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Cannes Lions weighs in on its scam ad policies

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With the DDB/WWF “Tsunami’ scandal still fresh in the minds of ad folks around the world, and with the One Show and other awards shows stepping up to announce their intentions as they relate to stamping out scam ads, it was only a matter of time before we heard from the granddaddy of them all.

Cannes Lions and its affiliated festivals (next month’s Eurobest, Dubai Lynx held in March, and the recently wrapped up Spikes Asia) have just released a statement to announce how they intend to deal with the scam ad situation.

London, 14 October 2009 - Following detailed consultation and discussion with industry leaders, the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival wishes to make clear its policy on entries into its Festivals which breach the rules.

There are many definitions of “scam”, and the issue is rarely black and white. As such, we want to develop a policy that is not only workable but also enforceable.

The role of Cannes Lions and its associated Festivals (Eurobest, Dubai Lynx and Spikes Asia) is to set the benchmark for creativity in communications, to celebrate creativity and to reward the industry for outstanding creative work.

Our role is not to come between the client and the agency; it is not to have a negative material effect on agency business; and it is not to penalise individuals from an agency who have not had any association with the work in question.

Our key rules in this regard are simple: “Entries cannot be made without the prior permission of the advertiser/owner of the rights of the advertisement. All entries must have been made within the context of a normal paying contract with a client. That client must have paid for all, or the majority of, the media costs.”

It is our policy that when a piece of work comes into question, we request clarification or further information according to the complaint raised. If it is not forthcoming or not adequate, we withdraw the award.

In future we will continue to withdraw awards that do not meet our entry criteria and announce that we have done so.

Our entry criteria include:

- Submitting full client details (including name, position and full contact details)
- A senior officer (CD, CEO or Chairman) from the entrant company must authorise the entry

Our checks include:

- That the client is legitimate and that the product corresponds with their portfolio
- Judges are offered the opportunity to raise queries with the organisers and information is gathered accordingly throughout the judging (media schedules, client authorisation, etc.)

We believe that banning agencies from entering on a wholesale basis is unfair on blameless individuals. There are many people who work in agencies who may not be involved with an erroneous entry and therefore should not be penalised. Our policy will be to ban the individuals named on the credit list if a scam is discovered.

The length and nature of the ban will be decided based on the seriousness of the case involved. We take the view that not all issues are the same and each case should be dealt with on its own merits.

In summary, the key issues which will guide us through this process are:

1) Was the work approved and paid for by the client and was it run using media space paid for by the client? 
2) If an entry fails to meet this or other entry criteria, we will withdraw the award and make an appropriate announcement. 
3) If we deem it is required, we will ban the individuals involved from entering our awards for a specific period of time which will be decided at that time.

Terry Savage

Philip Thomas
Chief Executive Officer

Hmmm, so not as harsh as One Show, with their well defined three and five year agency bans, but potentially much more than a “tsk tsk” and a slap on the wrist. Stay tuned! After all, this is the neverending story…

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