Sunday, September 02, 2012

Sorry, WWF. I Think The Era Of Scam May Be Coming To An End

I never had anything against the ethos behind scam.

There's nothing wrong with an ambition to do great work, especially if that ambition is unfulfilled because you're in a not-very-creative agency, or you're relatively junior and not being given the good briefs. And there's nothing wrong with an ambition to win awards, and further your career.

It's just the lying I didn't like.  

Entering scam work into awards meant pretending it had run when it hadn't, or not properly, at any rate. Sometimes it meant pretending a client had signed it off when in fact they'd never even seen it. And sometimes it meant pretending to yourself... that you were doing something worthwhile, when the reality is there's nothing worthwhile about a WWF print ad that's only ever seen by Cannes jurymembers. 

But recently, I've noticed a few pieces of evidence which suggest that creatives' excess creative energy is starting to be put to better use.

Last year, there was the 'Keep Aaron Cutting' project, which saw 3 BBH interns taking to social media and raising 35,000 pounds to rebuild 89 year old Aaron Biber's barbershop, which had been destroyed by rioters. Read The Case Study here.

Last week, another team (coincidentally also from BBH) Viv Yapp and AK Parker, created a web app called Amateur Art Restorer which mocked the efforts of Cecilia Gimenez, the cack-handed 85 year-old art restorer of Zaragoza, and allowed you to try your own.

Also last week, Melbourne-based digital art director Julian Frost created an iPhone app called Toybox, whose simple premise is it allows you to play two games at once.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, creatives are now starting to make side-projects that are not only more creative than a fake DPS for Save The Donkeys, but which get seen by more people, and which might actually make something happen - like raise money, either for a charity, or themselves.

Most importantly of all... if you were an ECD, what would you be more impressed to see in a team's book: a print ad for a charity that never ran, or something super-fun like the Amateur Art Restorer app?

If the trend continues, it will mean fewer ads for the nation's Dog Obedience Schools and Pedestrian Councils.

But it's good news for the rest of us.


weasel said...

Disagree old bean. This is just digital scam to dazzle elderly CD/ECDs with a glimpse of the future. Or an opportunity for agencies / young creatives to flex their digital muscles. I prefer it when there's a brand and a proper advertising problem involved. It's just like when W&K would only hire young creatives that played the clarinet. Now it's having a pointless app. For me the best apps are still the ones that are useful and at least slightly fun, otherwise why would I bover?

Twinkle said...

No, case studies are the new scam ads.

Scrabble said...

Simon puts the 'p' into 'scam'.

john p woods said...

Ah the internet generation and their fixation with apps. Where will it all end?

Anonymous said...

Scam has its place. The Chip Shop Awards.

I'm surprised that this years Cannes Grand Prix Coca-Cola poster hasn't had more people protesting about scam.

A poster created by a design student is seen by a creative director. Creative director presents ad to client. Client buys ad. Creative Director gets his PA to call design courses to find out if they knows who produced the poster. Poster goes live on media paid for by the agency. Student gets an internship.

No client brief. No agency strategy skills. No agency creative involved. It actively promotes scam.

At least D&AD have introduced a 5 year ban for anyone caught submitting scam work.

Scamp said...

I disagree strongly, anonymous.

No client brief? What's the problem, clients love their agency to be proactive.

No agency strategy skills? Nonsense. The agency presented an ad that is totally on brand.

No agency creative involved? So what. Agencies use freelance/external resource all the time.

And your description of how the ad came about is v. inaccurate - Graham Fink tracked down the student after seeing a different poster (the Steve Jobs one). All these inaccuracies make me suspect that your allegation the agency paid for the media is off-the-mark too.

Come on, if you want to go scam hunting, I don't know why you'd pick on this, rather than Cannes-winning ads for highlighter pens from Chile...

Anonymous said...

I like it when you're angry