Big brand platforms key to tackling scam – Leggett

Scam ads are still rife in industry awards, indeed more so now than ever, writes Jaimes Leggett, who proposes a way to tackle the scourge.

Another Cannes has come and gone, with scam entries no doubt as plentiful as buckets of Bandol on la Croisette.

Masterpieces made by those tortured creative souls desperate to unleash their talent, unencumbered by client briefs.

This year’s ‘Festival of Creativity’ was, as usual, bigger than ever.

Its 37,427 entries up 5% on last year, which in turn was up 4% on the year before.

And what percentage were scam ads?

We’ll never know.

But I’ll wager plenty.

Single executions, seeded into discreet communities portrayed as broadcast but in reality only seen by an unselect few.

Scam has always been around, but it’s flourished in the digital age with the continued spread of the media diaspora. Long tails and obscure online portals the perfect places to house and publish scam to get it over the awards line.

And loads pick up metal too, despite vigilance by award juries.

The growing proliferation of award categories are lending yet further opportunities to the scam artists.

Cannes debuted a new category (its 17th) this year, the Product Design Lion to “recognise the applied use of physical products in aiding the communication of a brand ethos”.

It also introduced three new Cyber Lions sub-categories: Social, Branded Technology and Branded Games.

This on top of the Innovation Lions that made their debut at the 2013 show – “honouring tech that enables commercial creative excellence”.

So, in the space of just two Cannes, a veritable pride of Lions added for an array of disciplines: product development, tech, social, branded content, gaming and innovation.

Big additions that represent the seismic shift our industry is experiencing.

And in all of them, a huge scope for scam.

Take social for example. Its low cost and ease of entry make it tailor-made for executions that career off the client piste.

Taking downhill runs that brands consider far too risky to embark on but conversely are the right paths for the consumer. In these instances we all celebrate agencies getting this work away because they tap into the consumer zeitgeist and give a much-needed edge back to our industry.

When they get it right, the pay off is big and bright, but fleeting, soon fading into the night.

Leaving the brand fragmented. Jilted by a casual lover.

So what to do?

I think we need to work backwards and look at what we celebrate and reward in our industry.

There’s too many shiny (creative and agency-cred bolstering) awards won for single, one-off executions, disconnected from any big brand platform. Awards ripe for scam.

The antithesis of scam are executions borne from big brand platforms. Platforms built by agencies and clients in alignment.

From marketing strategies in total sync with the brand’s business strategy.

It’s in these sorts of collaborative environments that creative agencies are able to incubate the big ideas.

When launched off big brand platforms, executions are seamless, holistic, consistent, channel-agnostic and very easily understood and remembered by consumers.

If only these sorts of executions were called for when it’s time to hand out the heavy metal, then we’d have a fair crack at marginalising scam.

Because it would no longer have a place to hide.

Jaimes Leggett is CEO, M&C Saatchi Australia.

Share news