Opinion: Cannes decision cheers British love of fair-play

Of the 2.67 million regular buyers of the NoTW, just over 2.1 million have switched

Aug 02, 2011 10:30:00 PM | Article | Dominic Mills

News that the organisers of the Cannes Lions have stripped the Brazilian agency Moma Propaganda of a silver and a bronze for entering scam ads has cheered the British ad industry no end.

The fact that it may have taken Cannes a full month to uncover the fact that the ads never ran and were not approved by the client, Kia Motors, is not a cause for concern. As long as the wheels of justice grind, it doesn’t matter how long they take.

No, this plays to two particular British obsessions: a love of fair play; and a piece of national (or regional) stereotyping – namely that the Latins are always up to something dodgy (ie 1986, Maradona and the ‘Hand of God’). And if there’s one thing that the British ad industry is especially hot on, it is scams – especially by those serial offenders from Latin America.

Scams, the Brits believe, demean and cheapen awards. Worse still, they bring the industry into disrepute, not least with the only audience that really matters: advertisers. As Cannes welcomes more clients into the fold, so a zero-tolerance approach to scams is vital if the integrity of the awards is to be preserved.

British awards are, these days, scam-free. In such a close-knit and almost incestuous industry, deceit would be impossible. The rise of the online commentariat also guarantees transparency.
But it hasn’t always been that way, as we at Campaign UK have found to our own embarrassment a decade or so ago.

Shortly after the winning creatives picked up their prizes at the awards dinner, there was a whisper in my ear. It was the client, also present at the dinner: those were not ads he had ever approved.
Red faces all round, and a ban on the guilty parties. Justice, while not instant, was dispensed within 24 hours. It’s the only way.

Missing: 550,000 readers

Two weeks after Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World printed its final issue, rival Sunday tabloids are fighting ferociously to pick up its readers: print runs doubled, cover prices cut, and money poured into Saturday night TVCs.

Having seen circulations in remorseless decline over the last five years, most see a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (well, maybe only a few weeks or months if the Murdochs come back with a Sunday version of the Sun) to revive their fortunes.

So far, the winner in absolute terms is the Sunday Mirror, up about 800,000 copies, with the Daily Star Sunday not far behind (up 580,000).

But here’s the worry: of the 2.67 million regular buyers of the NoTW, just over 2.1 million have switched. That leaves about 550,000 missing – a huge loss of readers to the Sunday market.
Ok, this is the start of the holiday season, when tabloid-loving Brits are abroad, but the figure is deeply disturbing to both the press and advertisers who feat that, once lost, they may never return.

Data: the new rock n’ roll

Move over, creatives – the numbercrunchers (aka the data analysts) are
becoming adland’s new rock stars.

July saw two of the UK’s biggest agencies, AMV BBDO and M&C Saatchi, establish specialist units which, they hope, can arm their creative departments with data-driven ammunition that inspires big and effective ideas – and helps them fight off the likes of Google and Facebook which sit on tons of data clients would kill for.

That’s the theory. Judgement will be reserved as to whether the two can mesh together. Culturally poles apart, data geeks and creatives each regard the other as alien life forms.

Dominic Mills is editorial director of Haymarket Business Media, Publishers of Campaign India, and a former editor of Campaign UK.