Wondering about the The Big Won? So are we!

May 18, 2009

headerGuess what? The UAE boasts the second most successful advertising industry in the world. The accolade is highlighted in an international report by The Big Won. But before you start celebrating, a closer look at the criteria behind these rankings is definitely required.

With all due credit to the progress being made in the UAE’s advertising sector, any order of merit which rates the emirates above both the UK and the USA naturally raises some questions.

So how is this report compiled? Well, as described previously on this blog, the results were presented as an interim indication of how the world’s countries, networks, agencies and senior advertising figures performed at the awards ceremonies held during the first quarter of 2009 – including two in the Middle East, two in London, three in the USA and one each in Thailand and Romania.

Helping the Middle East reach prominence were Memac Ogilvy Dubai and Leo Burnett Beirut, as well as FP7 Doha, whose Fadi Yaish was named top creative director. When Campaign contacted the UK-based compiler of the list to inform him that all of Fp7 Doha’s Dubai Lynx awards had either been revoked or returned following the scandal over scam entries, we were told the list would be amended accordingly.

The new listings can be seen here. Fp7 Doha, which was previously rated as the world’s number two creative agency, has unsurprisingly disappeared from the top 10 but the UAE remains the second best country overall.

It should also be pointed out that the cut-off point for these rankings is now 7 May, strangely just a few days before the conclusion of The One Show, a week before the announcement of The Clios and just over a month before Cannes.

Surely the setting of this apparently arbitrary date presents a confusingly skewed reflection of real success?

For respect and credibility, any rankings of international agencies must be based on a level playing field. And if the small matter of FP7 Doha’s Lynx awards escaped the attention of The Big Won’s chief, is it unfair to wonder whether anything else has been missed?

The Big Won correctly credits many top agencies and creatives but it certainly shouldn’t be taken as an accurate barometer of overall performance.

Creative awards – the story so far

May 4, 2009

Hearty congratulations are due to Till Hohmann and his creative team at Memac Ogilvy Dubai, as well as those at Leo Burnett Beirut, who have all been rated highly in newly-released rankings based on the advertising awards that have been held in the first quarter of 2009.

The interim rankings compiled by The Big Won are based on the quality and quantity of awards won at the two awards shows that have taken place in the Middle East (MENA Cristals and Dubai Lynx), plus two in London, three in the US and one each in Romania and Thailand.

The timing of the list (with many major ceremonies still to be held) and the debatable relative value of the awards shows taken into account mean these rankings are far from definitive. Nevertheless, Middle East agencies are distinctly prominent. It is fantastic to see international recognition for Leo Burnett Beirut’s Khede Kasra, which is rated second in the ‘Top Campaign’ category after JWT Shanghai’s Shan Shui. Credit is also due to Memac Ogilvy Dubai’s ‘one-breasted mannequin’ campaign, which was third and undoubtedly helped Till Hohmann to the title of top executive creative director, ahead of Warren Brown of BMF Sydney and Stefan Schulte of DDB Berlin.

However, the naming of Fadi Yaish as top creative director has raised some eyebrows. His ranking surely owes a lot to the awards his agency won at Dubai Lynx but fails to recognise that several of these, including Agency of the Year, were retrospectively revoked and all other Lynx trophies won by the office were handed back as a gesture of apology.

When contacted by Campaign, UK-based Patrick Collister of The Big Won confirmed our suspicion that he was not aware of these latest developments. He is now “amending the database accordingly” and will report back shortly.

FP7 punishes Doha office over Lynx scam scandal

April 23, 2009

Several creative staff are parting company with FP7 Doha and the office is handing back all of its Dubai Lynx awards, it was announced today in the wake of the scam ads scandal.

Parent group Fortune Promoseven has issued a statement following the conclusion of its internal investigation into the affair.

The action has been welcomed by the organisers of last month’s Dubai Lynx, who are overhauling their entry regulations in light of the recent issues.

The names of the staff leaving FP7 Doha have not been disclosed – and nor whether they have resigned or been fired. However, it appears likely that creative director Fadi Yaish will be among those moving on.

Fortune Promoseven’s full statement is as follows:

“Fortune Promoseven had committed to thoroughly investigate FP7 Doha’s entries into Dubai Lynx 2009. This internal investigation has now been concluded.

“It seems our strict policies and procedures for awards entries were circumvented. This is clearly unacceptable to our company.

“As a strong demonstration of the seriousness with which we view such behaviour, it has been decided that FP7 Doha will hand back all of its awards from the Dubai Lynx festival, and FP7 Doha has also been instructed not to submit any entries to Cannes Lions 2009.

“Corrective actions are being taken and several staff responsible will part ways with the company. In addition, FP7 Doha is strengthening its policies and procedures to ensure compliance for all future awards entries.”

Philip Thomas, CEO of Lynx organisers Cannes Lions, said: “Promoseven’s decision to have FP7 Doha return all awards – including bona-fide winners – shows real intent.

“Dubai Lynx is about lifting creativity for clients in the region and this action sends a signal to the market that this is what the focus of Lynx will be in the future.

“We will announce changes to the 2010 entry critera shortly.”

The outcome of a separate investigation by Lynx organisers into entries from other agencies is yet to be published.

See earlier posts for the background to this story.

Lynx investigates FP7 Doha’s Aramex ad

April 5, 2009

aramex3Lynx organisers are investigating yet another of FP7 Doha’s winning ads – just days after stripping the agency of seven awards and its Agency of the Year crown over illegitimate entries submitted for Samsung, Higeen Mouthwash and Nissan.

The focus of the new probe is the agency’s ad for Aramex’s parcel delivery service, which won gold in the print category. It has come under scrutiny following allegations from an unnamed Aramex spokesperson who is quoted in Gulf News as saying the the work was not commissioned.

Steve Lane, festival director of Dubai Lynx, said that discussions with senior figures at Aramex had begun, in an attempt to ascertain whether the ads were commissioned. He said immediate action would be taken if the award was found to have broken rules and regulations governing Lynx entries.

Separate arguments over the resemblance of the work to an ad for FedEx have been aired on the bloganubis website, with questions remaining over which was published first.

Meanwhile, organisers of the Lynx are continuing to look into the legitimacy of ads entered by other agencies and the outcome is likely to be announced within the next few days.

Lynx launches investigation into work by other agencies

April 2, 2009

The likelihood that the Dubai Lynx will strip more agencies of awards has increased following confirmation that other pieces of work are now being investigated.

Steve Lane, festival director of the Lynx, admitted that campaigns by a number of different agencies were being looked into. He would not confirm which those agencies were, but they probably relate to another post by ‘John Doh’, who listed 16 pieces of work that he suspected of being scams.

“We have received complaints relating to other pieces of work,” said Lane. “Just because we have dealt with some already, this does not mean we are not looking into others. We are looking into other pieces from Doha and from other agencies.”

Last night, FP7 Doha was stripped of its agency of the year title, as well as two golds, four silvers and a bronze for ‘clients’ Samsung, Higeen and Nissan.

The fallout from this year’s Lynx is in danger of turning into the biggest advertising scam scandal of all time, with an unprecedented number of entries being disqualified or withdrawn. It has now become global news, with advertising magazines in the UK, the US and Asia following up on the story.

Lane added that he was waiting to see the outcome of FP7’s own internal investigations. “We will welcome any action they take,” he said. “We have done what we can. It’s about taking the root out, not chopping the tree down.”

FP7 Doha stripped of agency of the year title

April 1, 2009

FP7 Doha has been stripped of its agency of the year title and seven awards following an investigation by the Dubai Lynx.

The awards withdrawn are two golds, four silvers and a bronze for ‘clients’ Samsung, Higeen Mouthwash and Nissan.

higeenThe decision to withdraw so many awards was taken after the investigation revealed that numerous examples of work from the agency did not meet the entry criteria of the Dubai Lynx. Ten shortlisted pieces of work in the print and outdoor section have also been disqualified.

Philip Thomas, CEO of Cannes Lions, organisers of the Lynx, said: “Even before the awards night, we had withdrawn a number of pieces of work from the competition but subsequently our investigation has found other pieces that were presented to the jury that infringed our requirement that all work presented must represent the client who approved it. Our rules are very clear with regards to this, and we have no hesitation in withdrawing these awards. ”

He added: “The Dubai Lynx awards exist to celebrate and raise the creative bar of genuine work of the region. Activities like this show a disregard not only for the awards but more importantly for the juries who work so hard judging the event. Due to the scale of withdrawals we feel it inappropriate to honour FP7 Doha as Agency of the Year and so will be withdrawing the prize. I hope that this swift action makes clear our determination to build an award with true integrity for the region.”

The agency of the year title will not go to second placed FP7 Dubai and will not be awarded to any other agency.

 The investigation, which began last week, followed the publication of a damning entry on bloganubis, in which the legitimacy of FP7 Doha’s work for Higeen Mouthwash, Samsung and Nissan was questioned. The awards withdrawn are the ‘ink’, ‘oil’, and ‘mud’ print gold for Samsung; the ‘car’, ‘cook’, and ‘rocket’ TV/cinema gold for Samsung; the print ‘nuns’ and ‘Students’ print silver for Samsung; the ‘flying bird’, ‘man digging’, and ‘running horse’ print silver for Samsung; the ‘cow’, ‘sheep’, and ‘pig’ print silver and outdoor silver for Higeen; and the ‘Jackson 7 TV bronze for Nissan.

Lance de Masi, president of the UAE chapter of the IAA, which holds the Lynx awards in association with Cannes Lions, said: “In taking such swift action the Lynx organisers have demonstrated their understanding that in order to fulfill the purpose of incentivizing and rewarding creative excellence in the region, Lynx must safeguard compliance with the stated conditions of eligibility. To do otherwise would be to undermine credibility.”

The issue had been complicated by a religious row that erupted in Lebanon following the publication of the ‘nuns’ ad in a Lebanese newspaper last week.

Update: Statement from FP7

“The Fortune Promoseven organization is aware of the decision to strip the Agency of the Year title from FP7 Doha at Lynx 2009. We are in support of the spirit in which this announcement from Lynx was made. This is a message to every agency, every creative in the region that there are rules to be obeyed, standards to be followed, and that there are no short cuts to stardom in our industry.

“While we acknowledge the action by Lynx, we are continuing our internal investigations and we are taking strong punitive action against anyone who was in contempt of our reputation and our standards.  We are also definitely sure that this issue was personally motivated and was outside the frame work of  our internal rules, fundamental principles, and agency beliefs.

“At this time, we should not forget that as an agency brand we have had a large number of world class entries from across our regional footprint that were recognized and awarded by an international jury at Lynx. Looking at the results overall, our organization is by far still the most awarded and recognized agency at Lynx and we are quite proud of that.  One cannot take away the credit from that tremendous achievement.”

Dubai Lynx launches investigation into FP7 Doha’s winning work

March 25, 2009

samsungThe organisers of the Dubai Lynx have launched an official investigation into a string of winning work by FP7 Doha.

The investigation follows the publication of a damning entry on bloganubis, in which the legitimacy of FP7 Doha’s work for clients Higeen Mouthwash, Samsung and Nissan was questioned.

Steve Lane, festival director of the Dubai Lynx, confirmed that complaints had been received from numerous agencies as a result of the blog, as well as from clients.

“There are two or three prongs to the investigation,” said Lane. “With Samsung – specifically the camera campaign – the washing machine and the printers. We’re trying to get to the bottom of whether the camera stuff actually ran and was actually approved.” He added: “I am in contact with Samsung and we are having an ongoing discussion with them, trying to get to the bottom of who exactly said yes to this stuff.”

Lane said official complaints had been received about the agency’s Higeeen mouthwash work. He also confirmed that a campaign for Nissan had been withdrawn from the Lynx shortlist prior to the awards ceremony following complaints from Nissan that the ads were nothing to do with them. Shortlisted work for Matchbox had also been removed.

FP7 Doha was named advertising agency of the year at the Dubai Lynx awards ceremony on 17 March, but is now in danger of being stripped of its title if the investigation goes against them.

The original bloganubis posting was the work of an agency insider going by the alias of ‘John Doh’. He had originally sent his letter to a number of different media, including Campaign.

According to Lane, the Samsung work is being looked into the most seriously.

“If we withdraw any of the stuff that’s actually been awarded, we will recalculate agency of the year,” said Lane. “They [FP7 Doha] may be so far ahead they’ll retain it, but we will see.”