Scandal is unlikely to sour the rosé on La Croisette
A view from Jeremy Lee

Scandal is unlikely to sour the rosé on La Croisette

Maybe it's just a coincidence that Cannes week also marks the halfway point in the year - an ideal opportunity for agency senior management to...

But, either way, the fact that so many of the international advertising industry – and the client community too – descend on the Côte d’Azur to celebrate and honour creativity and its contribution to the global economy is surely a positive.

Cannes matters too: a point emphasised by five top worldwide creative directors. This is made all the more important when you look at some of the embarrassing scandals that have beset other awards – as well as providing succour to those keen to dismiss advertising as a hotbed of fakery and vapid self-obsession, they have also done little to enhance the reputations of the agencies, countries and individuals involved.

Few can forget the offensive Ford Figo ads created by JWT India for Goafest earlier this year that featured images of women tied up in the back of a car. Entered at a time when the attitude in India to victims of violence against women was already under scrutiny following a series of brutal rapes, the ads led to the dismissal of a Ford executive and two JWT India senior creatives. One of these – its chief creative officer, Bobby Pawar – has just landed a job at Publicis Worldwide as the director and chief creative officer for South Asia. With only a short period in the wilderness, it shows that the Indian advertising scene is perhaps rather more forgiving than many. Incidentally, while Leo Burnett was also fingered at the same awards show for a similar – if less offensive – ad, it’s difficult not to conclude that the fraudulent Ford Figo work would never have been exposed had it not been for the rape scandal that coincided with it.

The fact that so many descend on the Côte d’Azur to celebrate and honour creativity is surely a positive

South America, too, is notorious for producing more than its fair share of scam (for example, Moma Propaganda São Paulo for Kia and Ogilvy & Mather Mexico for Mattel Scrabble – both ads from 2011 that were later stripped of their Lions) but, fortunately, these usually fail to get through the Cannes net. Nonetheless, such examples still leave the region suffering from an unpleasant whiff of inauthenticity, which may or may not be fair.

While, of course, there is likely to be the inevitable cry of "scam" at Cannes this year and mutterings of block voting (although hopefully not as dark as those that somewhat marred last year’s Media Grand Prix) from aggrieved losers, you can be pretty sure that the best work here usually wins and that the week on the Croisette is not one that is wasted. To all the winners, many congratulations.

jeremy.lee@haymarket.com
@jezzalee

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