PERSPECTIVE: Awards exist for the benefit of many, not to fuel inflated egos

John Hegarty, the chairman of the Campaign Press Advertising Awards jury, received a curious letter last week from Peter Buchanan of COI Communications. Buchanan was delighted to see that his child protection campaign about paedophiles and the internet had picked up a silver award for best black-and-white campaign. It's just that the awarded ads bore scant relation to the ads which ran - which is a bit odd, isn't it?

The answer is yes, it is odd. And the shameful truth is that Paul Belford and Nigel Roberts, the Ogilvy creative directors responsible for the ads, changed them prior to submission. The word "devious

was reintroduced to one headline. The UK Online logo was removed. The ads appeared as single pages but the ones entered were of a DPS format with resulting changes in art direction.

Another winner by the same pair, an ad entitled "Big Ears

for The Samaritans, won a silver award for best charity advertisement. In this case we have learned that the ad ran as a poster only. As a poster it carried a telephone response number, which was removed for the fake entry in the press awards.

For the record, let me explain the system of checks and balances that Campaign applies to make the voting transparently fair. Half the jury comprised editors, media owners and clients, the rest were creative directors.

No judge can vote for the work produced by his or her agency and where such ads crop up, an average of the rest of the jury's mark is given.

On entering the awards an agency must state which major publications it ran in. If it makes the shortlist agencies must produce a copy of the media schedule.

Let me also point out that apart from manipulating his way through these checks and balances, Roberts sat on the Press Awards jury, where he was fully able to cast a less than disinterested eye at his own works of fiction as they proceeded through two days of judging.

The changes to the ads themselves are shameful enough. Coupled with Roberts' presence on the jury and his arrogant comments when he was confronted by Campaign - "I'm confident it would still win in the original format

- this sorry episode serves to mark the pair as archetypal advertising luvvies. They are the sort that bullies their way past account people, planners and clients, clinging pathetically to some notion of creativity as if it is a tangible thing unrelated to the grubby commercial business in hand.

I apologise to the rightful winners and to the jury who gave us two days of their time to contribute to a show that over 29 years has established itself as one of the industry benchmarks. I doubt that Belford and Roberts will be moved to send a note of apology to anyone concerned. But calmer reflection suggests that their permanent exclusion from Campaign awards juries and banning their entries into Campaign award schemes for the next three years is the very least they deserve.


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