In Wake of DDB Brasil Scandal, One Show to Ban Scam-Ad Creators for Five Years

One-Off Ads Run Only for Awards Shows Will Also Be Targeted

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In a bold, unprecedented move to stem the problem of scam ads in advertising awards shows, the One Club is implementing strict new rules that ban agencies -- and individual members of creative teams -- found guilty of making fake ads for a period of five years.

The move is in response to one of the most public and offensive cases of fakery in recent memory, the "Tsunami" ad DDB Brasil made for the World Wildlife Fund in Brazil. The widely condemned ad picked up a since-stripped One Show award and also was entered in the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in June.

The new rules and penalties were approved unanimously last night by the One Club's board of directors, who read like a who's who of ad-industry creatives, including David Droga, David Lubars, Nancy Vonk and Nick Law.

Effective beginning in 2010:

  • An agency or regional office of an agency network that enters an ad made for a nonexistent client, or made and run without a client's approval, will be banned from entering the One Show for five years.

  • The entire team credited on the "fake" entry will be banned from entering the One Show for five years.

  • An agency or regional office of an agency network that enters an ad that has run once, on late-night TV, or only because the agency produced a single ad and paid to run it itself will be banned from entering the One Show for three years.
That last point is significant, because it means that the One Club is taking a stand not only on all-out scam ads but also ads that are deemed to be made solely for award-show entry -- a problem endemic in the ad-agency business.

Kevin Roddy
Kevin Roddy
To that end, One Club Chairman Kevin Roddy, CEO Mary Warlick and President Kevin Swanepoel said they're committing to personally reaching out to the heads of other international awards shows, including Cannes, D&AD, the Clios, the ANDYs and others, to urge them to follow suit.

Whether those shows will take such stringent measures -- or any action at all -- remains to be seen. It's worth noting the One Club is a nonprofit organization, while most other ad-industry awards shows are for-profit entities.

DDB Brasil has already been stripped of its One Show Merit award, and while the One Club did hold discussions about retroactively applying its new rules to the agency and the creative team responsible for the WWF ad, the award show's leadership says its hands are likely legally tied.

"Do we agree with what they did? Absolutely not, and we've made that very clear to the agency," said Mr. Roddy, who also serves as chief creative officer of the Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York. "Fortunately, it has made us rethink how we need to protect the One Club and the industry from losing credibility. It's time this stops. It's bullshit."

"The purpose of awards shows are rewarding great work for a brand, not work created expressly for awards shows," Mr. Roddy said. "Anyone who makes them the objective of their work is misguided and doesn't really understand the business they're in."

Along with its new rules, the One Club is devising an initiative that will call upon individuals and agencies to monitor and eliminate "fake" ads at their source. More-detailed guidelines will be contained in next year's call for entries to the One Show.