VIEWPOINT: BOOTY CALL: DEAN STEFANIDES, CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT NEW YORK'S HAMPEL STEFANIDES, IS FED UP WITH PRIZE-WINNING FAKES, AND HE'S NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE.

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I'm pissed at agencies and creative people who enter "fake" ads in award shows. For the sole purpose of winning awards, ad agencies go out of their way to produce their own print ads, run spec spots on cable channels at 3 a.m., fabricate clients, produce agency cuts, re-enter old ads. I can go on and on.

Awards are part of what make us tick. They're one of the reasons we work around the clock, forfeit vacations and screw up our personal lives. Award-winning ads offer us a chance at immortality, better jobs, promotions and that other thing we kill ourselves for-more money. It's like a drug. You win, it feels great, you are applauded by your colleagues, you are sought after by headhunters, your name appears in the trades, your hat size enlarges a few notches. Then it happens again. You start to itch. You really start to believe you're smarter, more creative, just plain better than everyone else. You can't stop. You need more. You're all caught up in that need to fill your veins with metal.

So you wonder, what's wrong with a little cheating? You win so many awards anyway. Why not fake a few ads? After all, you deserve them. The irony is that some of the biggest abusers of this award-scam mania are the creative agencies that win all the awards legitimately in the first place. They not only house the addicts, they encourage them. They learned it's good business to win awards. It's what put them on the map in the first place. No, I'm not talking about the small startups trying to make a name for themselves. I'm talking about the major established creative agencies. The sad thing is that these agencies are legitimizing this practice for a whole new generation of creative people. Hell, if your idols do it, what's the problem?

Sometimes I think what our business needs is a Betty Ford-like clinic for awards junkies. A place where these underhanded art directors and copywriters can go and chill out. The advertising-addicted need to get clean, to sober up to the day-to-day realities of the advertising business. Sure, the trades will run photos of them checking in and out at this clinic and splash them on the people pages. What we as an industry, along with the press, need to do together is to make it very uncool to be so dishonest.

We don't see the Pulitzer Prize committee giving its prestigious award to books that aren't published, no matter how good they might be. And the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences isn't bestowing Oscars to unproduced movie scripts. Sure, there are great scripts that have been optioned and never filmed, and fabulous American novels that have only been read by an unpublished writer's closest friends. But lines have to be drawn somewhere, and that's part of the responsibility of the professional associations that honor excellence in their crafts. The lines in our awards shows are well defined: ads and commercials that have been published and aired.

Call it tough love, monitoring, even policing, if that makes you happy; it's what we need to do more consistently in our awards shows. If we bar agencies that abuse the policies for a couple of years and deny them the trophies that keep their creatives happy, attract headlines in the press and other art directors and writers to their creative departments, they might find a harder go at recruitment, and maybe even new business. All of a sudden their cheating begins to have some very serious consequences. And if the press cooperates by reporting in detail their violations and awards show sanctions, we'd see such practices quickly disappear from the business. Awards shows must mean something again, and this is clearly a way to restore that meaning.

I sit on the board of the One Club, and we're beginning to crack down on the fakes. Last year we exposed an agency for creating five award-winning spec ads. The ads never ran, and in one case the client didn't even exist. In this case we not only rejected the falsified ads, but every other ad that the dishonest agency entered in the show. We're even thinking about not allowing that agency to enter the show for a few years. (Would you let a thief back in your home?)

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