Ghostbusters

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No one wants to play chaperone at a great party, but some must play that role at this year's International Advertising Festival in Cannes, and other ad contests, if organizers are serious about keeping "ghost ads" from crashing the competition.

As we report in our cover story, Cannes festival Chairman Roger Hatchuel said officials for the first time are requiring senior agency executives to sign entry forms-vouching, presumably, that the client and product are real, and that the ad was actually used by the client. That's a good first step, and a move that Cannes and other creative competitions should have required long ago.

Another is to appeal, as Cannes festival officials are doing, to judges from each of the competing nations to be more willing to be whistle-blowers rather than just winking at the hanky-panky.

The contest-ethics problem starts at home, of course, with creatives at agencies and production houses so eager to bring back a prize-and supposedly boost their careers and new-business prospects-that they enter clever work that, unfortunately, never had to pass muster with clients and the marketplace.

The people who do this are not totally harmless pranksters. As Donald Gunn, longtime observer of the international agency creative scene, put it: "[They're] actually stealing someone else's award in the category." It's certainly right to ask-to insist-that people play by the rules, and that the "chaperones" do what is needed to see that they do.

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