Cannes 2008

Epoch Loses Lion Over Racy Penney Ad Controversy

Production Company Requested to Withdraw 'Speed Dressing' From Cannes Film Category

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NEW YORK ( -- The commotion over a lascivious fake ad created for JC Penney has cost the makers of the work the esteemed Bronze Lion it won in the film category in Cannes last week.
Philip Thomas
Philip Thomas

Organizers of the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival had been in talks with all parties involved, and in the end, the production company that submitted the work, Epoch Films, requested to withdraw the entry for a spot, titled "Speed Dressing," that could be interpreted as promoting teen sex.

Cannes Festival CEO Philip Thomas told he was "pleased" with the outcome, and that it didn't come down to a situation wherein the festival would have been forced to revoke the award. The organizers are currently in the midst of pulling the work from the Cannes Lions 2008 website and striking it from the record as having won an award this year.

No need to return Lion
Epoch won't actually have to physically return the award; rather, it simply can save the room in its trophy case. Because of the high number of Silver and Bronze Lions winners, those trophies aren't awarded in Cannes, they are mailed to recipients afterward.

Epoch declined to comment. JC Penney's agency of record, Saatchi & Saatchi, could not be immediately reached, but had earlier this week apologized for the debacle, saying it "did not enter the spot and deeply regrets the message this ad presents."

During last week's festivities, Mr. Thomas told Ad Age that "there's a lot of jealous people around" but emphasized that the festival takes the accusation of a ghost ad very seriously. "Especially now, with clients coming to Cannes, it's highly embarrassing for them."

"We have very strict standards, and insist on contact names and numbers for clients and media buyers." While such events are not at all unprecedented, the festival will continue "to need to be vigilant," he said.

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Contributing: Laurel Wentz
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