Cannes Lying - the new Chip Shop Awards category for real scam adverts

Scam ads are still an issue with two winning at Cannes Lions 2016

It seems there are no limits to what some creatives will do to win a Cannes Lion. The festival has attracted its fair share of scam ads created merely to win awards, and this year’s show was no different, with two high-profile instances of work called out for their inauthenticity. As a result, a new category was introduced to The Chip Shop Awards to highlight such entries.

Scam ads are clearly still an issue for the advertising industry’s award schemes, with two Cannes Lions awarded this year for campaigns that – you guessed it – did not actually run.

The awards for both swiftly outed ‘campaigns’ have now been unceremoniously returned, with reactions from the agencies involved varying from begrudging to apologetic.

Firstly, an aspirin ad created by Brazilian agency AlmapBBDO for pharmaceutical firm Bayer attracted controversy for its sexist overtones. Seemingly inspired by revenge porn, the ad featured the line ‘Don’t worry babe, I’m not filming’, prompting a barrage of criticism on social media.

The ad was exposed as scam work when Bayer distanced itself from the campaign and said it had been created specifically by the agency to be entered at Cannes Lions.

Even BBDO chairman David Lubars voiced his criticism on stage at Cannes. “I learned last night that one of our very own agencies had a pretty scammy ad in the festival, and it won a Lion. I told them to return it. Because I don’t want that kind of Lion. BBDO doesn’t want that kind of Lion.”

Meanwhile, an app that claimed to detect refugees stranded in the Mediterranean, created by Grey Singapore, was deemed not to work, even after it had won an award. The ‘I SEA’ app was removed from the App Store on the same day it was awarded at Cannes.

The agency handed the award back begrudgingly, issuing a statement that appeared to blame the app’s critics: “We won over 90 Cannes Lions this year alone so there is no need for scam projects. However, given the unwarranted, unfair, unrelenting attacks by unnamed bloggers, we are putting an end to this and returning the Bronze Lion so there is not even the hint of impropriety or a question of our integrity. The saying no good deed goes unpunished is apt in this case.”

Introducing… Cannes Lying

Both bronze Lions were returned after being caught by eagle-eyed vigilantes, but why let a little white lie get in the way of an idea? With that in mind, The Drum’s The Chip Shop Awards, the world’s only advertising awards scheme with no rules, has created a brand new category to recognise such award entries.

The Cannes Lying category, launching for The Chip Shop Awards 2017, will pay tribute to scam ads, with fakes entered into other awards ceremonies – and then named and shamed – automatically qualifying for entry. As a result, agencies caught telling tall-tales about their work will be immortalised.

The Chip Shop Awards are in the unique position of celebrating top (and often controversial) work that never ran; from the knob-gags submitted by humble, chip-on-shoulder marketing students to the bigger picture work from big-dogs in Cannes who lie their way to an award.

Chip Shop judge Nicky Bullard, chairman and chief commercial officer of MRM Meteorite, told The Drum the awards are perfect to celebrate scam ads “because there’s no restraint, no client (mostly) and the people creating them have no boundaries”.

She added: “This is the official outlet for us creatives to not give a shit about anyone else.”

John Jessup, the former Leo Burnett creative director and longtime judge of the Chip Shops, meanwhile said: “Scam ads are rarely done well, but when they are and build on the original they can be very effective, they usually work better if the original campaign is crap.

“The Chips are the jumping on place for most young creatives, they are unique, no other awards scheme offers as much creative freedom, and every year the entries become more relevant without losing any of the ‘fuck you’ quality. I can’t wait to see what next year’s catch make of Brexit.”

Find out more about The Chip Shop Awards and view this year’s winners at

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