It is one of the novelties of the Chip Shop Awards that entrants can invent their own categories. But when one agency submitted an ad named ‘Hacker’ into the category of ‘Best use of hacking for self-promotion’, the organisers probably should have sensed danger.
Fast forward 24 hours and the agency in question had breached the Chip Shop Awards’ defences, hacked into the voting system and racked up more than 30,000 votes for their entry to be Ad of the Month. A brilliant – if extremely dicey – demonstration of how to marry medium with message.
The hack was the brainchild of Sheffield agency The Black Eye Project, whose partner Jim Lobley has been kept busy this morning dealing with the Twitter storm from other entrants unimpressed by their illicit tactics.He told The Drum: “It was just a bit of fun really. We’ve wound some snotty nosed kids up.“By putting the code on the ad we tried to make sure that it was fair to everybody. We gave them the means to do it themselves but no one picked up on that.“It was one of our coders who saw a hole in the code and decided to exploit it.“It’s just a different format. We always try not to do knob gags. We haven’t created any Mugabe vote rigging of epic proportions. The majority of people have enjoyed it.“It was poignant that we’ve done it in the Chip Shops.”Having since closed the loophole, a Chip Shop Awards spokesperson explained that The Black Eye Project’s illegitimate votes would not count in the final tally.They said: "In any other industry awards the organisers would be thoroughly hacked off and the culprits would get an instant DQ. But the Chip Shops isn't like any other awards scheme."While we wouldn't want to encourage other hackers, we preach creativity without limits so we have to take our hats off to The Black Eye Project for their sheer audacity."To reassure entrants, the vote count on the website is only a visual representation of a vote. In the interests of fairness, only genuine social media shares are counted by the CSA voting system and invalid votes are disregarded overnight, so the real total hasn’t been rigged.”The Chip Shop Awards
is open for entries until Friday 14 March.