Cannes boycott looms as DDB creative chief Amir Kassaei accuses some Cannes jurors of bias: "Other holding companies briefed to kill Omnicom, especially BBDO, DDB and TBWA"

Screen shot 2012-06-23 at 12.07.42 AM.jpgCAMPAIGN BRIEF WORLD EXCLUSIVE CANNES VIDEO - first aired Jun 23:  DDB Worldwide chief creative officer Amir Kassaei has accused some Cannes 2012 jurors of bias - claiming that judges of certain global holding groups had been ordered to vote for work from their respective groups.

In this world exclusive video interview with Campaign Brief he said the integrity of Cannes was at stake, and suggested that DDB Worldwide would boycott Cannes next year if an investigation of this year's jury decisions was not undertaken by the Cannes organisers.

Says Kassaei: "I have been notified by no fewer than 12 jury members that people from other holding companies this week were briefed to kill Omnicom, especially BBDO, DDB and TBWA, this is a fact."



blook said:

ghost chips not even short listed!

exactly said:


My poor bleeding heart. said:

Amir grow some balls.

It's a well known fact that ALL agency networks have an award strategy which calls for voting for:

1) our own agency's work (global work is shared so that our judges know which work comes from other offices around the world)
2) if we don't have any of our agency represented then we vote for our sister agencies in the group (ie, DDB & TBWA).

I work for an Omnicom agency. I'd personally rather see DDB win over Ogilvy from a self-centered network group POV, but fortunately this is where my personal integrity comes in, so I always vote for the best work on the day.

Cannes has become a F@$K Fest for who can make the best award films supporting the work. Let's make a call to ban this practice. If a print ad, TVC or radio spot etc can't be judged on its merit without support, then it doesn't merit any accolades.

And the amount of scam in the medal winners is appalling. I'm mean, a bicycle shop in Singapore wins countless medals for DDB. Well F@$K me dead, I'd like to see the agency records audited on that. I can understand pro-bono work for charities but can I really see a large agency like DDB having a cycle shop as a client? So Amir, instead exalting your Singapore office, I'd be hauling them over the coals.

We seriously need a board of governance at Cannes to audit agencies. Cannes has become a farce and I support a boycott on those grounds. Cannes should become a NON-PROFIT organisation and then we will see a return to integrity.

Me said:

Shock horror


GOOD ON YOU. Someone has to speak out. Cannes is out of control.

It has lost all of its integrity in my mind.

Shirley Nottrue said:

Bias at Cannes! Has that ever happened?


GOOD ON YOU. Someone has to speak out. Cannes is out of control.

It has lost all of its integrity in my mind.

Good on him said:

Jury stacking happens at a lot of places (anyone see anything as a finalist from Ogilvy Sydney or Euro RSCG at AWARD this year?) and it's fantastic someone so important has stood up to it.

The only way to ensure the best work wins is to have creatives from other countries shortlisting the work, who are only allowed to judge work that's outside their network and their previous agency's network. And the only way to make that happen is to have more jury members, potentially using an online system like the ADC do.

wella wella wella said:

Voting bias....holding company conspiracies...incompetent Cannes of all places???...who would've thought.

I think the only way this bullshit will only stop is if prominent clients reveal exactly how much awards play a part in them awarding their business.

Because we all know that a majority of the work entered and awarded at these kind of shows is specifically created for that purpose. It's got fuck all to do with the complex problems that real advertising is meant to solve.

For eg. the problem that BBH Guardian 3 Little Pigs TVC solves is wayyyyyy more intricate than some stupid ads for a bicycle renting shop in Singapore (Gold Lion...really?).

I can understand Kassaei's POV...maybe he felt his holding companys work got shut out.

But the fact is, they all play their part in this nonsense.

That said, can we have a Hall of Shame for the juries that awarded the Press and Outdoor Coke Grand Prix? They need to disbarred from judging for life.

Hmmmmm said:

It took courage of him to say that, but Cannes has been notorious for many years for bloc voting (usually along country lines rather than holding group lines). WPP's Sorrell is now echoing Amir K's message here (even the mainstream UK papers are running the story), Group M has lodged a complaint, it's all fun and games.

Don't think Cannes will do anything, but I had a feeling that some of this year's juries were not as strong as they have been in previous years. It's not as simplistic as saying "uh, never heard of this guy from Bulgaria / Colombia etc", because once you read their backgrounds, you can usually see that they're up to scratch, no matter where they're from. This year, in some cases (not all), you just didn't get that feeling.

That's one explanation, perhaps?

Me said:

Yet weirdly, BBDO and TBWA are the only agencies from this part of the world who did any good. BBDO in NZ and TBWA here smashed it.
I wonder what pieces of work he feels should have got up?
It has to come down to the work at the end of the day, if something is undeniably good then it will always get up.
The outdoor and promo juries should hang their heads in shame though.
And Amir, I'd be careful about what you're throwing stones at, especially when your own network is part of this chasing awards at all costs problem.

Get over it said:

Don't praise or blame Amir. He's only been around in his current gig a short while and hasn't been let in on the job description yet.
Every worldwide CCO pressures, coaxes, bargains and influences in their positions as jury members.
Some do it better and some not so well with glaring and questionable poor metal calls.
Don't cry foul if your counterpart managed to push his agenda better than you did this year.
You always have the next year and other shows to play this tit for twat game.
And don't start calling out clients of conviences. Every major network has them. (Maybe except for BBH, of course.)
Bottomline: Cannes lost it credibility a long time ago.
And you can't devalue what is intrinsically worthless.

Tag said:

Two solutions: make award shows nonprofit and enlist actual consumers as judges. Or even better, do away with award shows and put the money into employee training or bottom-line profit.

Yeeeaaah said:

This never happens at D&AD

HH said:

Any comments Paul Fishlock? Kind of proves your point.

Out of control said:

Still puzzles me how Clemenger BBDO Sydney got a Gold for that super average poster for Virgin. Something is not right at Cannes this year.

Hmmmm said:

Colenso BBDO picked up to Gold's in Promo and Activation for Monteith's and Pedigree.

The ECD was the the chairman of that jury. Enough said.

Is this the future standard? said:

How the hell Kit Kat got gold in the Outdoor Category...twice?

@yeeeaah said:

Jury stacking in D&AD? Maybe not.
But tactical voting? For sure!
My fellow London judges at D&AD were scoring down work on the same client from other agencies from other countries....blatantly.
As well as marking down work entered by their sister shops from HK, Sydney & Singapore so their work done from London for the same global brand will move onto the next round.
When jobs depend on how many awards they win, values and integrity are forgotten.
Values & integrity in advertising? What a joke!

Mrs Silence Dogood said:

This makes for good reading whilst waiting for Black Caviar to run.

Sarcasm said:

My fave was the Gold in Outdoor for a digital camera. The insight and outtake is that you can take lots of photos on your digital camera and delete them later, choosing the best one to keep. No way! Really? I wish my digital camera had that function. I am going to track down this camera with it's clear benefit and superiority over all the others in the market, then i am going to take as many pictures as i want, knowing i can always delete them later.

Get outdoors said:

What concerns me is the definition of 'best work'.

Is it the best print idea you see in the pile or the best print idea you see in a pile that's done for a big client? There's always some level of bias when judging awards, ie 'I know it's not as good as the charity ad and didn't solve any real problems, but fuck that must've been hard to get Coke to buy that poster'.

Amused said:

Who's bitter about not winning more? Kassaei and the 20 commenters above that's who.

Hmm... said:

My poor bleeding heart... You're a cunt. But thanks for being honest. I've sat on many juries and witnessed what I suspected. It was really rife in New Zealand. But hey, dicks like you only cheat our industry out of what it can be. Cannes used to be really great before emap took over. Only the best of the best judged. It was very clear what deserved gold, silver and bronze. Young people in this industry knew what to aspire to. Now it's bullshit. You fucking wankers out there that work for agencies and bitch that it's not about the work should be ashamed of yourselves. You've got no fucking honest principles. You're just gutting people who spend their days and nights trying to get ahead in this increasingly ugly fucking industry. I really feel for ghost chips. It's a pay rise those creatives won't see. I hope they're not too bitter.
I've always been painfully aware of what it takes to be good at this game and I've never carried on like that. It's always about the work and always should. I think of the poor fucking sleep deprived teams not the fucking agencies. Jesus Christ, I can't believe you assholes. You have a responsibility to the show guys if not a morale compass. Sniff some more rack, bang some more hookers. Cliches!
Good on you Amir. About time someone took a stand.

Keep breaking advertising you self serving freaks. Cannes from here on in should make it a mandatory to have 50% of the jury from independent agencies. That will sort it out. It seems that judges should also have to obtain from voting on work from their own holding company.

My poor bleeding heart. said:

Hmmm. You're a cunt too. Read my post again. Twat.

um said:

Amir should be applauded.

The self-obsessed will be exposed.

Ghost Chip. said:

Awards are pointless now anyway.
I'd much rather 10 million hits on youtube to prove my works good.
The Award shows wont be around in 5 years and people will laugh when you mention them.

True! said:

Its not just Cannes...

Is this the future standard? said:

Westone from DDB. C'mon. Seriously, you buy earphones to give you serious good music or keep out from the noise?

M said:

Spot on Ghost Chip

faves said:

I liked ghost chips and I liked kenny powers MFCEO

Jill Yonkers said:

The best people in this industry don't chase awards. As such, they don't get embroiled in the all the nonsense that surrounds it.

jetset said:

Why bother, Cannes is a dump. Head down the road to St Tropez, it's much more fun.

Sufi said:

Ghost Chip. The most viewed videos on YouTbe are those of Justin Bieber.
And those who taught me advertising put in my mind we were (WERE) the creators, the shapers of reality, whose superior imagination was able to change people's lives. Past tense on purpose.

Awards said:

The goal is not to need them to prove your worth annually.
Many people can't prove their inherent value and so need them - desperately.

Igor Stravinsky said:

Contrary to some of the comments above, Cannes has done a remarkably good job of persuading some very large clients that award-winning ads, and especially Cannes award winning ads, are a good thing. So Cannes is now full of clients keen to jump on the bandwagon.

These clients do select agencies based on the awards they have won. The success of agencies like Droga, Fallon, W&K, Clems Melbourne, the Monkeys and TBWA is directly related to the amount of awards they have won. Not necessarily because they are good, but because clients think they are good.

They must be, cos they have won awards. So on the shortlist they go.

Cannes has become the equivalent of concept testing campaigns for clients. It covers their ass.

Agencies aren't dumb. When winning at Cannes will get you on a new biz shortlist you try to win at Cannes.That's why Ogilvy entered. That's why my agency spent the equivalent of a midweight creative's salary on entries, and twice that on case-histories.

Cannes is not about doing good ads. It is about being seen to be doing good ads.

It is a new business strategy..

In a couple of months no-one will recall the size, scale or scamminess of the work that won gongs. Clients will go 'Fuck. TBWA won 2 gold and 4 silver. They must be good. I'll put them on my shortlist.'

And that's probably worth the cost.

What would a world without awards look like? said:

No awards – means creative directors, recruiters, agencies and clients would need to form an opinion of their own on what constitutes good work and what doesn't, and what constitutes a pay-rise.

What a fucking travesty that would be.

I rue the day that will happen.

Igor is wrong, Ghost Chip is right. said:

All of you old schoolers obsessing over advertising award schools... seriously guys, that shit is old and musty... it's the past now. We're not in 1980 anymore.

The future is in numbers, community and exposure of your work as a whole... how much clout you bring to a brand and how successful it really was.

So ask yourself this:

Do I want 10 million people to share, like or watch my piece of work in the real world.

Or would I want a handful of dirty old men at an awards show to give me a dusty trophy for my efforts?

You want some business clout with your clients? tell them the numbers, show them how many members you created for this clients website, or how many people liked the site on Facebook or how many people watched the YouTube video you created for them.... this is hero stuff... this is bragging rights...

This is what speaks to clients and business and in interviews, seriously, not awards...

terry x said:

Good on Amir. DDB may not be loading juries but it sure is loading entries. See Spikes Network of the Year 2011- DDB won on the sheer number of entries it entered and had shortlisted - it was nowhere in the actual medal count. The winner should have been Dentsu or JWT by a country mile. The DDB team looked embarrassed to be on the stage, but their strategy had paid off and they can put Network of the Year on their creds.

And if you really want to see agency manipulation at its best - see Campaign AP's Agency of the Year jury for 2011.

Leave a comment