Saturday, June 25, 2011
8932: Madison Avenue Ignorance Is Global.
Every year, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity ultimately exposes the irrelevance of advertising awards and the ignorance of advertising people.
For example, Pepsi caught serious heat in 2008 for ads produced by BBDO Dusseldorf depicting images of suicide. In 2011, Ogilvy & Mather in Mumbai, India essentially ripped off the concept for Mentos and reeled in a Cannes Lion. If an obscure hack from Timbuktu recreated the Apple 1984 commercial but altered the ending so the hammer-throwing woman hanged herself, the spot would probably nab the Film Grand Prix.
Meanwhile, Kia Motors America is actually condemning the Lion-winning campaign produced for the carmaker in Brazil. The ads hype the Kia Sportage’s dual-zone climate control feature with cartoons that critics believe glorify lust, sexism and pedophilia. “We can guarantee this advertisement has never and will never be used in any form in the United States, and our global headquarters in Seoul, South Korea is addressing the issue with the independent Brazilian distributor,” read the initial KMA statement. “We’re doing everything we can to inform consumers and the media that this was not a Kia Motors America-sanctioned ad, and like the American consumers, we find it totally offensive and inappropriate,” added Michael Sprague, KMA’s vice president of marketing and communications. “Through our social media sites, through our dealers, members of the media and our employees, we are communicating as much as we can to get the word out that this did not come from us.”
What does it say about the credibility and integrity of Cannes when advertisers are declaring their own work is disgusting shit? More importantly, what does it say about Cannes judges? Are the self-absorbed assholes so disconnected from their clients and consumers that they can’t recognize when an ad is completely wrong for a brand—and wrong from every other angle imaginable?
To make matters more grotesque, consider how this year’s Cannes festival included a special panel on building greater gender balance in the industry. Can’t help but wonder what the women think of the Kia campaign. The tone and content are a complete throwback to 1960s-era Mad Men, as well as an evil twin of 21st century T&A like Go Daddy, AXE, American Apparel, etc. Does Kia underscore the need to deconstruct the male dominance within advertising agencies?
Sure, there will be delusional amateurs defending the Kia campaign with the old “breakthrough-work-should-be-edgy-and-make-clients-nervous” bullshit. Too bad the contrived position is outdated and out of touch. Need proof? Where’s the cutting-edge rudeness in Nike’s World Cup Write The Future campaign? Puma’s After Hours Athlete is a poor man’s Nike concept, devoid of any nastiness-for-the-sake-of-grabbing-attention tactics. Jay-Z’s music routinely earns a Parental Advisory label for Explicit Content, yet the Cannes-honored Decode Jay-Z campaign is almost G-rated. Sorry, being insensitive and obscene when inventing big ideas isn’t necessary. It never has been.
Events like Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity are becoming increasingly unnecessary too.