Scam or hoax or even worse? An award-winning “ad” blows up in everybody’s face.
September 3, 2009
How could they?
For obvious reasons, this mind-bogglingly crass “ad” for the World Wildlife Federation is getting a ton of play. The trades gave it Crispin Porter like attention, as are we in the blogosphere.
That this piece is so clearly a scam ad is beside the point. In five minutes I could pull up a hundred more just as fake. We all could. Scam ads have become the dandelions of our industry. We almost put up with them. Indeed, some of us even adore them. How else do you explain the awards they invariably get, year after year, show after show?
But not this one. This particular artifact, allegedly from DDB Brazil, has too terrible a subject matter for most of us to bear. Using blatant imagery from 9/11 is wildly inappropriate and probably (hopefully) won’t be for decades, if ever. Only the Holocaust compares.
However, I suspect it is not merely the content that riles and disturbs us but rather the way in which it was used. Nature, for all her power is not, and never will be, a murderer. Comparing the arbitrary horror of a tsunami with the man made malevolence of September 11, 2001 is…
Horrendous? Ridiculous? Absurd?
All I can say is what were they thinking? I came up with a startling conclusion: this “ad” was not created to win awards any more than it was made to build awareness for the WWF. I believe the creators made this thing to get attention. For who and why I’m not sure. But they knew it would blow up. And they knew it would blow up in September. They knew.
And for that the perpetrators are guilty of far more than scamming.
Hold on… terrorists? No, not quite. More like hate criminals.
Having proposed this theory, I don’t believe DDB (or any real agency) was responsible for condoning something like this. I’m guessing a handful of morons did it –maybe even just one or two, “acting alone,” as they say.
Of course the perpetrators will be fired…that is if they even have jobs in the first place. I suspect they don’t. Perhaps they were trying to get back at the agency for harms done to them.
So, was this scam ad a hoax? The only other explanation would be to attribute complete ignorance on the part of the creators, which, all cynicism aside, I’m having trouble accepting.
Either way, the “ad” made Keith Olbermann’s “Worst persons in the World” list, in which he actually names numerous creative staff from the agency.
Update: Adfreak has a post featuring a series of vague explanations and partial apologies, which seem to render both agency and client culpable. I still think it was mad men acting alone!