21 July 2011

Cannes Strips Controversial Brazillian Ad of Two Lions

Funny thing happened on the way down from the Cannes Lions podium last month.

Our story surrounds a contentious print ad for KIA's duel-zone climate control feature, from an ad outfit called Moma Propaganda of Brazil.

Upon winning a Silver Lion for print, and a Bronze Lion for Outdoor, the ad was quickly condemned by critics as 'The Pedophile Ad.'

KIA USA issued a nervous, if qualified, response, insisting that this ad would never run in the United States.  In an operation that big, it's hard to know if any branch of the company might have employed the Brazilian agency.  

This is the moment I imagine William Frawley in a 1940's screwball comedy, pinstripe vest open and cigar-in-mouth barking "Saaaaaay.  Something fishy's goin' on here."

And fishy it was.  Turns out that KIA has no relationship with the agency, and never commissioned, approved, or knew about the work.

It's not uncommon for agencies to fabricate ads based on in-house ideas to demonstrate wheat they can do.

And it's not uncommon (-shhhhh!-) for ad award entrants to sneak in entries- usually for their actual clients- for ads which, for some reason or other, never ran.  No, it's not cricket, but agencies are rarely caught.

In this case, KIA wanted nothing to do with the dark, graphic novel vibe of the Moma Propaganda ad.  Having some some digging, it announced shortly after the Cannes festival that it had never commissioned such an ad.  The agency was challenged by the Cannes brass to prove that it had ever run.  Evidently, they couldn't. So the agency was stripped of its trophies.  For good measure, all involved were forbidden to enter the Cannes competition until 2013.

"No Lions for you!  One year!"
A question lingers:  will Moma Propaganda- the disgraced Brazilian agency- be a net beneficiary of this exposure and publicity?

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