Last year, Ad Nut's parade of pre-awards purpose campaigns compiled a collection of 24 campaigns. While some were laudable efforts to do some good in the world, a few were laughably stupid, and a couple more were downright offensive and irresponsible ploys for attention (see "Diaper brand claims messages on wet nappies prevent postpartum depression"). And Ad Nut didn't even include the campaign that became the poster child for callous attempts to win awards.
Ad Nut pleads guilty to using the term "award bait" to get your attention, but hopes you won't take it too seriously. It's perfectly fine to try to win awards. And it's not a bad thing to partner with NGOs that need support in an attempt to win awards. But, when a campaign makes silly or false claims, or is just an empty gesture, it can cross into another realm. In such cases, reasonable observers might call such work "scam", or at the very least question its sincerity. Each item below has been given a rating on Ad Nut's 'cynicism meter'.
Let's see what happens this year! Ad Nut will be adding to this collection as the award season goes on, and invites you to pass along your opinions, or any examples Ad Nut misses, using Twitter, Facebook or our anonymous comment form.
(In no particular order)
Title: Fin for a fin
Agency: Leo Burnett Melbourne
Client: Glide Fins
Cause: Shark conservation
Cynicism meter: Low. Ad Nut is not sure whether the fins will actually stop the shark killing that often follows an attack on a human, but it's nice to know surfers have a live-and-let-live mentality toward the sharp-toothed fish—it's the sharks' ocean, after all. More to the point for our purposes here, the client says it's donating proceeds to charities that fund shark research and education.
Title: Speed Limit Monk Statue
Agency: BBDO Bangkok
Client: Thai Health Promotion Foundation
Cause: Road safety
Cynicism meter: High. Nice concept. But unless you're producing the statues in mass quantities, you've done nothing but create a video about speeding.
Update: Ad Nut is thrilled to report that, according to BBDO: "Thousands of monk statues were made and distributed for free to Thai drivers all over Thailand in the first phase of the campaign. The second lot of Speed Limit Monk Statues are also in production and will be available soon." Now, if only they could also warn drivers of impending squirrel-squash incidents.
Title: Safety Bike Radio
Client: 98FM (Brazil)
Cause: Cyclist safety
Cynicism meter: High. Ad Nut is doubtful that this created "a movement" of bikers carrying devices that interfere with car radios (but only those tuned to 98 FM!). How about giving bikers reflective clothing or lights instead?
Title: The Flag Refill
Agency: McCann Colombia
Client: Marca País
Cause: Blood donation
Cynicism meter: Low. Nice symbolism for a country emerging from a long violent struggle.
Title: Handbag Dyetonator
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Malaysia
Client: Ash Be Nimble
Cause: Preventing handbag theft
Cynicism meter: Medium. Seems more like a stunt than a real or effective product. Please see Handbag brand suggests exploding-dye accessory to colour thieves.
Title: Lucky Ride
Agency: CCCP-McCann Nicaragua
Client: Loto Nicaragua
Cynicism meter: Low. Ad Nut threw this in just to include one campaign that is obviously an award entry (witness the formulaic case-study video), but is not annoyingly claiming to create change in the world—except for the client. It's just a simple and apparently effective promo idea. Ad Nut is sure it won't win any awards.
Title: Shots of change
Agency: Agencia 3 (Rio de Janeiro)
Client: Bola Pra Frente Institute
Cause: NGO that provides sports education in an effort to save kids from drugs and violence
Cynicism meter: Initially high, but the agency claims the campaign resulted in an increase in admissions to its program.
Title: The day Shazam forgot
Client: Alzheimer's Research UK
Cause: Alzheimer's awareness/donations
Cynicism meter: Low. The agency claims it garnered 2 million impressions and 5,000 visits to a donation page.
Title: The Forgetting Tab
Agency: Isobar Vietnam
Client: Cốc Cốc
Cause: Alzheimer's disease awareness
Cynicism meter: Low. A decent awareness effort, and the agency reports it has resulted in 90,000 views.
Agency: Grey Group Australia
Client: Missing Persons Advocacy Network
Cause: Missing persons
Cynicism meter: Very low. Ad Nut loved this. Please see "Artists paint murals to make missing persons 'Unmissable'".
Title: KFC Amphibious Delivery
Agency: Ogilvy Philippines
Cause: Aid for a flooded village
Cynicism meter: Broken. Please see "Poor residents of a flooded Philippines village need...KFC?"
Title: The End
Agency: Y&R London
Cynicism meter: Medium to high. Nice design, and the agency says the campaign included print, OOH and social. But is a throwback to old movies really going to motivate donations or other forms of assistance?
Title: Hearing Rescue
Agency: BBDO Bangkok
Client: Thai Health Promotion Foundation and Deaf Association of Bangkok
Cause: Nighttime safety for people who use hearing aids
Cynicism meter: Low if this is a real effort to create the product and not just a concept video. High if it's the opposite.
Title: Real Problems
Agency: McCann Lima
Client: Save the Children Peru
Cause: Sex education / teen pregnancy
Cynicism meter: Low. Ad Nut is all for realistic sex education. And maths education too.
Title: Look at the Breast
Agency: Havas Worldwide China
Client: Fen Hong Si Dai
Cause: Breast-cancer awareness
Cynicism meter: Low. Another reasonable awareness-building effort, albeit painful to experience. Please see "52 nude 'models' aim to raise breast-cancer awareness".
Title: 'Where the streets have no name'
Agency: CCCP-McCann Nicaragua
Client: El Gallo más Gallo
Cause: "Managua, Nicaragua’s capital city of 1.5 million people, has lacked a system of street signs since the devastation wrought by the 6.2 earthquake that struck in 1972."
Cynicism meter: High. Only 50 or so signs were created, so lasting impact will be low and claims of "helping future generations to better navigate in the city" seem dubious.
Title: Please Watch and Buy My Girl
Agency: Blak Labs
Client: Hagar Singapore
Cynicism meter: Low. A well-intentioned effort to gain awareness, if perhaps a bit sensationalistic. See "Facebook post: 'Please watch and buy my girl'"
Title: Warm clothes also save lives
Agency: WMcCann (Brazil)
Client: Salvation Army
Cynicism meter: Medium.
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