This issue has been debated in the industry around the world for perhaps decades now with no clear resolution ever emerging. Sometimes, even one-off ads are also categorised as Scam Ads. To my mind, it is incorrect since many ideas such as Mother's Day, World's AIDS Day are anyway one-off opportunities. And equally, every unplanned ad is not a Scam Ad. For instance, there is this case of where we (O&M) did 'Hamara Walla Blue' for Asian Paints during the cricket world cup 1996.
Nothing is a scam ad if we were all lawyers. Or if we were all in an artistic village. According to the legal definition, a scam is something that has a fictitious advertiser or something that has not been released even once by a non-fictitious advertiser. Till this scam of a definition is changed, of course almost no ad is a scam! How long are we going to fool ourselves?
Today, except for some fools who insert ads for fictitious advertisers, most people at least ensure that the advertiser exists. It takes nothing to get one release of an ad today. There are friendly newspapers and channels all over the place. There are understanding clients who are generally happy to lend a signature to prove authenticity as long as they are on talking terms with their agencies. It's called motivation sometimes!
I blame our award system for this stupidity. Almost every award system (Effies is something we have created to assuage our conscience) has no clue or way to differentiate, respect or glorify an agency only on the great work done for the crores and crores of rupees clients actually spend! All they have is categories! A Balbir paasha aids awareness campaign, which put the fear of god in millions of merry bonkers, is judged along with a clever, oh so clever, non-smoking ad spoofing the Marlboro man whose existence few in this country are even aware of! And it's supposed to make the universe stop smoking! Ha ha ha ha ha!
And it wins at Cannes! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! A thanda matlab Coca-Cola needs four posters and print ads that wouldn't sell 1 ml of coke to make it eligible for a multi-media campaign category or grab the attention of an ignorant western jury seeking quaint Indian slants that they can understand. We must open up our awards to all artists of the world. After all their work works to sell a product creatively as much as our legal scams! So what if they don't belong to the AAAI or are called advertising agencies? Oh shit! I forgot. It's the legal definition we are concerned about! Sorry! Sorry!
R Balakrishnan, executive creative director, Lowe India