Tuesday, January 30, 2007


To quote Campaign magazine 'Pro-bono' ads are, as their Latin label suggests, meant to be 'for good'.
I bet a certain young lady that her agency would enter one of the above pro bono campaigns into award ceremonies. She, at the time, adamantly insisted that there was no way...

Our conversation below:

ME: U owe me money... page X campaign, happens to have a pro bono ad I bet you you'd enter...
HER: and why wouldn't I...It got shortlisted!
ME: yes, thank u, i figured that out...u seem to have missed the point.
HER: Scores will be settled on the 12th of Feb...

Then it gets a little personal...

hmmm, awards, awards, awards....

Just to clarify, I think entering both of the above campaigns destroys the idea of 'pro-bono' but hey as she so eloquently put 'it got shortlisted'


Anonymous Anonymous said...

By very definition Pro Bono and Awards should not be a joint strategy. I'm always cynical about agencies taking on Pro Bono work. Not because I don't believe in the great of good but because agencies tend to prove me right by rubbing their hands together and thinking 'Sweet, a client with no financial power over us to be really creative and therefore get some awards'.

If this is an effectiveness award then I'd be happy so I'd like some clarification on this. If it's a mere creative one which is remembered for one evening, the agency gets drunk and the creatives leverage it for a better paid job then I am again, let down. Sigh

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see a problem with entering pro bono ads in awards shows. its a win win situation. My problem with it is that pro bono ads aren't written to asnwer to real briefs. This encourages the 'scam ad' culture which all of us are guilty of.

Lets focus on real jobs and do real award winning work.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Incognito said...

Interesting look at pro-bono X. It seems to have become a hot topic of late.

To send for awards or not to send for awards.

Personally, I don't think it's the highest standard of morals when agencies send their pro-bono work for awards.

Of course I'm saying that with the full knowledge that advertising execs are actually the 2nd least trusted professionals in the world as judged by 'regular people'(thank GOD for used car salesmen).

In my humble opinion - I don't think there's anything wrong with giving awards for pro-bono work.

Yes. If you're doing it for awards, you are doing it for the wrong reasons. Yet the sad truth is that most agencies do it for awards. That's just the way of the world - our world.

So - especially if it will incentivize vain, glory-seeking but exceptionally talented indivduals like us to create more pro-bono work, even if to win awards - why not reward great pro-bono work with awards?

If it means, even in the name of vanity, that there will be more creative and potentially effective work on something more important to society than having the latest sneakers - than so be it.

But you know what? It's sad that all of the pro-bono work I have seen nominated/entered into Campaign's creative awards I have only actually seen in Campaign.

A lot of pro-bono ads have probably only appeared a few times in publications - just so they can be entered into awards and not to actually communicate the message for the greater good of society.

THAT is what I call hypocrisy and THAT is what should be debated.

I'm all for awards for pro-bono - but work should be judged on the basis of their effectiveness in the market, not just how smart they are.

Maybe instead of trophies, Campaign should give funding to bring the best pro-bono work to life in the market. To actually RUN the damn campaigns that are award winning.

What do you think X? Would that then satisfy the glory-seekers and society alike?

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think entries should be evaluated on a case by case entry...i think these two ads are particularly sensitive due to the currently ongoing situation in Lebanon, nothing is solved...and these ads are meant to contribute in some form or another to a solution (even though miniscule). Not to enter a political debate but it is no secret that the cause is not over and done with and to submit these leaves me a little sceptical.

5:21 PM  
Blogger X said...

Just to clarify, the agencys behind these submissions are Leo Burnett Beirut 05amam and Saatchi Dubai Re-lebanon print.

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason u probably didn't see the Amam is cause it ran in Lebanon...

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally feel there is absolutly nothing wrong with entering them into awards...so what I agree with that person X, why shouldn't they...we should get credit as an industry for good work (hence the award shows) and both of these pieces are good work...so why not X.

10:45 AM  
Blogger X said...

anonymous, you are aware that we are an industry with the most award ceremonies...
hmmm yes the annual Heart Surgery Awards are 3 days after Campaign's! did ya get tickets????
apparently last year the Cleveland Clinic swept the Grand Golden Aorta

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey X,
Let's all stop. Breathe. For a start why are you picking only on these two entries? The others on the Campaign ME Pro-bono shortlist include: A DM piece to rebuild Lebanon, an ad to promote child literacy, another ad to stop illtreatment of prisoners for Amnesty and a TVC to stop child-beating. Why don't these destroy the alleged spine of 'Pro-Bono'? All of these were created for a cause and received the best 'free' media coverage they could get. Did they do their job? Yes, they did. They raised awareness, touched a heart or two, provoked a mind or two and did what they could.
And now to address your concerns about entering these for awards. What is wrong with that? For a start, Campaign ME is donating the money they receive as 'Entry Fee' on this category to the organisation of the winning ad.
And secondly, advertising awards appreciate good advertising. And our world includes creating work for detergents, watches, islands in the shape of tree and the occasional charity organisation. There's really no reason for us to sit on any high-horse and cast the 'Pro-bono' category as a place where we are meant cleanse our souls.
And if we really want to drag ethics into our world, there are far more worthy debates we can have: cigarette advertising, alcohol advertising and the worst of them all - advertising 'fairness' creams.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats not the point X, the point is things are as they are...we happen to have award which we are judges on so why not.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous TATOO said...

Why have a pro-bono category in award shows anyway? An ad is an ad, whether it was done for free or not, it should not be judged any differently at award shows. I think the whole idea of having a pro-bono category is wrong. Or maybe the category is named wrong…shouldn't it be called "cause-marketing" or "social marketing"? In which case, the category would include all ads that are for a charitable or social cause, including, for example (hypothetically), a campaign paid for by a client, e.g etisalat social awareness for child abuse or whatever.
Maybe when ads stop being given the special treatment because they are "pro-bono", agencies will stop doing them just for the sake of doing them. Whoever commented on the post about the ads not appearing anywhere is right….I don't know about the 05amam ad, but where did we see the Re-Lebanon ad done by Saatchi other than in Campaign magazine?

If pro-bono means "presenting an ad that the creative came up with which everyone thought was good and so we decided to submit it to an awards show", then fine, but in this case, any agency can present any campaign, because really the sky's the limit. There are so many causes one can do pro-bono work for, why not make it a point to churn out one pro-bono ad a month.

My point is, anyone can be creative for the sake of being creative….but pro-bono work should be about being creative for the sake of being effective.

Isn't the whole point of an ad (whether pro-bono or not) to generate some sort of reaction out of people? So if an ad is not published anywhere, what's the point?

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the re-lebanon campaign ran in the buzz.

4:11 PM  
Blogger X said...

Hey anonymous,
All very valid points and no particular reason I used these two ads, random selection I suppose:)
The idea that I am against, in simpler terms, is creatives or agencys using a struggle as a means to elevate ones status. There are one of two reasons someone would conceive pro bono work 1) To actually help a cause or 2) To benefit from it. Both equally probable in our industry. I am obviously against the latter which is where awards lend themselves.

But then again most would argue that one is an ends and the other an effect of that respective end i.e 'I help a cause and in the process why not benefit from it'.
So I suppose maybe it's best not to assume...I guess the answer lies in the question...how many of the people whos names are on these ads actually responded to the cause behind their ads and contributed themselves to that 'occasional charity organization'.(again not talking about these ads in specific)

At least where and when the means and contexts allow, I assume they are people who endorse their clients own products...

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anyonymous 56 said...

Re-lebanon ran in quite a few places, not just the buzz. Speaking of shouldn't media, the people involved in placing these ads get some form of credit, since we are indeed giving away credit?

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anyonymous 56 said...

to add to that, I actually saw it on al Jazeera a number of times as well...to those of u that dont think it ran, it did...

7:04 PM  
Anonymous gb said...

that wasn't saatchi.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous farrukh: copywriter & journalist said...

All advertising must be judged on effectiveness, as the gentle readers above have pointed out.

Pro bono or otherwise.

Awarding pro bono work by donating the value of the award to the advertising charity/cause is a good idea though.

What makes me sick is pseudo-creative work which says 'Hey awards jury, look at me - I'm such a creative ad' but does nothing to help the cause it is supposed to be helping, in practical terms.

Effectiveness measurement is the way to go to put an end to this.

How much money did the ad raise? How many wars did it stop? How many homes did it rebuild? How many eye donors did it bring in?

Doesn't sound like fun anymore, does it?

1:50 AM  

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