I have just been roped in to be one of the judges for the final round of the CCA with the International jury who were invited to bring their seasoned international eyes to the fray. The spread was pretty impressive I must say and the out-of-towners thought that the standard was none too shabby, which is good news. As usual, Saatchi had several very solid campaigns on display many of which I’m sure will result in a fistful of medals.
I am pleased to say that the stringent rules put in place by the organisers kept the rash of scam ads down to a mere itch here and there. Hooray and hurrah for such rulings as the one that demands that an ad have to have actually run before it can be entered. And what about the need for work to be for a real client of the agency you work for! Another breakthrough. Who knows, next year the organisers, emboldened by their success this year, might even insist that TVCs entered in the Budget, produced under $30,000 category, be just that. (Although I might be asking too much here.)
There was of course still scope for the scammers amongst us to vent their creative juices however. The poster category, true to form, still managed to harbour its fair share of obvious interlopers. A few of the favourites amongst the International judges were the ad for a paper company that features a piece of paper rolled into the shape of a KKK mask with holes for the eyes and a line along the lines of ‘extremely white’. And this for an Indonesian paper company at that.
And then there was everyone’s favourite; a poster with an actual catheter stuck to it and an invitation to push the attached device up one’s willy! The reason for this tearful act was explained in a line that told us that smokers get bladder cancer. We were left to presume that the purpose of shoving the plastic tube up the urinary tract was obviously so one could puff cigarettes through ones penis, thus inflicting the bladder with cancer. It was deduced that this peculiar practice had been brought about by Singapore’s strict No Smoking in the office rules. The handy catheter enabled the hardened nicotine addict to have a crafty penile puff by hanging the offending fag out of the window whilst the other end is surreptitiously fed up the trouser leg and attached to his old fellow. Isn’t it amazing what one can learn from reading ads?
The other enlightening, and frightening, lesson was that we Singaporeans are a nation of maid beaters and worse! A poster campaign, apparently for the Samaritans, informed us all that maids suffer unduly at our hands. The mere fact that these domestic workers are so frequently put under the rod, or under the man of the house, that there needs to be an advertising campaign to inform the public at large that this is really not on is worrying. The star of the three posters featured a graphic close up of a fresh dog turd. The reason for this frankly nauseating attempt at garnering attention was to bring home the fact that we Singaporeans apparently feed such repulsive things to our maids. To drum this home, the headline said something along the lines of, ‘many maids are made to eat leftovers’. (Now there’s a thought that could cause impromptu second look at your breakfast.)
I must say that this graphic campaign, the other posters featured a pregnant maid who had been ‘made to feel part of the family’ and a woman who had obviously been whipped to within an inch of her life, left me thoughtful. Have I been too soft on my maid? Should I be demanding more that a cup of coffee each morning? Should I get a dog? Should whoever was responsible for these posters be whipped and fed dog’s do-dos themselves? Who knows and, frankly, who am I to judge. Anyway, the CCA book this year (yes, there is going to be a book) is going to have bad ads at the back section. So, do your worst.
All that now awaits us is the Awards night. The annual debacle that proves consistently that yes, it’s true, the 4As cannot organise a piss up in (or at least very near to) a brewery. The best one can say about it is that it could not possibly be as abysmally appalling as last year. Or could it? I shall be inviting anyone who is interested to come to the independent CCA. In this case, CCA is the acronym for creatively challenged awards. We invite those who wish to turn up to bring their most idea lacking ads to Carnegies where they will be displayed in all their glory. The auntie who mops up after the revelers will then pick her favourite and the creators will each receive their own monogrammed willy smoking catheter plus several free Boddingtons. Then we’ll all get pissed and make out like ad people should. After that we’ll head of home, beat our maids, and put burning crosses on people’s lawns.
Now, if that’s not the recipe for a good night out then I don’t know what is.
Article published in AdAsia Nov 2000