creative ad awards are the worst clients


Following the "scandal" with the offending ad previously mentioned and shown here, Paul Lavoie has resigned as chairman of the 2002 Marketing Awards. He resigned as part in protest over the firing Monday of Cameron Gardner, executive publisher of the Marketing Media Group, producers of Marketing Magazine etc. Gardner was let go because of a "sexually explicit" ad promoting the awards show that ran in a recent issue of the magazine. The ad was created by Toronto's Taxi, where Lavoie is president.... The editor of Marketing has a message as a response..

Lavoie says that he stands by the advertising and the strategy behind it.

"I think the ads were in a trade magazine and the intention was to demonstrate that this show would've been a quality show... The other thing is we tried to use a language that would talk to jaded creatives who have seen a lot of stuff. We had to do it in a way that it would get noticed," he says. His resignation has sparked speculation that agencies might demonstrate support to Gardner and Lavoie by not entering the Marketing Awards. (Or perhaps, they may fear that any remotly 'crazy creative' stuff may not win!)

A message from the editor of Marketing
Paul Lavoie has stepped down as the chair of the 2002 Marketing Awards and given his reasons to our reporter and others.

We respect Paul Lavoie and his agency Taxi and we understand and respect his position. He's been an enthusiastic and hard-working chair. The Marketing Awards, of course, will go on. So we're obviously disappointed that he won't be finishing the job we've started together. We're hoping he'll reconsider.

Sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do.

That said, this situation in context amounts to a disagreement between one agency and one client about one ad.

Paul has said to me and others that this isn't the first time, nor will it be the last time, that a client has pulled an ad. Senior managers at Rogers Publishing, our bosses, have told us the ad was inappropriate and crossed the line. It's their right and responsibility to make those policy decisions for the company they manage. Paul accepts that, and I accept that.

What Paul says he finds unacceptable is that Cam Gardner's departure from the publisher's job should be caused by this ad. It's a link he's free to make in his own mind, but it's by no means a certainty.

Rogers Publishing management are not telling us what is behind Cam's departure. I honestly don't know why Cam is no longer here. But I'm confident that this ad alone isn't the reason or even a major reason. This is ultimately an issue between Cam and his bosses.

The staff at Marketing are stunned and saddened by Cam's departure more than anyone. We've lost a good boss and in most cases a friend and a mentor. And it is a loss for the larger ad community too.

But the Marketing team that Cam has lead for the past seven years remains, and it will continue to produce the excellent editorial and event products it always has.

The Marketing Awards will go on. While Marketing produces these awards, their great success over the decades has been because it is the Canadian ad community who truly owns them. They support them with their entries and with their commitment of time and talent to judge them. No matter who chairs and judges them, that never changes.

We're confident that the leaders in the Canadian ad community will think very hard before abandoning such an important and long-standing institution over an apology for one ad. Especially when that ad is one that many agency professionals, if they are honest with themselves, know would be rejected as inappropriate by 90% of their clients. -Stan Sutter

Paul Lavoie said: "The point is this: This is a creative advertising awards show, and creative advertising awards should not censor creative.". Right on Paul.

Mr. Lavoie also says he is "appalled" by Mr. Gardner's firing and accused Rogers, whose cable affiliate shows nudity on channels it carries, of having a double standard. "There's no way I can continue being chairman of the awards show and... falsely champion creativity when it gets censored at the door," he said.

The Marketing Awards could be thrown into turmoil if other agencies bolt from the show in support of Mr. Lavoie and Mr. Gardner. "I'm not really feeling good about it right now," said John Farquhar, president and CEO of Young and Rubicam in Toronto and a former Marketing Awards judge. "I'm just reviewing it"

He said the firing of Mr. Gardner, whom he called a "tireless supporter" of the ad industry, was "beyond severe".

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

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