Amnesty international disavow a Cannes Lions winner - did another scam ad get a Lion?

So, you've heard about the commotion caused by the French Amnesty ad: TBWA are two-faced, according to Chinese netheads.

The Wall street journal reports that TBWA Worldwide has gotten into trouble for the bronze Lion winning Amnesty International campaign "after the olympics".

So, the question is now - were the Amnesty "after the olympics" ads credited to TBWA Paris, ever approved? We know it won Bronze in Cannes. If it was a scam ad, shouldn't that bronze go to someone else? (or at the very least, be stripped from TBWA?)

Check out the cached version of - here's a screendump in case that changes (click for full dump).

This is no longer showing on and I can't find it in searches, so I really don't know what to make of that. does still have all full page dedicated to the China Olympics, so they're not afraid of the topic. However - Brandrepubic reported 17th of July that "Amnesty elected not to run the campaign because it was considered to be too "negative" and failed to get across its message on China" and:

Amnesty International's global HQ in London has disowned the print ads. A statement has been posted on its website homepage stating: "Amnesty International would like to make clear that it was not involved in the dissemination of a series of images that have been circulating on the web in relation to the Beijing Olympics."

An Amnesty UK spokesman said: "The ads were a response to a brief from Amnesty France, but they were rejected for being very negative and because they don't reflect our message on the Beijing Olympics.

Then how did they make it to Cannes?

Annoying for TBWA in China, this takes away attention from their over the top Adidas Olympic 2008 campaign "Zheng Zhi", "Together", "Hu Jia" and "Angels".

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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rodmace's picture

AI does not need to worry about its singals sent to China being considered as "too nagative" since it has no credibility or whatsoever amongst Chinese people. Hence, no one in China would pay the least attention on its co called campaign.

We've heard and seen enough from the AI and now it's the time to say "fXXk off, Amnesty"

Dabitch's picture

In case it's not abundantly clear, this article is about the Cannes Lions award being given to a campaign that by all accounts was not approved by the client.

Neaner's picture

This happens every year, we should just make it a tradition to have the Cannes fest in June and the recalled-Lions party sometime in late August where footage of scammers receiving their awards is shown in reverse.

Dabitch's picture

HAHAHA! I'd be all for that.

rodmace's picture

To DAbitch,

Let me make it easy for you to understand since it's quite clear that you are not good at using your brain.

Without the consent from the client, this time the AI, the adverts cannot be submitted to the Cannes for evaluation.

Clearly, TBWA got the consent from the AI. After winning the award and attracting attentions from general public in China, AI suddenly claims that it 'disowned' the ads but it did not argue about the previous consent to TBWA at all. Also, it mentioned about "dissemination" on the web but never said a word regarding publishing the ads in the Cannes.

To me, it is not hard to figure out what happened: AI was very happy with the ads and decided to give the consent to TBWA for the award. After observing the damage of its image due to the reaction from China, AI decided to 'back-off' and leave TBWA to take all the blame. TBWA clearly realised the problem and pointed out that only an account manager in Paris is the one to blame. The whole thing is laughable. AI and TBWA were playing ball-games, kicking the responsibility to others. At the end of the day, however, a pretty unlucky account manager has to been scarified.

End of the story.

purplesimon's picture

I note, rodmace, your title is lecturer. Got that right.

It also serves as a reminder to me that I hope I'm never in one of your 'lectures', whatever the subject might be (it's clearly not advertising).

Let me make that easy for you to understand, since it's clear that you are not good at using your brain

Slagging off the owner of a website is never a good idea, especially if you're pointing out something that we all know anyway. Anger management is also something you might want to consider.

No one has been sacked anyway, it's a pro bono account. That means they work for free.

End of the story.

alex's picture

I'm always a little suspicious of people who become members of a site just so they can pitch in to a debate. Begby comes to mind. Still, let's be welcoming here, and invite Rodmace to comment on the many other interesting threads going on hereabouts.

purplesimon's picture

There appears to be a rash of these types at the moment - and when you try to open them up to intelligent discussions they generally crawl back to the rock they inhabited previously. IMHO.

Opinion is fine, but statements such as 'you're a thicko' don't really help anyone.

alex's picture

I've always found 'you smell' to be a particularly effective insult. Especially coupled with that thing where you twist someone's arm so the skin really smarts. What's that called again?

purplesimon's picture

Oh, it's a Far Eastern burn, isn't it? Or perhaps an Iraqi burn? You're asking the wrong person as, being Jewish, I'd have to say German (chemical) burn. But to do that would be silly, IMHO.

And I do smell, it's a common problem with being human. Although sometimes I smell of soap or deodorant, other times I smell of beer. Occasionally I smell of stale sweat or arse gravy, or rotting plums. Actually, not sure of the last one, but just in case. :)

Allan1's picture

When I was growing up, they called it an Indian Burn (i.e. American Indian). That wouldn't be considered PC today, though.

RLDavies's picture

In the UK it's called a Chinese burn, which is what Alex was referring to.

Dabitch's picture

shoot now Alex' (as per Adland tradition) message placed between the lines is out in the open.

alex's picture

über-pwnage, dude

Neo's picture

Rodmace, you are so in the wrong for telling Dabitch off in such a rude manner when she is only pointing out that you might want to stick to the subject. You have no idea if TBWA sent the ads to Cannes without the approval of Amnesty International or not, unless you work there and can give us the inside scoop . Your theory is nothing but a wild guess, the same one that we've all made. Seeing what you think you know about advertising, it's clear that you work nowhere near it.

It really bothers me that the previous "Chinagate" threads are locked. Could you not re-open them now that the worst has passed?

Dabitch's picture

Forgot to highlight that the French campaign bears the URL: Amnesty.COM rather than .org. This opens up for far more theories of what went down than the single one that rodmace thinks is true.
(welcoming is one thing, welcome mat quite another - my patience is wearing quite thin.)

Neaner's picture

Looks like has been owned by some link-farmer/registrar since 1998. Registrar: DIRECTI INTERNET SOLUTIONS PVT. LTD. D/B/A PUBLICDOMAINREGISTRY.COM