Hanes: of ‘vest’ed interests and wrong briefs

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Advertising news makes it to the front page of Economic Times again (after Goafest), but for wrong reasons. Reports say that a set of ads supposedly released for Hanes in the Free Press Journal during the last week of Decmeber ’07 (this has scam written all over it) has landed the agency in international troubled waters. The ads featured a man dragging offensive images and racist words associated with the gay (f***ot), the African-American (n***er) and the South Asian (P**i) communities. The client has not taken it too kindly since it was released without their approval and appearently even the knowledge of the agency CEO in India. The global HQ of Hanes put it bluntly:

“These are fake ads created by the agency without our knowledge and for its interest only. The fake ads were inappropriate and unethically developed by McCann-Erickson and they have committed the worst possible breach of trust, and the repercussions will clearly be of the most severe kind.”

Seems like an overenthusisastic team kept awards as the sole purpose and created these ads. If this does not call for strict guidelines on awards, what does? In my view, awards have taken centrestage in the mind space of young creatives and they seem to live, breathe and think for them, at the cost of real, live brands of their existing clients. The lack of a brief or a marketing probelm to address is seen as creative freedom. Usually the client in these cases is an obscure sea food restaurant, an NGO or an unsuspecting dentist, much like the Maria D’Souza in the Goafest ads.

Scamming on a large, global clients comes at a cost. Yet, a disproportionate amount of time is spent on such activities. How do we put an end to this? Any thoughts?

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