The Chillies: Awards, Scams and Ghost Ads

The Chillies is around the corner. Time for scam artists to show their true colours once again.

It is not wrong to say that advertising industry in Sri Lanka is largely run from Colombo; there is no noticeable work coming from Kandy, Matara, Galle, Jaffna, Badulla or any other regional centre. I may be wrong if the ever-so-interesting bus “decorations” qualify to be called advertising, that is. There are no ‘agencies’ outside Colombo since the whole country is such a small place.

There’s the Chillies, the SLIM’s – the People’s Awards, the Effies, the Reggies and various other industry accolades and titles, up for grabs every year. Also there’s the Sumathi’s, Sarasavi and all kinds of labels for the Advertising, Marketing and Media industry including the “Superbrands.” All this, for Colombo – a tiny city that houses 0.65 million people in 40 square kilometres of space.

Consider the total ad spend of the country, remove the political spending and I’m sure we are left with something that’s not even worth this many award ceremonies.

Too many awards, for a tiny industry in a tiny city. Looks like, and feels like, quantity over quality – doesn’t it?

Agree that the awards are meant to be “conceptually” very different from one another. The Chillies are meant to award creativity, the People’s Awards are for popularity and the Effies are for advertising effectiveness. The trouble is, when there is an overlap, and the market is too small to understand the difference or lacks variety to fill all the criteria, the “grey area” looks so grey that the whole awards business looks a bit dodgy and unclear.

Besides, the organisers come-up machinations to ensure the metals go to those who are in their favour. Pretty much like patting one’s own back, or you scratch mine and I’ll scratch yours, really.

Ok, we have the international judges. But no amount of great judges will be able to conduct a clean business in a place infested with crooks. Just like FP7 Doha winning at Dubai Lynx (and Cannes) with some ghost ads, only to be exposed later and eventually get stripped off the titles and thrown in the hall of shame. If the crooks could fool Cannes and Lynx, the Chillies is peanuts for the local masterminds.

The awards need to earn their credibility. I think People’s awards are pretty decent, largely due to Nielsen professionalism, but then there are some who depend on Lanka Market Research Bureau (LMRB) for research too. The last time I read a report from LMRB, it stated “Style” enjoyed a top spot in magazine readership, when in fact, the magazine was discontinued more than three years before the report came out.

The tiny city of 40 square kilometres is filled with the best and the worst, the good and the bad. The honest and the devious. In a country where there is no respect for the consumer, where there is no self-discipline or moral code of conduct, who are we kidding really?? Just like LMRB and Superbrands, the Chillies 2009 is also not going to be any different this time either.

Image: One of the FP7’s ghost ads. Check out http://adsoftheworld.com/media/print/samsung_wf338aab_ink to see the rest of the campaign.

1 comment:

  1. whow...i think Chillies was critisized of being quite partial to one agency i suppose?

    ..But i really like thier ad campaign.."Chillies You Can't Kill it"...the paper ad series is awesome..lol