This research project has explored selected ethical issues raised by scam advertising in the
South African advertising industry, as well as in relation to a wider discourse on advertising
awards. In Chapter One the aims of the study were introduced, and some background
information on the practice was provided. A literature review was also performed on previous
research that has been conducted on this subject. It was discovered that very little of this sort of
research has been done, and none of it has been done in a South African context.
Chapter Two focused on the phenomenon of scam advertising in order to gain a better
understanding of the practice thereof. Advertising agencies rely on creative rankings in order to
get onto long and shortlists to pitch to new clients and thus gain new clients and new business.
This fulfils the first research objective: to understand how advertising creatives attract new
business and clients, and how this has changed over the years. The second research objective is
to examine how this shift in attracting clients has caused scam advertising to come about. One
finds that the only way to better one's creative ranking is to win more awards at both local and
international awards shows. However, once agencies are appointed by a new client, the client
rarely allows them to work at a creative level sufficient to win more awards, thus agencies and
creatives turn to scam advertising in order to fulfil this need.
At this point it can easily start to appear that advertising awards shows only exist to fuel this
need for creative rankings, and may therefore even unintentionally encourage scam advertising.
Awards shows fulfil important roles in the industry: they serve as inspiration for creatives, and
allow for an official ranking by an independent authority. There are many critiques against
advertising awards shows as well, however, and Raszl (2009) points out a few areas that he
believes needs to be reformed: not taking the effectiveness of a campaign into consideration
when judging, not being strict enough against scam advertising, the high cost of entry into
awards shows, and that awards shows should not only exist to reward creatives. Adding onto
this, Goodwin (2015) also proposes that awards shows should include new categories, such as
"Biggest Failure", "Performance Marketing", "Experience Design", and "Best Business
Solution". In order to combat the trend of scam advertising, advertising awards shows have
implemented increasingly stringent rules. There is no consensus in the industry or among
creatives as to what constitutes scam advertising, however, which leaves one unable to form
a clear definition of scam advertising. But by combining the different rules from advertising
awards shows, one is able to list different characteristics that may deem advertising as scam
advertising by some:
1. advertising that was created and/or entered without the client s consent,
2. advertising that was created for a fake client,
3. and advertising that was never aired, flighted, published or launched. 4. advertising that was only flighted once or executed in accordance with minimum airing
or publishing requirements,
5. advertising that was created for the sole purpose of entering it into awards,
6. advertising created without a genuine brief from a client, and/or
7. advertising paid for by the advertising agency itself.
As has been mentioned, not all of these rules hold for all of the awards shows, however: what is
considered acceptable by one awards show, may be regarded as scam advertising by another.
Therefore eligibility for entry into an awards show is separate from an advertisement's
perceived status as scam advertising by some. This fulfils the third research objective: to
explore the role of advertising awards shows and their rules, and to formulate a description of
scam advertising to be used in this dissertation.
Scam advertising also holds many benefits and disadvantages for both creatives and advertising
agencies. This is explored by looking at an example of scam advertising that was exposed at the
2013 Loerie Awards MetropolitanRepublic' Project Uganda which was executed for MTN
Uganda. Through examining this example it was discovered that agencies that get caught out for
scam advertising can face the following consequences:
1. The agency's reputation can be harmed.
2. The agency can be reprimanded by official bodies, such as the Loerie Awards or the
3. The agency can lose the client that they created scam advertising on behalf of.
4. The agency can lose other clients that do not want to be affiliated with an agency
that creates scam advertising.
5. Damage can be incurred to the brand of the client for whom the scam advertising
When looking at possible benefits for an agency that enters scam advertising and does not get
caught, the following can occur:
1. The agency can win creativity awards which would mean:
a. receiving a higher creative ranking and
b. reassurance for existing clients that they're in safe hands.
2. The agency can win new clients.
3. The agency can draw in creatives that want to work there.
4. The agency can receive exposure due to their work.
5. The agency can gauge the quality of their work against their peers'.
6. Clients may be encouraged to take more risks and trust the creative process.
By looking at all of the different benefits and disadvantages that creatives face from creating
scam advertising, one finds the following:
1. Creatives can gain recognition, respect and acknowledgement from their peers.
2. Creatives can be promoted.