Saatchi and Saatchi have been caught out over a fake ad that won a bronze award at the prestigious Cannes ad festival.
According to Ad Age's Creativity web site
"Although J.C. Penney has received a lot of well-deserved attention for the creative makeover it's gotten from Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, the retailer is up in arms over a fake spot that earned a Bronze Lion at this year's Cannes International Advertising Festival. The "Speed Dressing" ad, directed by former Saatchi creative Mike Long out of Epoch Films, features a teenage boy and girl respectively running through drills, quickly stripping and re-dressing themselves, in preparation for an upcoming rendezvous in the girl's basement while her mother is at home. The ad has been circulating on Youtube since Monday. J.C. Penney never signed off on the spot and disapproves of its apparent promotion of teen sex.
"J.C. Penney was deeply disappointed to learn that our name and logo were used in the creation and distribution of a commercial that was submitted to the 2008 International Advertising Festival at Cannes," the company said in a statement to Creativity. "No one at J.C. Penney was aware of the ad or participated in the creation of it in any way. The commercial was never broadcast, but rather was created by a former employee at J.C. Penney's advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, solely as an award submission without J.C. Penney's knowledge or prior approval. J.C. Penney does not approve or condone its content, and we have asked Saatchi & Saatchi to remove the ad from online circulation and to apologize to our customers and our associates for misrepresenting our company in this manner."
A humiliated Saatchi's issued an apology and tried to distance itself from the ad - saying the film company made and entered the commercial off their own bat.
It isn't the first time a scam ad has been entered into awards - one that only ran once, if ever at all.
The thing about the commercial that I find interesting is that it doesn't seem to be a winner to me, under any circumstances. I don't find the content at all prurient, tittilating or even funny. In the era of American Pie the bar for stupid teenage comedy and sex jokes has been irrevocably lowered. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating a return to Joanie Loves Chachi .
Aside from the sexual reference it would surprise me if the commercial would have made any difference to J.C.Penney's sales - other than a negative one - had it been approved and run on their behalf.
It seems old school advertising is becoming less and less in touch with its clients and consumers alike.