Showing posts with label WWF. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WWF. Show all posts

Thursday, September 3

Lacking Sense: WWF Brasil, DDB Brasil, The One Show

In less than a day after a WWF representative told Adweek that a controversial and tasteless advertisement that attempts to capitalize on the 9/11 atrocity was "never authorized or approved by any WWF person on the planet," WWF Brasil and DDB Brasil issued a joint statement of apology that indicates WWF does share responsibility. WWF even issued a statement to that effect.

"WWF Brasil and DDB Brasil would like to jointly express their regret for the unfortunate incident involving the 'Tsunami' ad for World Wildlife Fund Brasil. The ad does not convey either the philosophy of the client or that of its advertising agency.

It was created and approved in late 2008, mistakenly, and was solely the result of lack of experience on the part of a few professionals from both parties involved. In no way was it done in bad faith or with disrespect to American suffering.

WWF Brasil and DDB Brasil acknowledge that such an ad never should have been made, approved or published. We reiterate our apologies to all those who may have been offended by it. The two entities have worked together for three years to mobilize people, efforts and resources for the good of the environment. A single error should not obscure past successes, nor prevent future ones."

— WWF Brasil and DDB Brasil

The ad, called Tsunami, was created by a team at DDB Brasil in December 2008, approved by WWF Brasil and ran. According to the agency, the team that created the advertisement is no longer at the agency.

Despite that statement, Adweek's investigation has found the ad won an award of merit for public service at The One Show this year. It was also released again by the agency for inclusion in Advertolog this August.

While Sergio Valente, president of DDB Brasil, said it ran once in a small local paper and he stopped it from running again, the Advertolog submission lists him as the lead creative director along with Rodolfo Sampaio, Julio Andery, and Guilherme Jahara. Based the number of occasions their names appear together, all of these people seem to be on the agency payroll, along with Adriano Matos, copywriter. Either that, or their departures were very recent.

Public Relations Sometimes Means Investigation

Where WWF went wrong was in issuing a statement before the investigation. Since, they haven't made any noise about the discovery that their promise — "On behalf of WWF, here in the US and around the world, we can promise you this ad does not in any way reflect the thoughts and feelings of the people of our organization.” — was flawed in that someone at a WWF office did approve the ad.

And, according to Valente, he (and not anyone at WWF) was the one to stop it. Or this.

The lesson here is simple enough for public relations practitioners. Never make hard statements until you have the facts.

If there was any chance anyone at WWF was involved, saying there was an investigation ought to have been enough. As for everyone else, the lessons become slightly more complex with common sense serving as the foundation for all of it.

WWF Brasil needs to do more than issue a joint apology. DDB Brasil ought to stop adding more confusion to what seems to be a growing mountain of mistruths. And The One Show might rethink its selection process.

Advertising awards don't need to be an exercise in creating over-the-top ads that most clients would not approve, run it once, and then take home trophies. If that is all there is to it, The One Show ought to pass out an award to the casino marketing professional who cheered on the California wildfires on Facebook last week because it might mean business.

Funny, huh?

Sure, we all take chances in advertising. But you don't take so many chances that your ability to crow over awards becomes eating crow over ethics. More on this soon.

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