on local ad agency being stripped off its awards

First published in Cape Argus on October 21, 2013 

Metropolitan Republic, the advertising agency that was recently stripped of all the awards it won at this year’s Loeries, says it is “aggrieved’ and found it “strange” that it was required to give back all its awards.

This comes after Loeries organisers announced that Project Uganda, a campaign that Metropolitan Republic had designed for MTN, had never appeared in newspapers, which meant that it did not meet the criteria.

The campaign won a top Loeries Grand Prix award for media innovation, a gold award for tactical use of newspaper advertising and another gold award in the ubuntu category for sustainable marketing.

The agency was stripped of all the awards it received for the Project Uganda campaign and all other awards it received at last month’s awards ceremony held in Cape Town.

Alison Deeb, Metropolitan Republic’s chief executive, said on Sunday that the other awards it had won included another gold Loerie, two bronze and a silver for campaigns for other clients.

Deeb said: “It feels very strange that we are asked to give back everything. We are aggrieved at this…”

She explained that her staff had entered the MTN campaign into the awards even though they should not have, because the client, MTN, was still in the process of making a final decision on it.

“It (the MTN campaign) is real and it was shown to the client and approved.”

The agency claimed, in its entry, that the campaign had run in Ugandan newspapers. The newspaper ad claimed to have had printed pictures of library books that students could access using a code on their cellphones.

Deeb said her staff had entered the work into the Loeries without her approval and that she took full responsibility for this.

Apart from being stripped of its awards, the agency’s representatives will not be allowed to sit as Loeries judges for the next two years.

Also, any entries submitted by it, for the next two years, must be accompanied by a media schedule, a letter from the brand representative, and the contact details of the brand representative.

Deeb said these penalties were too harsh as protocol should be tightened by the agencies and the Loeries.

She said if her agency was required to submit all these extra details, then other agencies needed to be required to do the same.

“We should all look at how we can all learn from this.”

Andrew Human, The Loeries chief executive, said never before had an award been withdrawn since it became a non-profit association in 2005.

“The overriding principle of the Loeries is an expectation that agencies ensure that true and correct information is provided for their entries, and this will continue to be the principle with which entries will be managed. However, in order to minimise the possibility of such an event occurring in future, all procedures, terms and conditions will be reviewed.”

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