WASHINGTON, DC, September 1, 2009 - World Wildlife Fund today issued the following statement in response to an ad posted on several Internet sites that has been inaccurately linked to our organization and contains messages and images related to the events of 9-11.
"WWF strongly condemns this offensive and tasteless ad and did not authorize its production or publication. It is our understanding that it was a concept offered by an outside advertising agency seeking our business in Brazil. The concept was summarily rejected by WWF and should never have seen the light of day. It is an unauthorized use of our logo and we are aggressively pursuing action to have it removed from websites where it is being currently featured. We strongly condemn the messages and the images portrayed in this ad. 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."
Lest I get AdRants in any trouble over a previous incident involving a submitted ad, ahem, this shit goes on all the time at a few specific sites and nobody does anything about it. Sure seems like WWF would be able to sue in this case, because what applies to one ad blog applies to all.
But this isn't about spec work per se.
ALL shops do some degree of it when going after new business. Many shops create stuff for award shows that comes out of client budgets. (This campaign won at the One Show by the way.)
The line was crossed not with the decision to do spec, but when the work was rejected by a potential client in WWF, DDB went ahead and entered it anyway. Putting it out there like this now damages their reputation. Specificially, using the 9/11 theme.
As noted, spec happens, of course. But mention 9/11 and it still pushes buttons around these here parts. If Nazi symbolism is illegal in Germany, then this kind of 9/11 work needs to have the same amount of creative no-fly respect paid to it. Especially by agencies in other countries--in the same ad network.
More than that, you didn't challenge me with something cool, thoughtful. Getting a reaction out of an event like 9/11 is too easy, because it wasn't just a natural disaster, rather, it was born out of deliberate intent. I feel bad for the tsunami victims and the tremendous loss of life, but mention 9/11 in this way and I get sick, then angry.
I was talking to someone about this today who said maybe the creatives didn't know what impact it would have. My response was: A) What if they did and wanted to shock, and B) Hard to believe at this point that a global shop like DDB who has creatives moving around all the time had no clue.
(This is also another example of what happens in Brazil doesn't stay in Brazil, because everyone sees what you do now no matter what agency you work for. Hello interwebs.)