There is something wrong about our industry’s craze for awards. Especially when a campaign made out of stock images actually wins a Bronze Cannes Lion.
Spoiler alert – the stock images were also “stolen” from a graphic artist.
Building a campaign out of stock imagery can seem uncreative. Winning a Cannes Lion with a campaign made out of stock imagery can seem downward ridiculous. And when the said stock imagery is also “copied” from the work of an illustrator who was not involved in the campaign, we start to see the real issue with the award-driven state of our beloved advertising industry.
Dutch illustrator Rik Oostenbroek was very surprised when he saw that a Hyundai campaign designed by agency MullenLowe SSP3 in Colombia was using stock imagery that blatantly copies his signature style. He was even more so surprised when learning that the said campaign won a bronze Lion in the Cannes Lions Print & Publishing category this year, as well as a Wood Pencil at the D&AD Awards last month.
Oostenbroek told Adweek he first noticed the Hyundai work on Behance and left a comment about the similarity to his work. He then received a response from Carlos Andrés Rodríguez, CCO of MullenLowe SSP3, who apologized and told him that the agency did not intend to steal his work. In their exchange, Rodriguez also made clear that the agency legally purchased the rights for the illustrations through Shutterstock.
“If you literally copy and paste something and stick a line of copy on it, I don’t think it’s worthy of an award.” – Chris Garbutt, global CCO, TBWA\Worldwide
Of course, stock imagery can find its place into high quality creative. But when such simple and straight forward use of something created by something else can win you one of the most prestigious award in our industry, one must ask how much legitimacy such awards still have…
“Building a campaign from a stock collection is quite lazy. Had we been aware that this was the case, it would have altered our rating of the piece.” – a Cannes Lions juror, speaking on condition of anonymity
Here are the 3 ads and their Shutterstock counterparts. What do you think?