Gulf ad-agency TV scandal

Chris Forrester

Dubai’s Lynx advertising awards have rapidly established themselves as a high-status series of gongs for the local advertising community. But now the Lynx award committee have stripped one of the Middle East’s oldest-established and most prestigious creative houses of its recently-awarded ‘Agency of the Year’ prize as well as many of the individual prizes.

The troubled agency is the Doha branch of Fortune Promo 7 (FP7). Dubai Lynx is mounting a thorough investigation into all the prizes awarded to FP7. These include a total of 18 submissions for recognition, and 7 awards handed out as a result including, one Gold prize for a print campaign, another Gold for a TV and Cinema campaign, 3 Silver prizes for print activity, a Silver for outdoor work, and a Bronze award for another TV/cinema campaign. 10 other “shortlisted” prizes were also disallowed.

One of the grumbles came from Samsung which said – despite the award – that it had not commissioned the agency to do any work in the region! Worse, the submitted ad that won an award – in the Middle East remember - featured Jesus taking pictures of a group of nuns using a Samsung camera! Philip Thomas, Dubai Lynx CEO, said in a statement: "Even before the awards night we had withdrawn a number of pieces of work from the competition but subsequently our investigation has found other pieces that were presented to the jury that infringed our requirement that all work presented must represent the client who approved it.”

"Due to the scale of withdrawals we feel it inappropriate to honour FP7 Doha as Agency of the Year and so will be withdrawing the prize. I hope that this swift action makes clear our determination to build an award with true integrity for the region," added Thomas.

One critic cites a number of other fraudulent claims/entries made by FP7, including a supposed ad for a Nissan Quest vehicle – but where the vehicle is not sold in the Middle East. FP7’s website still proclaims itself as the “Agency of the Year”, citing the Dubai Lynx awards. Last year they celebrated 40 years in the business. FP7 is associated with the Interpublic Group (IPG).