Last Wednesday a company called “Lucky Iron Fish” and WPP’s Geometry Global Dubai won Grands Prix in Product Design for a piece of iron shaped like a fish that helped curb iron deficiency in Cambodia.
But soon after, complaints surfaced about Geometry’s role or more accurately its lack of a role in the product’s development. The Cannes organization took another look and by Friday the WPP shop had agreed not to accept the prize.
The official explanation was a mix-up and a misunderstanding on the part of Lucky Iron Fish and the agency that it was the agency’s job to submit the entry and as the submitting agency it shared in the prize. As it turns out product designers themselves are eligible to submit their entries directly, which is what Lucky Iron Fish could have done.
And while misunderstandings happen, at least one Jury President at this year’s festival—David Lubars, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer at BBDO, who ran the judging for the Branded Entertainment Category—raised the issue of playing fair with submissions.
Commenting at the Saturday night awards ceremony he said that Cannes is “the greatest place on earth to celebrate the truths we tell for our clients’ brands. I would humbly submit that when we go back to our offices we also celebrate truthful entries.”
Asked later if he was referring specifically to the “Lucky Iron Fish” controversy, he replied via a spokesman, “Yes, I was referring to that.”
Here is Geometry Global’s statement on the turn of events:
“CLARIFICATION BY GEOMETRY GLOBAL
Geometry Global Dubai and Memac Ogilvy MENA are proud to have partnered with the creators of the Lucky Iron Fish product to bring wider exposure and commercial success to this important public health innovation. We have been transparent in the Cannes Lions award entries about the contributions of all the players including Gavin Armstrong, CEO of Lucky Iron Fish, Dr. Chris Charles, Director on the Board of Lucky Iron Fish, and all of the supporting agencies. The product design and prototype were created by Lucky Iron Fish; Geometry Global helped to introduce the product to a wider audience.
With the misunderstanding that there could only be a single entrant company across all categories, we entered the Product Design category on behalf of our client and were therefore named ‘entrant company.’ Our approach was in full agreement with Lucky Iron Fish company and all partners were credited in the entry. We now understand that Product Design could have been entered directly by Lucky Iron Fish without Geometry Global and Memac Ogilvy as an 'entrant company.'
Therefore, we have agreed with the Cannes Lions that Lucky Iron Fish should be the sole recipient of the Grand Prix in Product Design, as accepted by CEO Gavin Armstrong during the ceremony in Cannes on Wednesday night. It is an honor to be partners of Lucky Iron Fish, and we are pleased that it has garnered recognition by the juries at Cannes. We look forward to being part of the continued success of this project.”