No, it’s not over yet. The advertising agency that was found to have serious problems with one of its winning entries for the Loerie Awards has been hit with another penalty: suspension from South Africa’s Association of Communications and Advertising (ACA).
MetropolitanRepublic was stripped of its seven awards by the Loeries this year after withdrawing its ‘Project Uganda’ entry, when it was discovered that the campaign to help children read textbooks on their mobile phones did not meet the judging criteria, because it had never actually ran. After conducting its own investigations into the situation involving one of its members, the ACA (the official representative body of South Africa’s communications industry) board voted unanimously to impose a range of penalties on MetropolitanRepublic. They include:
- Immediate suspension of the agency’s ACA membership for 12 months.
- The resignation of the agency’s representatives from the ACA board and its various operations committees.
- Fining MetropolitanRepublic the maximum fine allowable in terms of the ACA’s Articles of Association.
- Issuing a written reprimand to MetropolitanRepublic, regarding the agency’s transgression of the ACA Code of Conduct.
- Requiring the agency to provide the ACA with a formal undertaking regarding the agency’s future conduct and support of the ACA’s Code of Conduct.
This comes after the Loeries found that MetropolitanRepublic had contravened its criteria that stipulates the work entered for the awards needed to have been “commercially published, launched or aired to a substantial audience for the first time between 1 June 2012 and 31 May 2013.” The Project Uganda entry, which was awarded a Grand Prix for Media Innovation and a gold for Tactical use of Newspaper Advertising, was also found to go against the regulations and spirit of the Ubuntu category (where it won gold) which requires that “entries reflect an active and ongoing campaign in this period, and that entries demonstrate a positive social or environmental impact”.
In a statement, the ACA said that MetropolitanRepublic CEO Alison Deeb had “formally apologised to the Association and admitted culpability for failing to protect and uphold the ACA Code of Conduct, after calling into question the integrity and ethics of the ACA and its member agencies.”
The agency can appeal the sanctions, and its position as a member can be reinstated after a review of its actions during its year-long suspension.