Does something smell fishy over the Cannes Lions Product Design Grand Prix winner?

Lucky Fish.jpgCB Exclusive: It wouldn't be Cannes without controversy.

Question marks are been raised over the origins of the Product Design Grand Prix at the Cannes Lion. It was won by Geometry Global Dubai for the "Lucky Iron Fish Project", but social media and Wikipedia are suggesting that Geometry Global are not the people who created this worthwhile product.

The credits on the entry list the involvement of Singapore advertising agency Arcade, and its co-founders, Gary Tranter and Matt Cullen. However, both are embarrassed by their names, and footage that they created for a Google job, being used in the Cannes awards entry.

Tranter calls "Bullshit" on the entry, which he says implies Geometry "spotted a need, came up with the Iron Fish idea and somehow designed the little fish".

This morning Tranter released this statement below:

Gary-Tranter.jpg"So many people have been asking me about this and even congratulating me for winning at Cannes I felt I had to write something. I did not win at Cannes and my agency had nothing to do with the entry.

When the guys from Geometry Dubai called me, asking if they could use our Iron Fish footage to raise awareness for the Iron Fish project, I expressed reluctance as it's not normal to release creative work to other agencies, but they assured me it was simply for PR purposes to generate donations.

I agreed. Anything to help this worthwhile project.

I have to say I was surprised to see they won the Product Design Grand Prix at Cannes.

Even more surprised to see they'd used the footage, music and exact words from my script, in their case study video. The video implies the agency Geometry spotted a need, came up with the Iron Fish idea and somehow designed the little fish.


I spent a long time in Cambodia with Chris Charles, the actual product designer of the Iron Fish (though he'd probably hate me calling him that) shooting a spot for my client Google and in the process learnt much about the amazing work they are doing out there. It's not just the Iron Fish you know; the ceramic pot water filtration system is simply brilliant and is delivering clean water to many villages.

In the whole time I was there, I saw no one from Geometry Dubai's Product Design Department, beavering away to help the people of Cambodia.

If winning is at Cannes is part of the PR awareness drive, I've got no problem at all with it, but I don't think you should claim an idea and design when it's not yours.

If you're interested, the ad I shot with Matt Cullen, Rebecca So and Chin Chin-Han Yu can be seen here. Jonathan Finnigan was the Director and the beautiful music was created by Gerard Fitzgerald at Song Zu Singapore.

Gary Tranter
Founder/ECD Arcade

There's no doubt Geometry Global are working with the client and helping them market the Iron Fish and it's global awareness, but where the controversy lies here is that Geometry appear, through their entry, to be taking credit (and thus Cannes ranking points) for creating the Iron Fish. As one ECD Campaign Brief spoke to today said, it's like TBWA Media Arts taking credit for the iPhone product design.



Joe said:

I love you crazy fokin advertising guys with you metal fish and and you award type thing there....I love that shit....but a foking hate it.

I'm shocked. You're fired. said:

A round of applause for Gary for setting the record straight, and a standing ovation for Chris Charles and the people who created this project.

As for Geometry Global, I expect a round of 'implausible deniability' to start at any time.

They're a WPP company right? So minions will be fired: deservedly in this case. But they aren't the only ones who deserve it.

The big wigs will pretend to be shocked and disappointed. But are the same a-holes who are increasingly demanding awards as a condition of further employment, but who won't do a damn thing to improve the quality of the really crappy ads that their agencies produce on a daily basis.

YESTERDAY: Win awards. I don't care how.
TODAY: I'm shocked. You're fired!

Kung Fook said:

"Iron Fish Kill King Of LIon".

Should have been made in the 1970s, and dubbed off-sync.


Wiggins said:

Agree with the 2nd comment on this page, its ridiculous. How could judges/media/agency teams, let this happen. The people at Cannes could just type the word on Google and realize this work is done by another company? Just viewed some public pages where the win is being celebrated. That is just in bad taste. Open your eyes. VivalaFISH.

Me said:

Anyone who calls this iron fish a "product design" is really stretching the definition. Sadly most category judges at Cannes this year did not understand the category they were judging in….perhaps there were no well designed products but there is more honour in awarding nothing than picking this shit.

Shocked said:

I'm sure the Jury will be just as shocked as us so let's not blame them.

They no doubt fell in love with this great idea and thought wow let's give these guys the Grand Prix as this agency has created something meaningful and worthwhile. The jury obviously wanted the creators of this product to be awarded.

The video clearly is claiming the agency created these iron fish, but they didn't, they just edited Gary Tranter's Google film into an awards entry.


Good on you Gary!! said:

"In the whole time I was there, I saw no one from Geometry Dubai's Product Design Department, beavering away to help the people of Cambodia."

Wake up! said:

Believing casestudy videos is like buying penis enlargers based on banner ads.
Just because they are called judges doesnt mean their judgement is always sound.

Astin said:
What about this one?

I don't know what's the original?

Betty sui said:

Bravo Gary.

And I do blame the jury as well as the agency.

One Google search led me to the actual designer and a timeframe going back to 2008.

Thirty seconds to check a grand prix winner. C,mon

Heads should roll said:

Geometry Global is a spin-off from the big O…lol….why am I not surprised.

The 2 executives who head it up, nick walsh and ben knight are listed here, under the Dubai column, they seem to be WPP veterans….not strangers or babies who did not understand the culture:, tact-us/

GK said:

Strip Geometry Dubai of the Grand Prix.

Award it to Chris Charles.

Someone who actually designed something for good.

This makes a mockery of the festival.

wha....??? said:

If that's true, and it appears that it is, it's not just an absolute disgrace, it's an insult to the genuine ingenuity and hard work of the people who really did do it, and it's incomparably stupid. How the f*** did they not think this would come out?

Seriously? said:

While I think it's noble of calling bullshit on taking credit for something that clearly wasn't theirs, I can't see how Arcade didn't know about it. I'm sure before the entry was submitted and paid for, the Geometry guys would have contacted Arcade to receive their blessing.

Mike said:

Certainly not jumping to their support...
But the campaign website does credit Chris Charles?

A new low said:

Add this to the agency who rebranded an existing and patented product and won the Direct Grand Prix. Makes me embarrassed to be part of the industry.

Tom said:

But isn't it the same problem with VOLVO life paint, which was actually introduced in 2013 and then repackaged with VOLVO logo for 2015?

Sergei said:

so the original idea was for Google, but the jury didn't even think to use it to check the legitimacy of the GP?
That's irony

Sun said:

To me Cannes is bull shit felt like a expensive grand cocktail party paid by the media agencies and clients to beat their own drums of how great they are .. Couple of points to add :

1.Why do so called CMO or Digital Media guys who are supposed tone advocates of their brands and as part of their jobs never tweet until only these events come up ? What are they preaching ?

2.Why do you need to rent expensive yachts to host people when it could be done with a simple affair ? Are they using money wisely ? Air tickets , Expensive hotels ...and people talk about sustainability .. Is this a good example ?

3.Have seen particularly companies from UK are a bit too much ...less stuff more talk and all the way bull shit ..go to any agency or speak to digital marketing dept of the clients...same story .. they are never doers and they talk shit .. most of them i mean barring few...

Apologies to the author gary for taking a side route but expressing my anger .. but kudos to you well pointed :-)

Any Tom Dick Harry can be a judge these days said:

Calibre. The jury line up of an awards show used to be reserved for top creative directors, for a reason. That is they have an impeccable knowledge of creativity archive they've come across, memorized in their heads. They would know what's been done. This saga is the exact problem with inviting unqualified "agency" people as judges. Some category presidents are even some CEO who clearly aren't a creative to begin with, doubt they would've seen or appreciate creative work as much as a top qualified creative leader.

Adman said:

It is like Edelman taking credit for the Dove Real Selves viral video campaign even though they just did the PR and social amplification for this project.

How many times did Ogilvy or Ogilvy related staff stumble upon an idea and try to find some way to claim credit for it? Here's an example

Using Lego to create portraits was pioneered by Italian artists:

For example, Ogilvy HK, after seeing these famous Lego portraits done by Italian artists, called them to see if they can use it to create an award submission, winning many awards at One Show:

Why should they win when Ogilvy HK has nothing to do with this idea and its craft, which was developed way beyond their email to the artists?

The idea that advertising industry has the most creative talent is a joke in today's age. Being opportunistic and unscrupulous does not make you a creative.

It only makes you a disgrace.

Gordon said:

Astin - the film you referenced on You Tube was shot last year by 17 Triggers, a Cambodia based marketing agency that worked closely with the Lucky Iron Fish project developing the branding, design collateral, campaign website and local training kits.

Like Gary, I have no idea what Geometry Global actually contributed, apart from combining his film with our film and then adding a new voice over. I'm open to the idea that Geometry have actually contributed in some meaningful way, but not to the degree that this award represents.

Truth said:

Problem is that even the so called top calibre CCOs from asia only got famous due to scam (released once in some shitty place to look genuine).

Lucky Iron Fish said:

In 2014 the Lucky Iron Fish engaged with Geometry through a commercial partnership.

The agency led a comprehensive marketing program to launch the product in Cambodia including creating the communication materials and the PR efforts to boost profile and sales. In short, Geometry Global was key to the current success of the project.

Based on our understanding of the entry mechanism at the Cannes Lions festival, we gave Geometry Global approval to be the entrant for all Lucky Iron Fish entries, with full credit to Lucky Iron Fish and other participating entities. There has been no intention to misrepresent the role of Geometry Global or the campaign in the entry or any communications. The designer of the current innovation, Gavin Armstrong, was present during the event and received each of the Lions award on stage. He also presented to the Judges for the Innovation award.

It is unfortunate that the discussions around this project have taken away from its success. I hope we can work to clear up this misunderstanding

AdJunkie said:

Lucky Iron Fish: As someone said in the comments, strip Geometry Dubai of the Grand Prix.

Award it to Chris Charles and your team. Someone who actually designed something for good.

Stop pandering to the agency and have some integrity as an ethical team.

The agency didn't design the Iron Fish. Why are they and their designers getting credit for the Product Design Grand Prix? The ALS Association won their awards for the Ice Bucket Challenge as clients; not crediting the many agencies who helped support the challenge. It was THEIR Idea. Not that of the agencies.

So Geometry can be your PR agency or activation agency; but they didn't design the work which is wining NOR are they worthy of winning the innovation Lions. Hence, give them credit as the agency for the categories where they fit and strip them of the title for the categories where they do not fit.

We hope Cannes Lions can be fair. And not support an effort to cheat and garner up Cannes ranking points by Ogilvy and Geometry.

Commentator said:

Don't know what the fuss is all about.

If the agency has done PR or marketing, give them the reward for that work.

As the agency has clearly not done the design or the innovation, as indicated by Gavin here and on Adweek, don't give them the reward for that work. Remove them.

The solution for Cannes Lions is simple and not problematic for anyone. Everyone wins. It's a fair world again. But you have to admit, the agency did use the Iron Fish guys and their partners, often times without their consent as is evident.

Lucky Iron Fish and Gary Tranter Admirer said:

@ Lucky Iron Fish

I really hope you actually are from Lucky Iron Fish and posted the comment above.

I so admire the work you are doing in Cambodia. It is an amazing product that is bringing great results to such a worthy cause.

Please don't take offence and think that our industry is criticising you. There's been a lot of misguided emotion on this. Cannes does that.

Gary Tranter is not trying to take anything away from the Lucky Iron Fish Company, a project he too greatly admires. But look at it from his point of view.

The product wins a Grand Prix for Product Design (not in Promo + Activation or Direct categories where agencies can make a meaningful contribution) and he finds himself on the credits for the "Product Design" of something that was created way before he even was aware of it.

His, unknowing contribution, was that a Google Search film he created was edited into the case study entry presentation. As he states in his letter above he agreed for the footage to be used for awareness and PR purposes to promote the cause.

Of course since the Cannes Grand Prix announcement, Gary's been getting messages of congratulations from people all over the world for his Grand Prix win. That's what we do when friends, colleagues and rivals do well.

This is because if you watch the case study in the context of an advertising awards it comes across that the advertising agency has created the product. This implies that Gary and all the other creatives listed were involved in the design of this great idea.

I think it's admirable, and shows integrity, that Gary has set the record straight and explained his accidental involvement. I know many CDs that would have said nothing and in 3 or 4 years time be tempted to add to their CV that they'd won a Grand Prix at Cannes.

The point is that the credits in each category should reflect the creative contribution made. In this case PRODUCT DESIGN should credit Dr Chris Charles and anyone else involved with the PRODUCT DESIGN. It should not credit those that created the Cannes case study entry!

It's a technical point, but that means a lot to us in our small unimportant industry (compared to what you are doing).

Why? In the future there will be people hunting for jobs saying that they won a Grand Prix at Cannes. More immediately, and sadly, it's all about the Cannes Agency and Network Ranking points, and in this case Cannes will credit your agency and the network it belongs to for the product design and creation of your amazing little fish. Which as you know is not true.

The Lucky Iron Fish is a brilliant product that is making a real difference in improving the health of communities in Cambodia and I'm sure Geometry have some great cyber, direct, activation and other marketing plans to take you forward. These are the campaigns Geometry should be taking full credit on and I will applaud loudly when they win at Cannes.

@luckyironfish said:

Congrats on closing ranks with your agency and executing a flawless rebuttal...exactly what i would have done. I am sure mr tranter's little PR move is now looking a bit hasty petty and ill advised.

Having said that, you should consider yourself lucky for winning the product design grand prix because while your fish is a very nice innovation that improves lives, it is butt ugly compared to the ideals product design strives to uphold. I think you deserve to win a grand prix for social good but not product design.

Not your fault though.....We really needed the likes of johnny ives or marc newson on this panel...the present jury have completely bastardised the genre.

Hello!MeAgain! said:

I tried posting earlier but I guess it didn't work. Lucky Iron Fish CEO and Geometry released statements about their involvement in the PR and prototyping of the fish, both can be read here:

Geometry statement and timeline added here

Gavin Armstrong CEO of Lucky Iron Fish where Chris Charles is on the board of directors, holding his Grand Prix

Both statements jive with what Lucky Iron Fish posted above.

For the record said:

To understand what happened here your readers should know that both mr tranter and mr cullen are fairly high profile ex employees of ogilvy in singapore who left sometime ago....If you connect the dots its not unusual to expect that they would not miss any opprtunity to score some points at the expense of their ex employer.

Benoit Greenfield said:

Still doesn't change the fact that the two advertising teams credited didn't do the design nor the creation of this project. As one of the guys up above have said, credit where credit is due. To the creators for their work. And to the agency for the marketing. The twain should be divided by Lucky Iron Fish to make this uproar die down.

Right now it comes across as the agency has created everything, if you watch their case study and the credits too, which is probably why everyone on here seems so p***ed off. They did squat and deserve squat for the design and invention of this idea.

Ad Vigilante said:

Guess Cannes still has an iota of credibility.

An update is below with a statement from the 2 agencies.

Well-played by them, finding a loophole in the "entrant company" bit :) Sneaky but smart PR!

Now, as an ethical agency, we'd love them to GET THEIR AGENCIES' NAMES off the project in Innovation, Health and any other creation categories where they are seen and are proclaimed to be the agency behind the idea.

If need be, let them put themselves as 'media' or 'PR' agency.

Let Iron Fish own it like the ALS Association did for the brilliant Ice Bucket Challenge.

Let the 2 agencies - Geometry Dubai and Ogilvy - take their due credit for PR or any other marketing/promotion related category, as the agencies behind it.


"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."

Credit cads said:

Hopefully this will put an end to the insane cinema long credits list of names to one awarded idea.
Editing the case study video doesn't make you an award winning editor.
Writing the case study doesn't make you an award winning planner or copywriter if you didn't create the original idea.
Scoring the case study video isn't the same as scoring the tvc.
Similarly awards for editing, music, lighting doesn't make writers and art directors award winning creators if their work had no idea to begin with.
And while we are at it, WTF has Regional and Global CCOs and ECDs put their names of work which they weren't part of or done before they even joined, just because they approved the work to be entered.
We get no respect because we do not treat each other with integrity.
It's no longer about the work but the BS of people who have a remote attachment to it.

Just because a catering company provided the food and drinks to the set of Titanic doesn't make it an award winning production house.

Of course Terry won't want this to happen as selling cannes trophies and certs to every 'winner' is a license to print money. That's the other money making side to the awards scam.

Ad Vigilante said:

So right "Credit cads". You are 100% accurate abut this. Unfortunately, upon asking some further questions about the other categories, Geometry Global seems to have blocked our access to commenting or interacting with their Facebook page, and to me that just shows that someone is hiding/unable to defend or answer valid questions about their involvement. Blocking someone shows guilt and that is very unfortunate and very expected of a non-digital market and an agency from that market.

15 minutes of hoopla said:

On a lighter vein this could be the last time we see the words Arcade and Cannes Lions mentioned together in the same breath.

As someone said, history was made by this incident also. For the first time both WPP and Publicis actually shared a grand prix….although for a very short time. Maybe Maurice and Martin will bury the hatchet now….in each other's backs.

Shame said:

Still doesnt change the fact that they put their names on something they didn't do, and tried to claim credit for it.

Dubai Stynx said:

All this to-ing and fro-ing.
Who's idea was it?
The End.

An Opinion said:

Product Design?

That thing looks like a fucking paperweight!

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