The WWF Ad Controversy + Fallout


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This story’s been moving fast and it’s being covered well in other places, so we’ll direct you to those other places to catch up on the drama.

This very offensive ad for WWF popped up a few days ago on ad sites. The headline says, “The tsunami killed 100 times more people than 9/11 Respect it. Preserve it.” The ad was created by DDB Brazil and won a Merit Award at the OneShow this year. BOOOOOOO!

Turns out the ad was presented to the client but never actually ran and WWF is pissed and condemning the ad and that it was surfaced. BOOOOOOOO!

The media backlashes against the agency and The One Club across the board (just Google it) – including Keith Olbermann making the staff of DDB Brazil his worst people in the world. YEAAAAH!

DDB Brazil apologized for the ad, and a rep there tells the New York Daily News that the creative team behind it is no longer with the agency. WHAAAAAA?

A TV version of the concept surfaces. A DDB Brazil spokesperson in Sao Paulo says the ad was not done or authorized by the agency or the client. She said DDB execs first saw the video, which features slightly different copy, on the internet and don’t know who created it. BULLLSHIT!

Although earlier saying the print ad never ran, Sergio Valente, president of DDB Brasil, said the ad was presented to the WWF in Brazil in December 2008 and approved; it then ran once in a small local paper. WOAAAAAHDADDDDY!

The Dog & Pony Show offers some interesting perspective on ways to stop fake ads from happening forever. GOOOOOD!


  1. Paul Suggett

    Paul Suggett September 2, 2009

    Hang on a minute. Why the

    Hang on a minute. Why the creative team? Most creatives will try and push controversial ideas. Shouldn’t the CD and the account manager take the brunt of that?

  2. The Denver Egotist September 2, 2009

    Doesn’t add up, Paul. Plus,

    Doesn’t add up, Paul. Plus, they’re being canned for their ideas? While it is an offensive idea, this business hinges on coming up with things that push boundaries. So now we have to worry that we might get fired for an idea that offends? Shit don’t add up.

  3. Paul Suggett

    Paul Suggett September 2, 2009

    That should be a new weekly

    That should be a new weekly feature. SHIT THAT DON’T ADD UP.

  4. Howard September 2, 2009

    Yeah, they should be canned

    Yeah, they should be canned for their ideas. Happens every day. It’s called working in advertising where you are employed in large part for “ideas”. When your ideas suck badly enough and long enough, you get canned. By your creative director or your client or your customer. (And it’s certainly a better way to go than being canned for stupid political reasons.)

    This is an example of an idea that is so awful it’s certainly grounds for dismissal.

    Mind you, the CD and account folks should also be canned in this case.

    The One Club judges should also be called out. They let this dreck into an award show for, uh, what reason?

    Because they suck.

    (Is there any question that we really should stop supporting award shows?)

  5. nick September 2, 2009

    wait am I on

    wait am I on

  6. Don Cudney September 2, 2009

    Bad taste, YES …. but I AM

    Bad taste, YES …. but I AM NOT offended. Guess I am one of the last thick-skinned Americans. In fact, I like the ad. Funny that REAL LIFE offends so many! It’s not like DDB is accusing our government of master minding 911, right?

  7. Grant September 2, 2009

    “This is an example of an

    “This is an example of an idea that is so awful it’s certainly grounds for dismissal.” – This is an example of intellectual fascism.

  8. Brian W. September 2, 2009

    we don’t know the whole

    we don’t know the whole story. they might have entered the idea on behalf of the agency without consent.

    that being said, i think it’s important for agencies to create a culture where creatives feel that they can fail.

    that ad is a very powerful idea, bringing the pain caused by natural disasters into very vivid and real context.

    it certainly brings to mind the famous DM9DDB hitler ad

  9. Howard September 3, 2009

    Gee whiz, we should protect

    Gee whiz, we should protect people who have terrible ideas. Yeah. That’s a great, uh, idea.

    You should look up fascism, by the way. Nothing said here comes close to “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.”

  10. Amanda September 4, 2009

    I did not think it´s

    I did not think it´s offensive, it doesn´t discredit the 9/11,that I have very respect of.
    Just compare it with another tragedy and makes us humans be careful with the effects of nature that we ourselves have caused.
    In the movie 2012 for example, they can destroy the Christ to show that the world will end ….
    The other film Tourists, they destroy the image of Brazil. No one was raging and creating controversy with that.
    The power of the commercial was well done, and it´s not false, no disrespect NOTHING and no event.
    The big difference is that in Brazil, I do not think a reporter would say the same phrase: “What the (Someone) through the streets to die of hunger because of global crisis that ourselves have created”
    that’s the difference!

    PEACE! and take care of de environment

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