Ogilvy & Mather Vietnam Returns a Pair of Lions

By Erik Oster 

Ogilvy & Mather Vietnam returned the Silver Lion in the Direct category and Bronze Lion in the PR category the agency won at the 2016 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity last month for its “Saving Africa’s last wild rhinos, by poisoning them” work for the Rhino Rescue Project, Campaign reports.

The Ogilvy office returned both Lions of its own accord after finding that some campaign elements “did not run in-market as stated in our submission video,” according to a statement from the agency:

We determined that some elements of the campaign material created to support the NGO’s efforts to reduce Vietnamese consumer demand for rhino horns did not run in-market as stated in our submission video (see above) to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Ogilvy & Mather sends our sincerest apologies to both our client and the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. We are deeply regretful of any embarrassment this error in judgement has caused. While our agency has a long history of pro bono work for various causes including rhino horn protection, we do not condone any work done in opposition of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity regulations and guidelines. Our client on this particular campaign, along with many other conservation groups, are doing important work on an ongoing basis to combat the continued problem of rhino poaching. We deeply believe in this cause and Ogilvy Vietnam has pledged to continue to work on a pro bono basis helping any and all NGO’s who share in that belief.  Towards that goal, the agency will be hosting a roundtable on the topic, to which it will invite interested NGO’s and other stakeholders to discuss the ongoing problem of rhino horn consumption in Vietnam.


Of course, Ogilvy & Mather Vietnam is not the only shop to return its Lions following questions about a submission not running in-market as presented. Grey Singapore returned the Cannes Lion it won for the “I SEA” app following backlash after the app was removed from Apple’s app store for not working as intended.

To Ogilvy & Mather’s credit, the agency seems to have made the decision to return the dubious awards without any prompting by way of outside controversy or pesky journalists.

Here’s the case study video.