Welcome to the bizarre world of ‘Fake Fakes’ and ‘Real Fakes’

Ramsey Naja is chief creative officer at JWT MEA

“Call me naïve, but it is only recently that I discovered that there were two classes of fakes in the world of luxury brands: Fake Fakes and Real Fakes. Now this could be disconcerting, syntax-wise, but it goes like this: Fake Fakes are proper bona fide rubbish goods that manage to misspell the very brand names they try to emulate or, at best, accelerate their expiry date so much you’d think you’re travelling in time. Real Fakes, on the other hand, are not really fakes, in that they are real, but not supposed to exist. They are factory excesses that were never accounted for, except perhaps in Fake Market, Nanjing Road, Shanghai. Or in Cannes, France.

For many years, Cannes has been advertising’s front window, display showcase and fakes’ market all rolled into one brilliantly packaged catwalk. It still is, but the wind of change is perceptible. Gone are the days of Fake Fake ads. Instead, a new reality has dawned, driven by shrunken budgets and a feeling of austerity that has turned everyone into part time nuns.

Indeed, today, Real is the new proactive – be it Real Real or Real Fake (yes, I know, it’s hard to keep up). Real is now sexy because it represents the rebelliousness that was once associated with proactive work and which made the most obscure ad look like eye candy. Why? Because now that even Boring, Kneejerk, Hard and Sell Associates have cracked the code for getting proactive ads shortlisted in Cannes, the goalposts have shifted,
but also the crowd appreciation. Getting a real, potentially award-winning campaign past a tough client, in a Gargantuan recession, and making it in Cannes, is an achievement worthy of a small mention by Kofi Annan. Of course, there will always be people who feel that there are shortcuts to fame, regardless of the price to pay, but, as one famous Cannes winner put it, nothing great comes easy. But don’t ask me how real that one was.”

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