A look at the 2013 Loerie Awards

Article originally found in the Sunday Times – Words by Chris Gotz

Chris_Gotz2A newspaper ad that turned into a library; a calendar that became a fire retardant blanket and a tweeting badger – these were just some of the winning ideas on show at the 35th Annual Loerie Awards, staged last weekend.

Over 5000 marketing and advertising people, in various interesting interpretations of black tie and formal dress, converged on the Cape Town International Convention Centre for South Africa’s premier creative awards show.

The Loeries have grown up considerably over the years. The glorified Vegas-style debauchery of yesteryear, while not completely absent, has been replaced by a very slick series of events celebrating a far greater range of disciplines than mainstream advertising and now stretching right across the continent. Beyond the awards ceremonies, the Festival of Creativity has gathered real momentum with seminars, an Expo, student showcases and some other, more spontaneous events, usually inspired by caramel vodka and herbal infusions.

When it came to the two nights of awards, the seismic shifts brought on by the digital revolution and a rapidly changing consumer and media environment were well in evidence, but it remains clear to everyone that, in spite of the contemporary complexity, a single good idea executed well still can transform a sales curve in an instant.

On the first evening, devoted mostly to print and digital, the “Everywhere Library” for MTN by Metropolitan Republic was awarded a Gold Loerie. The full page prints ads were a clever intersection of old and new, as a newspaper ad in Uganda promoted access to books on mobile phones via USSD technology. The big prize of the night, the Grand Prix for Outdoor, came from Draftfcb in Cape Town for Engen with a, literally, life-saving idea: a calendar printed on a fire retardant blanket which shack dwellers, the biggest users of Engen’s paraffin products, could usefully hang up for an emergency.

In the digital category, where South Africa has for some years lumbered along behind the rest of the world, there was some really strong work. A tweeting badger won Loeries for Draftfcb and their client, the Johannesburg Zoo. It was a really smart, fun idea: the animal’s enclosure (we can’t call it a cage anymore) was rigged to fire off tweets as the badger moved around. Volkswagen’s Street Quest work from Ogilvy Cape Town was also a big winner and it picked up the other Grand Prix on the night, in the digital category. This online game encouraged players to find and pin VW’s inside Google Streetview – a digital treasure hunt that rewarded players with a chance to play the game live on the streets of Cape Town for mega prizes. International Judge Debbie Vandeven described it as an “iconic” piece of work.

The Sunday night awards were all about TV and Radio. The evening was hosted by John Vlismas and Dineo Moeketsi, who moved things along at a fair clip. Vlismas in particular read the notoriously tough crowd pretty well and hurled a torrent of mildly abusive banter in their direction. It was well received, apart from an especially below-the-belt Reeva Steenkamp joke which drew one of the biggest collective gasps of the year.

Radio continues to be South Africa’s strongest medium creatively. International Judge Geoffrey Hantson underlined this when he said it was the best radio work he had ever heard, making special mention of our writing and production skills. That’s good news because radio remains one of the most cost-effective ways to reach millions of people in SA. Independent agency FoxP2 collected the Grand Prix for their long-running campaign for life insurer Frank.net – it’s difficult to write fun, sassy ads about death, but they managed it. Mercedes-Benz also collected Gold Loeries for their radio work, once again reminding everyone why their agency, Network BBDO, is considered the best in the world in the medium (which is pretty extraordinary if you think about it.)

Television is still where marketers are placing nearly 60% of their bets. It probably wasn’t a vintage year for South African television advertising, a continuing trend of recent times caused by a combination of dwindling budgets, global brand dictates and lacklustre ideas – but the signs were there, in amongst a series of funny, well-written winners, that we’re finding our groove again.

The Ster Kinekor “Intersection” from FoxP2 (who had a very good night all in all) won gold for taking viewers on a thrilling ride as four out-of-control trucks hurtled towards a crossroads, only to stop before the thrilling climax with a message to watch the finale on the big screen to get the full effect.

The other Gold winners were enfant terrible musicians Die Antwoord for their video “Fatty Boom Boom” which features the mauling of a Lady Gagga lookalike by a rogue urban lion, among other curiosities. It’s quite brilliant, although somewhat disturbing. 

The final Grand Prix of the weekend went to Metropolitan Republic for their “Everywhere Library” (mentioned earlier) piece for MTN in Uganda. It picked up on a trend that is rippling through the ad world globally at the moment – investing heavily in ideas that do something for the common good as well as the bottom line. While this outbreak of goodwill might largely be attributed to a smart business strategy, it’s still a good thing for our industry and society in general.

At the end of it all, the winners gulped down their tequila and those that didn’t win, well, they gulped down tequila too, while the industry cool kids bobbed their painstakingly crafted hair frantically to international DJ’s.

LoerieThe industry big hitters, clients and agency bosses alike, probably concluded that the 2013 Loeries reflected a good year for the South African creative industry. Not a great year, but a good one nonetheless. While that may please some, the oft repeated maxim of many Creative Directors in the business bears repeating: good is the enemy of great. Better luck next year everyone.

Chris Gotz is Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town, Chairperson of the Creative Circle and a member of the Loeries Committee.

Judgement day. A few alternative Loeries predictions.


Our very own Chris Gotz (@MrChristiffa ) makes some astute predictions for this years Loerie Awards.

Judges, referees and people who are supposed to decide things have done a fairly shoddy job recently.

First there was the Napoleonic halfwit referee who sent off Bismarck Du Plessis in the big game at Eden Park. Then, the very next day, we had the judge in the Alvarez – Mayweather fight that scored it even, despite Floyd “Money” Mayweather giving the Mexican a 12-round lesson in snotklap.

The expensively assembled Loeries judges better have their shit together this week, so as not to follow suit. I must admit it’s not looking good. One of the Jury Chairs is a Belgian, which is a bit too close to French for my liking. Then there’s an Aussie in the mix. Last year the Australian judge went drinking at a dodgy pub halfway through judging. Whether that was prompted by the quality of the work I do not know. Better lock up the liquor, Mr Human, and bolt the doors. Of course there will be a handsome, all-knowing, witty, acerbic and, as far as possible, sober contingent of local judges present. So we can only hope.

It has become fairly customary to gather some industry folk together on the eve of the Loeries and get them to do a few predictions. Well, that’s happening elsewhere on the lame side of the interweb. Right now, I am going to take a few flyers and make some predictions of my own. Of course I’m a judge too, so I am about as compromised as a good idea in a Milward Brown focus group. Nevertheless, here goes.

1. The weather will be as unpredictable as an Aussie Loeries judge after the pubs open. It’s been raining at a 65 degree angle for about 3 weeks in Cape Town, even the fish are pissed off. Bring your trunks, but leave the suntan lotion at home.

hashtags-052. A few people, probably junior copywriters, will attempt to go directly from the Velocity Party to the Saturday awards ceremony. This is imprudent to say the least. They will be easy to spot; red eyed, wearing trunks and smelling strongly of caramel vodka and Steers Chips (which they would have eaten on the way to the ceremony in a vain attempt to “sober up”).

3. Your ECD will stay in a better hotel than you. This will be thinly disguised as an unpleasantness and remarks like “I have to stay with the clients” will be made as they lie back in their Olympic sized tubs draining their minibars.

4. A jumped up blogger pretending to be a journalist will fail to get an invitation to a cocktail party. He will proceed to squawk loudly about press freedom. Having made such a huge fuss about not being invited, he will spend the better part of the next year writing about how awards “aren’t important”.

5. The women will dress up and the men, largely, will dress down. Thus the strange and wondrous sight of beautifully turned out, attractive ladies in little black dresses accompanied by men wearing G-Star denim who look like they have just got out of bed.

Shimmy6. The after party at the Shimmy Beach Club will be brilliant. This will be a change from last year where 5000 people wandered around the vast venue asking each other where the “actual” party was. No-one found it.

7. There will be the traditional “march of the monologues” in the Radio Category. Jenny Glover and Brent Singers will win. The people that tried to pretend to be Jenny Glover and Brent Singers will not.

8. The words “fuck, Cape Town is expensive” will be said about 15027 times.

9. The Outsurance ad, the one where thousands of people go running through the city with banners celebrating their refunds and lower premiums, will not win.

10. A few Loerie winners, emboldened by hip flasks of Jameson’s, will attempt to grab the mike and make short acceptance speeches. They will suffer the indignity of getting halfway through a garbled message of thanks to their buddy Vernon – who actually did the ad but is now in Dubai – while being pulled sideways by security people.

11. Reiner Behrens will wear a bowtie. Pepe Marais will wear a waistcoat. Rob McLennan will wear black. A few senior clients and Graham Warsop will actually observe the dress code and wear black tie. People will regard this as “weird”. Keith Rose won’t be there but will win anyway.

12. People from Joburg will remark how “well run” Cape Town is. They may also mention how much “safer” they feel. This is despite the fact that the city is full of firearm-bearing tik-smoking gangsters driving Honda Civics powered by Cessna engines. Cape Town beyond the Mountain is basically one long Die Antwoord video.

13. If you win on the night you will be subject to a frenzy of side-hugging, high-fiving, fist-bumping. After that you will be about as popular as a diary entry marked “Research feedback session”.

14. The CEO of an agency that doesn’t win anything will make a statement about how awards aren’t important to them (despite the extended celebrations when they won previously).

15. An Afrikaans student designer with a slightly weird name like Nicodemus Le Roux will win a Student Gold for a calendar which will be the singularly most beautiful thing any of us see all weekend.

16. All of us will go home happy, inspired and determined to do better next year. When we get back to our respective studios we will be confronted by the 4th revert on the “Christmas Radio” Job Bag (which will request a “stronger call to action”). This will not depress us, because we get to do what we do, which is make lovely films and compose music and write stories and tell jokes and work with clever, funny people and laugh at goat videos. And that, we should all agree, is probably the best way you could possibly ever make a living.

The Changing World of Advertising

ST_logoWritten by our very own Chris Gotz for the Sunday Times

Over the past three years a South African marketing campaign has managed to change the rules of football.

The Carling Black Label Cup lets Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates fans pick the teams for the special Soweto Derby via their mobile phones, and to nominate subs on match day. This world-first, with over 50 million votes in just three seasons, has become the most popular and, more importantly, the most engaged-with consumer campaign in South African marketing.

Changing the rules and creating engagement are now the Holy Grails for ad agencies. In a marketplace beset by ever increasing competition for eyeballs, and with zetabytes of “content” being uploaded from anywhere and then watched and forgotten as fast as it gets out there, innovation is really the only rule. Graham Warsop, founder of the Jupiter Drawing Room, one of South Africa’s great advertising success stories, talks about how ad agencies need to become “business innovation agencies”.

In fact, ad agencies, the good ones at least, don’t even really like being called ad agencies anymore. “Business creativity”, as pompous as it may sound, is probably a more accurate description of what we do, or what we should be trying to do.

The Cannes Festival of Creativity changed its name from the Cannes Festival of Advertising a few years back to reflect this new world, and that global event really has changed – it now includes PR, design, a multitude of digital categories, promotions, and a Titanium Category for the innovation and integration so revered currently by clients around the world.

Locally, the Loerie Awards has followed suit, and is now known as the Loeries Festival of Creativity, with the 2013 winners being announced at the usual orgiastic occasion in Cape Town next weekend.

While it’s tempting for the sceptics to have a field day with these semantic nuances, the work for clients is really starting to shift into line with this. The big winner at Cannes this year was “Dumb Ways to Die”, a campaign to promote rail safety for Metro Trains in Melbourne which was a complete chameleon: a song, a short film, a television commercial, a viral video, a radio ad, a music video, a PR masterpiece. It’s well worth checking out on YouTube.

Increasingly this is the kind of work clients will be asking their agencies for, solutions that transcend the creaky “old” media and involve all the new digital and social platforms.

So are we any good locally at playing this new global game?

There’s no doubt the South African industry is switched on to the new environment – we are undoubtedly in the game but maybe not yet right on top of our game.

The Carling Cup Campaign did win 5 Cannes Lions for Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town and was named by Contagious Magazine, which tracks innovation in the global industry, as one of the 6 most influential campaigns worldwide, but there are reasons to be concerned.

South Africa hasn’t had a Cannes digital Lion for 5 years. We can bleat all we want about poor bandwidth, iniquitous connectivity costs and bumbling ministers of communications (although the new one seems good), but if we’re honest with ourselves, we aren’t really quite “getting it” yet. If South African agencies truly want to compete with the rest of the world, we need to regularly create great, engaging, integrated and digital campaigns which respond to the new media landscape and to a new kind of consumer who consumes in a new kind of way.

The traditional channels are still very relevant and need to be used in the mix but they don’t always work the way they used to – newspapers are fighting for relevance; television audiences are fragmenting; cinemas are emptying out.

nokia-asha-300_-522-1Everyone knows that in South Africa (and the continent as a whole) mobile is massive and has developed in extraordinarily distinctive ways. Especially in reaching the mass market, we cannot simply adapt developed world, smartphone models – we have to think about feature phones and an ultra low-cost, SIM-switching, Please Call Me mind-set.

In every context including ours, social platforms are exploding and devouring people’s time and attention. Rene Rechtmann, CEO of global trend watchers BeOn, recently remarked that we are living in probably the most accelerated and profound period of change in human existence.

Some agencies will adapt to this oncoming freight train and thrive, a lot more probably won’t. It’s a bit of a quickening, a “settling out period” for the industry as new hotshops, the mega agency networks and the digital specialists all compete for the same space. It’s been described as a knife fight in a phone booth.

logoIf you want to find out who’s going to come out on top in this brawl, keep an eye on those Loerie Awards this weekend. The big industry show has come a long way since the backslappy days of Sun City in the 1990’s. The Festival now celebrates everything from architecture to package design to web banners and the winning work will include short films, music videos, web banners, live events, robots and interactive kiosks. The most prized award is no longer the TV Grand Prix but rather the Integrated Category, which rewards the brilliant uses of lots of different media to get a single, pervasive idea out there.

Attendance has grown year on year and now tops the 8,000 mark as clients and marketers brave the dodgy Cape weather and the cheap tequila to root for their own work, hang out with their agency, look for a new agency or just check out new trends.

No doubt the big winners will be the agencies and clients that took the big chances, that decided to break the rules or, at least, to fiddle with them a little bit.

Chances are they’ll also be the ones who might still be standing in a few years’ time, although, after a knife fight in a phone booth, even the winners are guaranteed to hurt a little bit for a while.

Chris Gotz is Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town, Chairperson of the Creative Circle and a member of the Loeries Committee.

Mitchum: Drymageddon

Fun new game from Geometry Global, put together by our OgilvyOne digital team. Go to www.drymageddon.com. Want to have a quick read first? look below.
Mitchum is an antiperspirant that only does dry. So we launched an attack on everything wet. Introducing Drymageddon: an online game that lets users wage war on South African pools. Using Google Maps, users can bomb real life pools and leave smoking craters behind for other users to see. The more they bomb, the better their aircrafts and arsenal. Users are directed to the game through online advertising, a TV ad, in store posters and on-pack promotional stickers. The incentive – a 6-star trip to the driest place on earth, the Tierra Atacama Luxury Hotel and Spa; a safari weekend away; and R40 000 of cold dry cash. For creds look under the pictures below.

Agency: Geometry Global
Executive Creative Director: Chris Gotz
Creative Director: Nicholas Wittenberg
Art Director: Martine Hazell & Justin Enderstein
Copywriter: Alex Holmes & Cuanan Cronwright
Motion Designer:  Andrew Pullen
Head of Development: Umar Jakoet
Developer:  Ross Symons & Darius de Witt
Digital Producer:  Yolanda Snyman
Managing Partner: Adrian Varkel