Fine Feathers Fly at the Loeries

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

The ad industry hit the headlines for the wrong reasons this week and, at times, it looked like a particularly fast moving episode of Generations.

It all started a few weeks ago, when SA’s ad people got dressed up (or dressed down, if you were really, like, cool) to celebrate the annual Loerie Awards. Ad agency Metropolitan Republic did rather well, winning the Grand Prix for mega client MTN. Their campaign, ‘Project Uganda’, was an inspired idea that gave Ugandan schoolchildren access to much needed books via virtual libraries displayed in newspaper ads. Using their mobile phones they were able to download the books via USSD technology. “Genius” pronounced the judges in several Loeries’ categories. It was one of the most popular ideas of the festival, and I sang its praises in these pages two weeks ago.

But the agency barely had time to display the trophies in their minimalist foyer when they received a call from Loerie Awards CEO Andrew Human requesting they return them. It seems the agency hadn’t actually completed the project. Nor had they run the press ads in the Ugandan newspapers. Nor had any Ugandan schoolchildren accessed much-needed books. Further speculation by geeks in the media revealed the technology behind the idea wasn’t really possible.

The Loeries issued a press release on the awards’ recall and the agency, Metropolitan Republic, issued a release accepting responsibility for the transgression. They blamed the slip, although it was more of a swan dive into an empty pool than a mere slip, on over-zealous junior staffers who failed to clear the entry with senior execs. While that seemed vaguely plausible, the agency had been entering the work into various awards shows since March, and seven months seems a long time for senior people to be blissfully unaware of what was a fairly high profile and innovative piece of work.

Cue much huffing and puffing and tweeting and sub-tweeting and, finally, an unseemly scuffle between Human and senior execs from Metropolitan Republic on a Sunday morning radio show. The row rumbles on, fuelled by speculation and much rubbernecking on the part of the rest of the industry.

The issues kicked up by this unfortunate bun fight are many, but none is more relevant than the role of gongs and trophies in the ad industry. There is a constant barrage of criticism directed at ad people about the awards culture, much of it negative. It may be the case, as with Metropolitan Republic (and this is by no means exclusive to them), that agencies will sometimes push too hard to win awards. When the tail furiously begins to wag the dog, with agencies producing work specifically to chase awards, rather than the commercial success of their clients, then the strangeness sets in – sometimes they run work that has not been approved by clients, sometimes they create elaborate television campaigns for small bookshops.

Awards shows police this fairly strictly. Media plans for the campaigns entered are often requested, some ask for letters from clients accompanying all the work entered. The Loeries have a long list of rules and regulations so, by the time the judges see the work, they are accepting on good faith that what they are judging is real. They are looking largely at the quality of the idea, not asking questions about why the Ugandan schoolchildren appear to be sitting in classrooms in South Africa, or why some of the books in the print ads appear to have little use for Ugandan primary schoolchildren : “A history of Kwaito”; “How to play the guitar”; “Elementary principles of calculus”. Or indeed, as some keen hacks discovered, why some of the books displayed did not exist at all.

All of this should not be allowed to diminish the value and real purpose of rewarding and recognising the very best work in our industry. Cannes Lions, the papa bear of ad award shows, has become increasingly important. This year 5,000 of the 12,000 delegates were clients with blue chip giants like Coke, Google and Unilever sponsoring seminars and workshops. Ultimately the winning work is what everyone is there to see and the juries try to find the pieces that push the industry forward, that explore new tricks springing forth from old dogs.

New categories like Mobile, PR, Viral Film and Branded Content and Entertainment show just how rapidly the world of communications, media and marketing is changing and the awards shows are the best places to see the work that really reflects that change. The work that wins big, the Grand Prix winners, are held up as the important torchbearers of things to come, the glorious outliers on the edge of what is possible.

It’s no coincidence that the agencies which regularly collect awards for their work are often the same ones most sought after by clients around the world. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. A study carried out by the U.K.’s Institute of Practitioners in Advertising claims to prove a direct link between creativity and effectiveness. The IPA examined 213 case studies over a period of eight years, including campaigns by Cadbury, Volkswagen, Budweiser, Honda, Audi and Orange, and calculated that creatively awarded campaigns were 11 times more effective than those without jury accolades – whether you’re a large corporation or a small independent retailer, that’s an extremely powerful multiplier.

So the Loeries should continue to be a valuable beacon of excellence for South African marketers and agencies, although Andrew Human has already hinted at more vigilant and stringent entry requirements, because creativity in advertising, as celebrated by award shows all over the world, will continue to be the single most powerful thing any business can use to transform its bottom line.

Tell the guys in procurement to put that in their briar pipes and smoke

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.

Chris

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.

Mannes in Cannes: Rosé and Rumours

Cannes Lions

Words by Monsieur Chris Gotz

Occasionally the week in Cannes offers up little unexpected moments of pleasure. A spin in a pistachio Lamborghini, a drink at the Martinez with Roger Moore, sunbathing on the deck of Paul Allen’s yacht or dinner with Brad and Angelina at Tétou, a restaurant in Antibes, where the lobster will set you back 200 Euros. None of these things happened to me, not even close.Colombe d' Or However I did go to the famous Colombe d’ Or, in the small hilltop town of Saint-Paul de Vence. The restaurant is famous not for its food, but its art collection. The walls are adorned with Miró, Picassos, a Matisse or 2 and many more. A beautiful Calder sculpture looms over the pool. It’s a bit like eating a rack of lamb in one of the courtyards of the Louvre, just without the Japanese tourists and large groups of pensioners from Wisconsin hanging around.

In the taxi on the way home one of my colleagues received a text on his phone. Someone, somewhere had heard someone else say that, possibly, they had heard a mention that one of the judges in Branded Content and Entertainment had told someone, who had told somebody else, that we might get a Lion. This was possibly, maybe, perhaps good news. Cannes is fuelled by Rosé and rumours. Many hopes have foundered on the faint fumes of hope wafting up from the judging rooms in the basement of the Palais. And so began the most anxious 15 hours of the Festival.

My colleague Nicholas Wittenberg wore a yarmulke for much of the following morning. He is not a devout man, but, like Yahoo, we needed all the help we could get. I just watched my phone, which remained as silent and insolent as a French waiter. Finally the call came, and the news that our last chance saloon finalists had both won Lions, and one of them was Gold. Cue Tiger Woods fist pumps and neck hugs and shouty calls to the people who actually did the work in Cape Town. The rest of the day passed in a blissful fug of tense elation.

The best thing about winning Gold on the last night is that you don’t have to queue to get in. You just waltz in through a side entrance like Patricia de Lille at the Baxter Theatre.The last night at Cannes is the Film, Film Craft, Branded Content and Entertainment and Integrated ceremony.

First up was Film Craft. If you watch anything from the Festival this year, watch the Craft Grand Prix – the “Superhumans” spot for the Paralympics by Channel 4, for Channel 4. It is nothing short of a masterpiece. For the first time in my 6 years of going to Cannes there was a standing ovation for a piece of work, and the film truly deserved it.

The Film Lions were up next. Lots of expected contenders in the mix there. The brilliant Southern Comfort ad “Whatever’s Comfortable” out of Wieden and Kennedy got big cheers. If you want to watch a brilliant insight based idea then look at the “Camera Shy” Dove film from Ogilvy London that won Gold. The Grand Prix went to 2 films, Sir John Hegarty making the point that the film Jury felt the need to reward both long and short form films.

Dumb Ways to Die picked up an unprecedented 4th Grand Prix, this time for Film, probably well deserved for a commercial that has been seen by 500 million online, made the charts in 10 countries and got played for free by most commercial broadcasters. It is probably the “stickiest” advertising work for many a year. Pereira & O ‘Dell San Francisco won a Grand Prix (a second one this week) for the totally brilliant film “The beauty inside” which featured Hollywood semi-star Topher Grace (who was there to pick up the award with the agency).Take a look at it, it involves the audience in a way no other content piece has ever done before.

It will be one of the great Film reels this year, so I would look at as much of the work online as I could if I were you. They’ll take it all down in a month or so.

In Branded Content and Entertainment the wonderful IBM “World’s Smallest Film” from Ogilvy New York finally picked up Gold after flirting with Silver and Bronze all week. Well deserved, considering they moved atoms around and magnified them 100 million times just so we could Cannes Goldsee the piece. Check out the “Deforested field” from Grey 141 in Sao Paulo for the WWF for a smart live programming intervention. The Grand Prix went, once again to “The beauty inside” for Intel. Somewhere amongst all of those we skipped onto stage to collect our Gold Lion. It was kind of cool to remind ourselves later that we had the rare privilege of winning a Gold Lion with Dan Wieden, Sir John Hegarty, George Lois, Lee Clow and David Droga in the audience. Hope they liked the work.

Integrated and Titanium Jury President Dan Wieden handed out the Lions in this category. He must be one of the wisest, most lovely men in all of advertising and his stories have beguiled us for decades. The Samsung “Bridge of Life” by Cheil Worldwide was the pick of the bunch. The Grand Prix for Integrated went, predictably and well deservedly, to Dumb Ways to Die, which, thumbing its nose at the notion of a history making 4th Grand Prix, went on and claimed a 5th just for good measure. I would love to be a fly on the wall in that office on Tuesday when they all get back to work. What now guys? Perhaps just do some strip ads for a boring investment services client just to get your feet back on the ground.

The Titanium Grand Prix is the Grand Finale of Cannes, and it went to, for me, the standout piece of work at the festival. No, not Dumb Ways to Die, rather the Dove “Real Beauty Sketches” from Ogilvy Brazil. In a wonderful touch, the women who were sketched in the piece were flown over to collect the Grand Prix. It brought the house down, and there was an unprecedented second standing ovation of the night. All that was left after that was for Ogilvy Brazil to collect the overall agency of the Year, probably by a country mile after winning 35 Lions.

Now, finally, on to Nice airport, a Gold Lion heavier than when we arrived, which is a most pleasing way to leave the South of France in June. It’s been a good year for “the work” I think.

You could certainly feel the velocity of the changes hitting the industry very strongly in Cannes this year. They are changes that will not be solved by the repeated use of the word” content” and “platform”, nor will they be met with the overblown promises of “big data” or the platoons of people who now call themselves “social media strategists”. We may live in the golden age of bullshit, but we also live in the golden age of opportunity. The challenges and great changes that face our industry will be overcome by the same thing that always saves our bacon : brilliant creative work.

As George Lois said, “We aren’t in the technology business we are in the fu*king creativity business”.

Well said George.

Sent from my iPad

George Lois

Mannes in Cannes: Hope & The Electric Recorder

SAATCHI&SAATCHI seminar (10)

Words by Monsieur Chris Gotz

I am the Guinness Surfer. I am waiting. Tic toc. Although there are no white horses charging through the waves above me, and I am not a good looking salty blonde surfer dude, and I am staying in a hotel near the sea, not actually in the sea, but I am still waiting. The Film, Integrated and Branded Entertainment Shortlist comes out in an hour. In Cannes this is the last chance saloon, but it is also the big game, the show, the fat lady finally getting her aria.

Yesterday began with the Young Director’s Showcase, a selection of the world’s best young directors walking down the ramp and flashing a bit of side boob for the cameras (I am aware that’s a sexist analogy please feel free to substitute side boob for the male equivalent of side boob, although that’s probably plumber’s crack, so you can see why I went with side boob). It began with Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous Godless man, reading a pompous tract about God knows what (although in this case God does not exist, of course) – apparently it was all about memes, who knew? Mr Dawkins was then replaced by a bit of 80′s and 90′s style geometric animation which looked like it had been borrowed from Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer video from 20 years ago. To this was added 3D mapping, the technology so loved by car launches and events companies desperate to hide their lack of an idea with spectacular lighting effects. SAATCHI&SAATCHI seminar Professor Dawkins(22)This ended with Richard Dawkins entering stage left and playing an electric recorder for a few minutes. It was over fairly quickly, thank God (or not in this case, depending on whether you believe in him).What followed was a lovely collection of incredible work from directors around the world. The selection is always a bit wtf and challenging to watch, but it was one of the highlights of Cannes this year.

The stand out piece for me was the Ben Liam Jones directed film for Childline, a masterpiece of gritty reality and sadness. Check out Gevorg Karensky’s live action version of Grand Theft Auto for go-pro gone bonkers. And Nabil’s new music video for Anthony and the Johnsons “Cut the world” is a masterpiece, although I wouldn’t show it to your wife if you’re going through a bad patch. Justin Anderson’s voyeuristic, slightly creepy but very sexy film for Agent Provocateur is also worth a look. There was the life story of a Leica camera, evoked with exquisite grace and power by Vellas. Comedy showed up strongly in Max Joseph’s great film for the Rainforest Alliance and also in Peter Atencio’s Tarentino homage “Pulled over”. You can see all the work on the New Director’s Showcase Youtube Channel.

David Karp, creator of Tumblr (although no longer owner of Tumblr having sold to Yahoo, who need all the help they can get from David Karp) was up on stage.Tumblr really does seem to represent an opportunity for brands to tell “native” stories in an authentic and free environment without restriction. David Karp mentioned the amazing opportunities brands have to work with tumblr a little too much, coming across a bit like an enthusiastic but very sincere encyclopaedia salesman.

lee clowThen on Friday morning we got to see the standout seminar of the whole week. Legendary ad heroes Lee Clow and George Lois chatting on stage for an hour. Their work speaks for itself, although they have no problem doing that either. It was flat out fascinating as they connected their work from the past 3 decades to what is going on in the industry now. Clow said sagely that he believed the industry was in a “great shaking out”, and no one really knows where it will end. He did say that until art directors and creative people have truly wrested partial curatorship of the web from the tech guys, and when they really start to collaborate their will be fireworks. George Lois said motherfu$&er a lot and told stories of courage and style and bloody minded stubbornness. He ended with the words, “Fight for your work. And if they don’t like it f$ck em.” Yes, quite. George once threatened to jump out of the window of Manhattan Skyscraper when a client refused to buy his layouts. Thankfully we were on the ground floor of the Palais.

The final Shortlists just hit the wires. Ogilvy Cape Town has 2, which gives us a final, slim chance at glory. South Africa has a smattering of TV Shortlists too. So, as we all descend into the Palais to watch the Film Shortlist, we carry with us, along with our free Cornettos and limited edition Cokes, a last smidgen of hope that somewhere a jury is sticking up their hands and handing us a Lion. Tic toc.

Sent from my iPad

Mannes in Cannes. Inspiration day.

Cannes

Words by Monsieur Chris Gotz

While eating duck breast with strawberries on a bed of bulgur wheat laced with raspberry jus I decided yesterday that Cannes is not kak. Yesterday was a particularly unkak day. Last night at the Outdoor, Mobile, Innovation and Media ceremony we won things, our country won things and, yes, Dumb Ways to Die won things, but you can’t have it all.

South Africa kicked some decent butt in Outdoor when a happy pride of Silver and Bronze Lions lolloped over the horizon ( it is debatable whether Lions lollop but I am going to go with it ). The totally lekker Doom “Wall of Shoes” by TBWA / Hunt / Lascaris Joburg grabbed a Silver, which is good, because a laak it. Also on the scoreboard was Ogilvy Cape Town with 2 Silvers for Volkswagen. One for the Volkswagen Genuine Parts “Puzzles” Campaign and another for the really smart (are you allowed to say that if it’s your own work?) “Don’t text and drive” work.

Also in the frame were Draft FCB Cape Town for their bleddy brilliant Engen “Fire blanket”.

Finally Y&R continue their happy week with some more metal for Landrover.

The Outdoor Grand Prix was one of my favourite pieces this year. The IBM “smart ideas for smarter cities” work by Ogilvy Paris is simple, smart and so beautifully on strat (yes, that is important to creative people) for IBM. I love the fact that it’s a fairly low-fi piece for a hi tech brand. I am also proud to say that the ECD of Ogilvy Paris is SA born Mr Christopher Garbutt.

Mobile is always interesting. South Africa should be winning in mobile. Our mobile growth and penetration is huge, it’s one of the best ways to reach people we probably couldn’t talk to any other way, and yet, nothing, fokol. Not a single South African mobile winner. Instead of being “traditionally strong” in radio, we should be traditionally strong in mobile. It is arrogant and ignorant in the extreme that our mobile creativity is non-existent, we aren’t even trying. Come on everyone, you love your bloody iPhones so much, let’s do some things ( I realize that is one of the most pathetic and nonsensical motivational speeches of all time, apologies).

Some of the best work of the Festival was on show in the mobile category last night. Ogilvy Paris had a corker where they gave away free WiFi in exchange for online Scrabble points. The Score Cleaner Notes app will write sheet music for you when you hum into your phone. And please, please have a look at the Reborn App piece by Antwerp based Duval Guillaume Modem for Organ Donation. Pure genius. The clear and growing intersection of dev, creativity and tech innovation in mobile work is becoming more and more pronounced. I am sad to say we are way, way behind in SA.

The best idea of the Festival so far was from DDB Dm9 for Smart Textbooks. They recycled old sim cards and downloaded school textbooks onto them (the textbooks were proving too expensive to print). The sim cards were then handed out at schools and kids popped them into their phones. Voila. That’s what I love so much about Cannes, the ideas that prove that our industry truly can make a huge difference if we do what we do well. Technology is magnifying the power of creative thinking more than ever before Viva la revolución.

The innovation Lions were interesting, lot’s of software and apps and deep tech ideas. There was talk that it felt like the industry was stepping outside of its territory, which I think is the point really isn’t it? The Grand Prix went to Cinder from The Barbarian Group, who created a software development platform for creative coding. Another winner was the GetIn bank credit card from MasterCard, which reveals the balance of your card as a digital readout on the card itself. Not sure if that would be good idea in South Africa.

My absolute favourite talk so far has been “How not to be a douchebag in advertising” by the perfectly wonderful people from Mother New York. I can think of a few people back home who could have done with this information. The talk was really all about finding your happy place in advertising. They proceeded to skewer the big network structures and condemn us all to advertising purgatory. They don’t have account management at Mother. Now, while it has been tempting to occasionally exterminate errant account management people, I have never thought of leaving them out of the structure altogether. What would we charge our clients for if we didn’t have a brigade of client service people on their fee ? How would we make money? We would be forced to rely solely on our creative product for our income. Gasp, horror.

Then Huffington Post power woman and ultimate leaner-inner Arianna Huffington took the stage to talk about how to stay healthy and wise in the digital age. It was fascinating and inspiring and just made supreme sense. She talked about the value of sleep, something that felt very relevant to me having been kept awake last night by an air con unit that sounded like it was powering the Death Star. She recommended nap rooms and meditation rooms in agencies (these are common now in the US, but not in agencies). And, aptly, she made the observation that creative people are at their best when they are allowed to rejuvenate regularly. This is not a startling observation, but she did point out that agencies somehow derive a weird sense of bravado about pushing mega hours. I tweeted about how impressed I was with her talk. She replied within minutes, thanking me. That is seriously impressive. I do realize that her twitter handle may very well be managed by a call centre in Bangladesh, but I am still impressed.

The opening Gala followed the ceremony last night. This is kind of like a United Nations of men with beards and spectacles and women in strappy dresses talking in 150 languages about how shit the decisions of the various juries have been throughout the week. I did hear some interesting stuff though. Client attendance is through the roof this year, 40% of Cannes delegates are marketers this year. That is astounding.

In other news Ogilvy seem to be hurtling towards network of the year. Over 80 Lions and counting now, more than in the entire week last year. Although I must say that all this ranking and tabulating and counting and comparing the various distances and velocities of our own urine might be a little (just a little) over the top. Just saying. We are here to see the work. We are here to find out how to push our industry forward. We are here to seek out new ways to sell our clients’ stuff and make money for their employees and shareholders. Most of all we are here to discover how to change and adapt to and cope with the single biggest advance in the human condition since the bloody industrial revolution. So reducing it all to a conversation about who has the biggest willy is a bit sad and, dare I say, a bit male. Perhaps Arianna Huffington was right – the first women’s revolution was asserting their right to vote. The second has been establishing their place at the top of the men’s world – in business, in politics, in the arts and communication. The third is still to come, in which women express their dissatisfaction with this world of men and change it completely to make it one of their own design.

If this is the case then my wonderful, lovely wife is way ahead, certainly in my house anyway.

Sent from my iPad