On Thursday night, the 2017 IAB Bookmarks Awards Show was held in Jozi, and excitement was so pulpable that you could almost lick some off of Tseliso Rangaka’s head.
We are proud to say that we were recognised as Best Digital Agency of the year, and one of our major long-standing clients, KFC, was named Brand of the Year. In total, the agency network won 25, including two golds, at the 9th edition of the country’s premier digital marketing event.
I come up for air/ the jury is pissed/ there’s a favourite
We’re nearly halfway through this year’s Cannes Lions festival and it’s time to come up for air. A lot has happened since the last time, most of which I have sworn to never, ever talk about.
What I can tell you though is that the city and weather are trying to outdo each other in the fairness stakes and it’s beautiful to watch. I kind of expected this, having been here once before. What’s quite a surprise has been the sheer number of Stan Smith’s, spectacles and beards the festival has managed to attract this year. Close to fifteen thousand people sporting one or other combination of the three. So far very few have been able to look back at a packed Palais des Festivals auditorium and raise a lion above their heads.
The various jury panels are mostly to blame for this. You see, while the rest of us soak up equal measures of inspiration and Rose wine, they are working really hard in sterile looking rooms and sometimes have to debate ideas until the wee hours. That makes them pretty pissed off most of the time. So nothing but the very, very best according to these guys makes it past the shortlist stage.
To make matters worse, every jury and presiding chairman set the tone for their category and decides beforehand what type of work they will be looking to award. Being “tough on charity this year” for the Direct panel. Or “awarding work that really engages consumers over work that only breaks the Internet” for the PR jury really influenced their votes in these categories. Which I imagine sucks for some but is part of the high stakes game.
Looking at the pattern of work that has been awarded so far, I would say simplicity of idea plus immaculate execution is the active ingredient this year. Craft really does get rewarded here, more so than at any other award shows. Some of the Print and Publishing work looks like it has been worked on for months and months.
I really like the Getty Images and Forbes work, very simple, well executed.
South Africa dominated the Radio category yet again and storytelling was the real winner. It was great to see Ogilvy Johannesburg haul them in one after the other. A Cannes Grand Prix is quite something up close. Even little children where crying in its direction when we had it next to our dinner table afterwards.
Ogilvy Cape Town, together with longstanding client Volkswagen SA, has created a commercial that tells a truly South African story in an authentic way.
The five day long shoot captures the story of two unconnected families continuously crossing paths in their road trip from Johannesburg to Buffelsbaai, and finding their mutual connection along the way.
The commercial went live today. Check it out here:
Case studies came after sliced bread/ I swipe left/ WTF is a Digital Prophet?
On the 735th day, just after some other chap invented sliced bread, David Droga said, “Let there be case studies” and advertising award shows have never been the same since. Later on, in 2006, he helped Marc Ecko tag Air Force One in a grainy internet video that completely shattered my view of what constituted advertising. Enough about David Droga for now. Let’s talk about me. It’s been ten years since that enlightenment and four days before I get on a plane to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. You see, I’m escorting a few case studies of our own, to be held up and judged in the frequently harsh light of international creativity standards.
It will only be my second trip to Cannes, the first having been five years ago. A quick read through the official site tells me a lot has changed since then. For starters the festival’s dictionary of buzzwords has grown fatter to include phrases like Big Data, Content, immersive and VR. I also notice that CD and ECD are no longer at the top of the acronym food chain. These have been discarded for the more important sounding CMO, CCO and CEO variants. Someone has shifted the goalposts. I have title envy.
As part of my preparation, which has so far included sorting out Visas and evicting a flu virus from my body, I also decide to get with the times and download the official Cannes Lions app. On the setup screen, I keep swiping left to get to the following page while the “next” button at the bottom just waits patiently for me to get it together. I think it knows I’m from Africa. My login attempt also gets rejected. So I choose the face-saving “not now” option and get through to the home screen. “Welcome to Inspiration” it declares. I’m in.
There are three tabs to choose from on the welcome page. Who’s speaking. What’s on when. Choose a cause. I’m intrigued, so I click on the third. The cause is fighting for gender equality by helping to shatter the deep-rooted stereotypes that exist in marketing. It’s is a worthy one and one of many that the festival has thrown its might behind over the years.
Next I click on the “Who’s speaking” tab and find myself scrolling down pages and pages of what could be the ultimate dinner conversation bucket list. I swipe past a Sci-fi author, a clinical psychology professor and a “Digital Prophet” in under three seconds. There’s an astronaut, a professional wrestler, Usher and The Fresh Prince of Belair himself. I also count Oliver Stone, Gilles Peterson and Gwyneth Paltrow among the list of celebrities taking to the stage this year. I make a mental note to avoid all talks by advertising people. Except for Nunu Ntshingila, my ex-boss, now Director of Africa at Facebook. And of course David Droga.
My last stop on the Cannes Lions app home screen is the “What’s On When” tab. This is where I get to plan my inspiration regiment for the next two weeks. Judging by the sheer amount of stuff happening, an overdose is not unlikely.
Ambiguous metaphors aside this year’s festival promises to buzz with creative energy. From inside the Palais des Festivals, where the judging and awarding of work will happen, to all the tech company beach activations along the French Riviera, it seems likely too much to take in.
Finally, I exit the app and think about what I’m personally looking forward to. Seeing how South African work holds up next to the best from all over the world will no doubt be a highlight. I’m particularly keen to see how our we do against work like:
Volvo’s innovation project, “Highway Robbery”
Apple Music’s YouTube breaking “Taylor vs Treadmill”
The hilarious Christmas campaign from Currys PC World featuring Jeff Goldblum
Save The Children’s hard hitting film about the plight of child refugees
And this really simple but undeniably cool ad for The Grammy’s featuring Kendrick Lamar
In the meantime, I wish everyone making plans to go on advertising’s yearly pilgrimage the best of luck. Everyone except for David Droga. He doesn’t need it apparently.
If apartheid had forced you to pack in a hurry, what would you have taken?
That was the very real dilemma faced 50 years ago by 60 000 people when Cape Town’s District Six infamously was declared a ‘whites only’ area.
In 1966 the residents of District Six, a mixed area in the heart of the city, were forcibly moved to remote and barren areas on the Cape Flats. They were given little warning of their eviction and many left with little more than a single suitcase.
To help the District Six Museum mark this important anniversary, Ogilvy Cape Town used the symbol of the suitcase as a way of telling the stories of those whose lives were so brutally disrupted.
Working with the museum and with some of the remaining evictees, Ogilvy CT found several vintage 1960’s suitcases and filled them with items from the era including personal items, books, clothing, valuables, actual photographs and apartheid-era identity documents with racial designations like ‘Cape Coloured’ and ‘Bantu’.
These suitcases were placed on the international and domestic baggage carousels at Cape Town International Airport where they were exposed to a captive audience of 23 000 people per day.
Custom-made luggage tags, each telling an individual eviction story and offering a discount on entry to the museum, were tied onto incoming suitcases. Ogilvy also took some of the original District Six evictees to the airport to share their stories with visitors one-on-one.