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

The World of Ogilvy: #Ogilvillage

Today our Ogilvy Johannesburg office put together a great overview in plain English of the main specialist divisions within our Ogilvy & Mather family. We thought we would share them with you, see the images below.
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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

Audi A3 Exchange Overview

Above is the final video showing the winner of the new A3 Sportback from the Audi A3 Exchange.
We came up with the Audi A3 Exchange campaign to launch the new Audi A3 Sportback. Entry was via a microsite and people had to select whether they wanted the exchange to happen in #CT, #JHB or #DBN. People could vote for their preferred city by tweeting #AudiA3Exchange and #CT, #JHB or #DBN. Within a few hours of the campaign going live, #AudiA3Exchange was trending on Twitter. Below are some of the stats from the campaign so far.

•             Over the 3 week campaign period, 11 310 people entered to exchange their own car. 82% of which drove our direct competitors cars.
•             We generated over 50 437 tweets about the campaign.
•             We increased our Twitter following by 68% within the 3 week campaign period.
•             We had 56 730 total video views of the Audi A3 TVC on YouTube.
•             We generated R3 116 654 worth of earned media.
•             And, most importantly, for each week the campaign was live, we received more than 100 test drives a week.

To have a closer look at the new Audi A3 or book a test drive go to http://www.audi.co.za/za/brand/en/models/a3/a3-sportback.html

Unogwaja 2012 Documentary

In 2012, we filmed the Unogwaja challenge, an epic journey of 5 individuals as they cycled a gruelling 1677km from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg in just 10 days, followed by running the 98km Comrades Marathon on day 11.

This magical journey of the heart was inspired by Phil Masterton-Smith’s legendary feat in 1933, where, unable to afford the train fare from Cape Town, he cycled to Pietermaritzburg in order to run the marathon. Watch the team push themselves to the limit, both mentally and physically, as we cover the drama, the sweat, and ultimately the journey of the human spirit.

Work by Ogilvy REC