The leading creative work in the brand communications sector over the past year in
South Africa, Africa and the Middle East was awarded at the recent Loerie Awards in
Cape Town. Here the four international jury chairpersons give their perspectives about
Out of 2 978 entries in this year’s Loerie Awards, a total of 238 awards were handed
out in the main categories, including four Grands Prix, 26 Golds, 62 Silver, 105 Bronze
and nine Craft Golds.
In the categories for entries from outside of South Africa, three Gold, three Silver and
eight Bronze Loeries were awarded. The regional judges were Kalpesh Patankar from
Y&R Dubai and Alan Edgar from Ogilvy & Mather Africa.
Head of the jury for the TV and Radio categories, Geoffrey Hantson (executive
creative director at Duval Guillaume Modem, Belgium) believes that the South African
brand communications industry has a lot in common with its Belgian counterpart.
“Budgets tend to be smaller, meaning that agencies try harder,’ says Hantson. “Ideas
are bigger and well-crafted. You can definitely see this in the Radio entries we saw –
they are world class. Extremely well-crafted, they provide a complete audience
experience. Given the audience demographics in South Africa, I think this makes
Hantson was a bit disappointed in the TV categories. “South African agencies need to
be braver and really push boundaries if they are to achieve an international standard
in this category.
“I was also disappointed in the Integrated categories – there were some good ideas
but nothing great. Remember that “good’ is the enemy of “great’. I also missed the
relevance in a couple of the Integrated campaigns – there is no point in throwing in a
big idea if it has no relevance whatsoever to the brand.’
As to whether there are any outstanding concepts that caught the judges’ notice,
Hantson responds: “There were a couple of music video entries that were really
outstanding – I saw a lot of courage here that I didn’t see in the commercials.
“Generally speaking though, one discernible trend in the entries was a lack of
courage. A word of advice to agencies is to start with a brave idea that really pushes
boundaries, followed by execution – always bravery first, and then execution /
According to Hantson, the entries had a good local feel. “There was a good balance
between clarity – even as a foreigner I was able to grasp concepts, with a little
explanation from the local judges, and the local flavour.’
He stresses that the South African industry needs to focus on bravery. “Make work
that is so good that it makes you proud to be a South African. A good test of this is
when you see an ad that makes you feel proud to be a South African, despite your
dislike of the creative director or rivalry with the agency.’
On the digital track
Debbi Vandeven, chief creative officer at VML, Kansas City, who headed the Digital
jury, believes that it is always difficult to comment on the overall standard of entries
in a competition.
“There were some really good ones and some that were not quite there. Compared to
the US, South African budgets sometimes tend to be more conservative and therefore
we see a lot of agencies trying harder, which is encouraging. Simple, strong ideas
that are well-executed always come across the best,’ states Vandeven.
As to whether local ones measure up to international standards, she comments: “It is
challenging to talk of an “international standard’, as there is always good and poor
work in any region. By the time we judge the entries – whether in South Africa or
overseas – a lot of the poorer work has already been filtered out through the
selection process, so you are left with work that’s generally of a higher-than-average
standard. A lot of the great work I saw definitely measures up to some of the best
With so much focus on digital technologies these days, there can be the danger of ad
agency creatives forgetting that good brand communication, regardless of the
platform, starts with a decent idea.
“Often an agency will overcomplicate a campaign in an attempt to throw as many new
technologies at it as possible,’ continues Vandeven. “This is not limited to South
Africa, it’s a global problem across digital categories. We see this everywhere. I
always maintain that a good, strong idea, well-executed, is always the most stand-
out entry and I saw several instances of this while judging the Loeries.’
She notes that Digital categories that were most populated in terms of the number of
entries were Digitally Led & Integrated Campaigns and Mobile Apps & Tools.
“But it’s difficult to narrow down which Digital category was the most impressive.
There were amazing pieces across several categories. One word of advice I have for
agencies entering creative awards is to keep your videos short – between one and
two minutes is ideal. Judges have hundreds of entries to get through and a brief but
attention-grabbing video that succinctly communicates the most salient points works
best. The main idea should always be clear in the first 20 seconds of the video.
“Something else we see a lot of is that many agencies produce one video for a
campaign and enter it across multiple categories, trying to cover all of the different
category components in one video. The danger of this is that videos are long and
complicated, and not enough info is included on the component that is being judged
in that specific category. It may take a bit longer but rather include another video or
supporting material that substantiates the entry against the criteria according to
which it is being judged,’ concludes Vandeven.
According to Jason Little, jury chair of the Design categories and creative director at
Re, Sydney, the overall standard of entries in these categories was good.
“South Africans are still too conservative and influenced by international trends,’ he
explains. “In order to really produce excellent work they need to be more radical in
their thinking. Award-winning work is work that pushes boundaries.
“Elements of the South African work that I saw are of international standard but more
bravery is needed. There is clear opportunity in each of the Design categories to push
boundaries – brands and agencies need to rise to the challenge.’
Little notes that the South African language, humour and traditional / cultural
aesthetics definitely came through in the work.
“This is wonderful to see. Retaining the cultural integrity and diversity is important,
and this was evident in the entries we saw,’ he comments.
The overall standard of entries in the Print & Collateral Media categories was high,
says jury chair Goetz Ulmer, executive creative director at Jung von Matt, Hamburg.
“However, I don’t find this surprising, as I have seen this from South Africa a lot in
the past,’ he notes. “The work is most definitely up to international standards.’
When asked if there is such a thing as a South African style in the Print & Collateral
Media work, Ulmer responds: “Always black, yellow and white – ha ha! Seriously
though, the work is generally well-crafted and there are a few amazing newspaper ads
that I wish I would have done.’
The full list of Loerie winners can be accessed on www.loeries.com.