We’re in a Jacuzzi: digital and the Loeries

Steve Jobs once said: “We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life.” Excellence — recognising it, rewarding it, inspiring it — is the aim of the Loerie Awards. This year, the most excellent creative digital agency of all — based on the amount of silverware they get to take home — is HelloComputer. Following them are Gloo Digital Design, NATIVE, Pixel Project, Prezence, Digital Fabric, Leftfield and Strike Media.

Gloo won the most individual awards, including golds for Design Indaba XIV microsite and Brandhouse Drive Dry the but HelloComputer’s Grand Prix for the Musica Flo Browser assured them top billing. The Vodacom Mobile Award, which recognises the most creative use of mobile media in the internet, Mobile and Interactive category, went to 140 BBDO and Native for the “Visi Covet” iPhone application. (For a complete list of winners, click here.)

It was interesting to see how many of the other winning campaigns included digital elements. Volkswagen and Ogilvy Cape Town’s Grand Prix-winning live activation using a silent marching band was seen by a couple of hundred people at most when it actually took place — but it was online where it went viral and was seen by thousands. MC Saatchi’s campaign for Mr Delivery relied almost completely on word of mouth. Increasingly, digital is becoming integral to campaigns that make use of other channels, not just an add-on, and this is a good sign.

Granted, digital work still doesn’t enjoy anything like the client focus or budgets in South Africa that it does elsewhere in the world, but that is changing, as CEO of HelloComputer, David Moffat commented at the Loerie media conference. Asked to comment on the return on investment in the Musica work, Moffat explained that the campaign was an R&D piece and that the client should take credit for being willing to take the risk on it. “It’s an ADSL connection away from making a sale,” he said. Great work sells product, he believes.

The impact on sales is an important question. Building an argument for creativity as an effective business tool is one of the major objectives of the Loeries, and the measurability of digital makes it a perfect channel for understanding how great work impacts on consumer behaviour and ultimately the bottom line. Loeries CEO Andrew Human himself has a long history in digital, moving into the field in the pioneering days of the 1990s before relocating to New York and becoming involved in awards shows. “The main thing I’ve been trying to achieve,” he says, “is to get people to understand that creativity is a business tool, that creativity is business.”

One notable development was how the Loeries themselves used social media. Draft FCB’s ad featuring Riaan Cruywagen sitting in a suit in a hot tub surrounded by women in bikinis was packed with in-jokes and memes and virtually guaranteed to go viral. The final line — “I’m in a Jacuzzi” — was of course a nod to the Old Spice campaign, Cannes Grand Prix winner and the most successful viral campaign ever.

South Africa hasn’t produced an Old Spice campaign of its own yet, but the role of awards like the Loeries is just as much to inspire those who aren’t winners on the night as it is to reward those the judges deemed bird-worthy. Pete Case of Gloo commented later: “With digital taking the main Grand Prix of Sunday night’s show, the industry has shown a huge leap forward in profile and has a great deal to celebrate.” In the end, it’s up to us to use those examples of great work to motivate our clients — and our people — to insist on excellence in everything we do.


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