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The very first time I attended the Loeries (South Africa’s largest advertising awards) at Sun City back in 2000, I danced with Lowe Bull and Bull-Whitehouse founder Matthew Bull and had no idea who the hell he was. I learnt that advertising people were a bunch of unruly, scary, crazy people. But I also realised that I wanted to walk up on that stage one day and feel that rock-star feeling when grasping a golden award. As I grow in advertising, I’ve come to realise that winning is not everything but it sure does open the doors for you, your clients and your agency. And a sprinkle of star-dust never hurt anyone.
Why are awards good? They help lift the creative standard, they give us international standing and most importantly, according to research by Andrew Human (CEO of the Loeries), creatively awarded work is 11% more effective at generating market share.
The captains of the South African ad industry recently gathered at a DMMA event to share their tips on how to win awards. As expected, there are no golden rules or magical recipes and if someone has it, they’re certainly not going to let the cat out the bag. But what can be said is that it all starts with a great idea and no amount of gift wrapping and spritzing can make a bad idea brilliant. As Quirk’s Fran Luckin so aptly pointed out, “You won’t survive awards shows until you have a great idea.” It sounds so obvious but perhaps that was the most important outtake for the day.
If you’re in advertising, you’re in the business of ideas and award shows exist to acknowledge outstanding ideas. The ideas that win are unquestionably brilliant and undoubtedly loved by all. In other words, you need to do purpose-driven work that lives in people’s lives. And if what the doyens of our industry are saying is true, then this is the core of what we require to bring home the metal.
Here is a summary of the main tips handed out at the event:
- Don’t try to win an award.
- Remember what got you into advertising and try to do those things in your work.
- All the greatest awarded work has an impact on the brand or changes society in some way.
- Awarded work is a perfect combination of the right idea, the right brand, impeccable craft and the right people involved.
- Great campaigns that are completely great get consistently recognised.
- When using stats, put them into context and make them meaningful and relevant.
- Simplicity wins.
- A really charming entry video can elevate your idea, provided it’s a good idea to begin with.
- Tell the truth about what you did.
- Study the categories and understand what wins.
- Take a view on proactive work. “Winning with a conscience is far more important” – Graham Warsop.
- It will be painfully obvious to judges if you don’t have a great idea.
The event ended with a pertinent reminder of Jupiter Drawing Room boss Graham Warsop’s challenge to the industry.
In the last seven years at Cannes, South Africa has won six Grand Prix awards. Of the total winnings since 1990, only two have been Cyber Lions. Warsop ended by saying that he is passing the baton on to the digital agencies and reminded us of his challenge to the industry — the next agency to win a Cyber Lion gets to toast the award with a case of Bollinger, courtesy of the Jupiter Drawing Room. But something tells me that the motivation of winning big and thereby making South Africa the nation that leads the digital age in Africa, is a far sweeter and more intoxicating motivation.