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Loeries 2013: Nice show, great work

Date posted: September 25, 2013

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Louise Marslandby Louise Marsland (@louise_marsland) A conversation I had with Draftfcb group CEO John Dixon at the annual Draft media lunch at The Bungalow, Cape Town, on Sunday afternoon got me thinking about The Loerie Awards and how far it’s come.

I’ve been covering the Loeries since the sequined Sun City days 14 years ago, when then M-Net presenter Michelle McLean changed her outfit more times than she got to hand out a Loerie, all through the chaotic excess of the Margate years to the return of the more-formal glamour of the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Dixon asked what I thought of the awards Saturday night and my response was: “It was nice; the work was great, though.”

Margate epoch

I also mentioned how much I missed the drunken debauchery of the Margate epoch.

It gave us great copy — the legends about coke being handed around on a silver platter on the buses; the tent that almost blew down in the high winds that first year; the 4am streaking through Margate main road; the TVs and toilets thrown out of windows… and who can forget the lovely man who waggled his well-endowed manhood for all to see from the 7th story of the flats opposite the Mugg & Bean (we at least had video that year!)…

Or the weirdoes who mooned the audience, hopping from chair to chair while blissfully high (such a pity we didn’t have Twitter then); the drunken gold Loerie winner who fell off the stage after accepting his award, breaking a few ribs; and, of course, the infamous red underpants stunt that got the industry uninvited from the seaside dorp and plenty of copy in the tabloid press.

Rumours abounded of agencies offering cash prizes to the most badly behaved folk who got the most column centimetres…

Like the long Friday lunch, how I miss those days – as a journalist! What brilliant copy it all made.

What the industry needs

While a “nice” ceremony isn’t what gives us, the media, colourful copy, it is what the industry needs to showcase the work. Because, amongst all the sideshows of Margate and the interminably lengthy Sun City shows, the focus on the work shifted to the facilities, or lack thereof, and the behaviour of the industry as a collective.

And that was not good for business.

The Loeries should indeed be about the work, about promoting creativity, about promoting South African — and now African talent — in the industry. You should be able to take your clients and show off the industry and the work.

That’s what the creative industry has tried to achieve, with admirable results, since it took ownership of The Loerie Awards from the bankrupt Marketing Federation.

Business has changed

Business has changed during this global recession and all industry with it, including the advertising industry.

While we must celebrate the creativity and the eccentricity that makes the industry one of the most special and fun to work in and report on, with social media recording the minutiae of everyone’s lives in this YouTube generation, you can’t afford to have your clients not only think the worst, but to see the worst.

Yes, the MCs were mediocre — thank goodness for bad-boy John Vlismas who killed it on stage and brought levity to the Sunday night, although co-host, the young Dineo Moeketsi, was like a lamb to the slaughter in the face of Vlismas’s no-holds-barred comedy. Poor baby. How about a Vlismas/Nathaniel pairing next time? Now that would be as subtle as those Checkers commercials with Gordon Ramsay!

As it should be

So, as I said to Dixon at the lovely long lunch with a view (thank goodness some traditions haven’t died!), the ceremony should be low key, the MCs should be OK, people should dress up — because the work deserves it. And the Loeries is, finally, all about the work, as it should be.

— Louise Marsland has written about the FMCG, media, marketing and advertising industry for 18 years of her 25 year media career as a former Editor of magazines AdVantageMarketing Mix and Progressive Retailing; as well as websites Bizcommunity.com and FMCGFiles. She currently edits the weekly Wednesday Media & Marketing Page for The New Age newspaper; and is the Co-founder and Publishing Editor of SA’s newly launched industry trendwatching portal, TREND. at www.trendlives.info, in partnership with MarkLives.com.