Apocalypse Now!


With Loeries 2009 looming Mandy de Waal asks whether South Africa’s traditional advertising industry is partying at the end of the world.

Body painted girls_low res

Huge strobes light up the night sky. As I walk toward Young & Rubicam’s roof wetting party (held a couple of weeks ago) it feels a lot more like limbering into a SOHO burlesque club without the comedy or wry intelligence. After passing an albino boa constrictor and fire eater at the entrance, I was met by a handful of nipples.

Bare naked ladies bar slender g-strings covering their modest parts. With erotically painted bodies, they pour cocktails or lean into people to pour shooters into mouths. *A quick chat to the topless tootsies reveal they weren’t told they’d be topless. One says Y&R’s a big agency and you don’t say no to power or people who might book you again.

Behind me a gaggle of dwarves arrive in gypsy satins, ahead jugglers entertain as a number of bands set up for the evening. ‘Liquid chefs’ dazzle with cocktails in one area, but there’s a full bar next to a stage where ladies in lingerie dance.

All that’s missing from this party is a theme tune. Cue Francis Ford Coppola inspired rotor blades chukka-chukking, thrumming and strumming in unison. There’s an eerie silence as dust clouds swirl amid lush palm trees before The Ride of the Valkyries breaks in the background. A dazzling feat of cinematography, the opening sequence of “Apocalypse Now” is forever etched into our collective unconsciousness because of its hypnotic affect and disturbing brilliance in showing the brutality of annihilation. This as Jim Morrison heart achingly moans:

“This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
Ill never look into your eyes…again”

Traditional advertisers are facing their own ‘apocalypse’, it’s just that many haven’t quite realised it. As the local creative village prepares for the Loeries, our own party at the end of the world, it appears traditional advertisers are blissfully unaware of impending doom. The rotor blades are already being heard on the horizon but the boys are partying up a storm. I say boys because at Y&R the tits and ass were strikingly symbolic of a masculine construction, a relic of a bygone era. A time when advertising was a creative hedonism divorced from the bottom line. When agency bosses and CEOs played golf, chewed cigars and swooned over creative awards.

But there’s blood on the dance floor. The global recession and market melt down has brought an ice age that has frozen credit and shrunk consumer spending. Then there’s the rise and rise social media, the proliferation of mobile and other mediums that directly influence consumer behaviour alongside the unbridled growth and sophistication of search marketing. Each one a clear indicator that “this is the end, beautiful friend”. The traditional model advertising is starting to die, and as it does the tit and ass routine only smacks of denial.

With party plans for the 2009 Loeries nearing completion Herman Manson and Mandy de Waal of MarkLives and MandyLives ponder the apocalypse. We’ll look at the relics, dinosaurs, denial and other death knells of a pending catastrophe. But also focus on the remarkable innovations and mavericks already challenging and changing the advertising world.

Loeries 2009 – Apocolypse Now! Catch all the insight, action, and drama as Cape Town hosts South Africa’s party at the end of the world.

* When questioned, Michelle Cavé, Group PR Director of Young & Rubicam Brands SA advised that the outsourced supplier who provided talent for the party was briefed to ensure the models wore latex nipple caps and were body painted. Says Cavé : “This is the first that I have been made aware of the issue that the shooter girls we hired for our roof-wetting party were not briefed that they were going to work topless. At no point was this brought to my attention even after several queries I made with the girls on the night to ensure that they were happy and comfortable. The brief to our supplier who sourced the girls was to have body painted models serve drinks to our guests, which is what we got.”

Part 1 of our special Loeries coverage. Check back daily for new stories.


Published by Herman Manson

MarkLives.com is edited by Herman Manson. Follow us on Twitter - http://twitter.com/marklives

3 replies on “Apocalypse Now!”

  1. I was there too. I wish I hadn’t gone. I wish I could erase the experience from my memory…It was like watching a car crash…

    The theme tune that (I guess) the “creator” came up with in his head, the guiding theme, was one stolen from an Austin Powers movie…OH, BEHAVE!….psychedelic 70s music interspersed with monkey shreeks set the funky mood…

    Oh, grow up! Go jerk off under a table in Teazers, you freak!

    Utterly desperate, derivative and devoid of originality or vision. A shot in in a dark room, a hedonistic death-shudder from an industry on the precipice. A teenage boy’s fantasy come to life. The stuff of a Wayne’s World movie. Decidedly B-grade. Everybody is repulsed but too afraid to call the emperor naked.

    The guy who organised the party must be one of those simpletons who never realised that the Austin Powers movie was a spoof. Maybe he took too many drugs last year when he turned seventeen and fried his brain in the process. I have no doubt he/she has regular conversations with the Telly-Tubbys.

    One wonders how any serious corporate company would want to hire this agency after THAT shameless display of debauchery. It leaves one utterly devastated at Johannesburg society’s tolerance for all that is unholy; money making at all costs. Is THIS what we have become? Is this the best we can deliver? Sad.

    Where IS “the line” and once we crossed it, did anyone notice…It says more about ourselves for playing along than the twat who came up with/stole the concept. Maybe we should pinch ourselves and realise that we aren’t living in LA-LA Land.

    Then, another tune, perhaps more true to the actual event, is one from Little Britain…The Dennis Waterman character: “Oooh that’s nice!” “So they want me to star in it, write the feem toon (i.e. “theme tune”), sing the feem toon…”

  2. Bravo to both you ladies – Mandy and Fanny.
    You’re both really funny – and cutting.
    “Blood on the dance floor”
    “I have no doubt he/she has regular conversations with the Telly-Tubbys.”

  3. Great articles, Mandy and Fanny. This is not just one person’s fantasy gone wrong, though. Agencies always do things collaboratively, so this must be the agency’s collective idea of how to make a connection between themselves and their clients; and to show off their creative ability… As we know, if you lack inspiration or direction, resort to T&A.

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