by Herman Manson (@marklives) It’s like inviting Bucks Fizz to MC a champagne & sparkling wine event.

MC Hammer. Too Tight.

I’m of course talking about flying in MC Hammer to MC the Loerie Awards on Sunday evening, or not, as the case might be. The rapper’s uninspired and disinterested performance prompted one trade journalist to wonder aloud if it would not have been better to simply have a white sock present the event. Maybe Dial Direct could step up as the sponsor next year.

Never quite keeping up with the teleprompter MC Hammer stumbled over the word ‘Ubuntu’ once and then refused to have a second go at it. The teleprompter also tried helpfully to accommodate the organisers’ well known sense for irony by showing ‘loo-rie’ (being the bad PR investment I am I admit to a certain amount of glee in this instance) every time he had to say ‘Loerie.’

‘Where you going?’
‘Just nipping out to the loo-rie.’

The CEO of SA Cape Town Tourism provided a moment of brief relief in one the opening speeches when she woke the crowd up with “the deeper you get into Cape Town, the more beautiful she gets.” The gentlemen in front of me kept hissing ‘sis people’ while pretty much everybody else sniggered and snorted loudly at the (apparently) innocent double entendre.

At least the audience, adequately buttered up by the Western Cape premier Helen Zille (she knows how to read a crowd, that’s for sure), had lost the hard edge of the previous evening when they loudly and unceremoniously clapped the deputy mayor of Cape Town off the stage in his own city. To his credit he didn’t seem overly phased.

The two Loerie ceremonies were slick and well produced, but sometimes felt forced, as with the over scripted opening banter between the hosts of the Saturday event, Noot Vir Noot presenter Johan Stemmet and Zizo Beda. That said the duo did a perfectly good job as MCs and it felt more like the audience was laughing with Stemmet rather than at him, which was not necessarily the impression I got last year when Riaan Cruywagen and David Hasselhoff ran the show.

Stemmet, by the way, would have been the perfect host for the Pendoring Awards, which took place the Friday evening before the two Loerie ceremonies.

Andrew Human: ‘Ek sien jou.’

The Pendorings, which seated a much smaller number of people than the Loeries had to cater for, opted for a sit down dinner to encourage good behaviour. The award ceremony tried to meet somewhere between adland cool and Skouspel but veered toward Skouspel (which in the context of the two following evenings wasn’t a terrible thing at all). I thought it had heart and that people were really engaged. The winning work was up to standard.

Like all award ceremonies in the history of award ceremonies it was too long, clocking in at just over four hours, but it has secured credibility in the industry in spite of the Creative Circle refusing to let winning work count towards its point system, which in turn discourages agencies from entering the Pendorings. It’s important this oversight be corrected urgently and Creative Circle Chair Chris Gotz has indicated that he would be willing to engage on the matter.

Ad award ceremonies really aren’t made up of cinnamon and spice and all things nice. Like the industry it serves, it struggles to get right and balance the varying interests of its stakeholders, industry politics and its own commercial viability.

The excitement in a trade associated with aloof cynicism before the Friday, Saturday and Sunday award ceremonies were quite palpable and possibly a little endearing. Ad award shows has the potential to put a human face to a trade which might otherwise appear anonymous and distant to outsiders.  In this regard the Pendorings certainly succeeded while also busting some cultural stereotypes around its core constituency – note this tweet by Khaya Dlanga ‏(@khayadlanga) stating; “Black folks winning all over the place … #Pendoring Is this a case of Nationalise Pendorings?”

It really is wonderful to sit in front of a massive screen and see (the entered) best the industry has to offer. Of course, less so when one piece  takes multiple awards, in which case organisers could do well to limit repeats to the first three or four seconds instead of running it at full length five or six times during the course of the award ceremony.

At the Loeries four Grand Prix trophies were awarded. OFM’s ‘Change your Tune’ Direct & Promotional Mail by Joe Public, the SAB ‘Be the

John Hunt. Even ad people go fishing.

Coach’ Integrated Campaign by Ogilvy Cape Town, the Mercedes-Benz ‘Attention Assist’ Radio Campaign by Net#work BBDO and the Nando’s South Africa ‘The Last Dictator Standing’ TV & Cinema Commercial by Black River FC all took home the big bird.

Also for the first time one Gold Loerie was awarded to two (effectively) competing campaigns from two different agencies. King James and Black River FC shared an award for the respective parts they played in the Nando’s vs. Santam non-spat spat. It made for a nice little moment on stage – lots of high fives, hugs and a little bit of bump and grind.

I retrospect however – what were the Loeries people thinking – that the force of ‘creativity’ will magically chop one bird in two with either party happily taking half of it home? King James Group Creative Director Alistair King was prompted to tweet “So they lumped Santam ‘Sir Sneaky’ and ‘Back at ya’ together and gave out one award. So. Fucked. Up. And stupid. #loeries2012”

At least you landed Justin Gomes Alistair (professionally speaking of course). Well for 30 seconds you did, until Gomes, who was presenting an award and was announced as from King James, used the mike to quickly confirm he was still ECD at FoxP2, much one assumes to the relief of Charl Thom.

The biggest winner of the night was Ogilvy Cape Town’s ‘Be the coach‘ campaign for Carling Black Label. I counted six golds and the Grand Prix. It was absolutely deserved and a brilliant example of an integrated campaign which brought together digital, mobile, TV, print, sponsorship, PR and eventing. Cry your heart out Trillion Dollars. And for a paying client nogal.

New kid on the block Machine must be pretty happy with its haul of eight trophies and certificates for Marmite and Habari Media. Joe Public’s newly launched brand and design studio, Shift, meanwhile surprised with a Grand Prix and a Craft Certificate (Design Crafts).

The Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town did inspiring work with its installation for Skip (yes a washing powder!) for which it landed a gold. MetropolitanRepublic impressed with its truly innovative Braille Burgers campaign for Wimpy. DDB, TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris Johannesburg, Y&R and Saatchi & Saatchi were all present in the print category while FOXP2, Net#Work BBDO, Joe Public and 140 BBDO dominated radio.

In TV and cinematography Ogilvy Cape Town and Jozi both, Black River FC, King James, MetropolitanRepublic, 140 BBDO, Velocity and Egg Films all took gold. The powerful Lowe Bull Cape Town (now Lowe + Partners) ad for the Organ Donor Fund took silver, but frankly, it was the only one to choke me up. Ok that and maybe ‘Dog’ (MetropolitanRepublic for FNB) which did win a gold.

MK is… by Ogilvy Johannesburg, which dominated the Pendoring Awards on Friday night, looked like it might be skipped over by the Loerie judges on Saturday evening when all it managed to land was a silver, but it did land a Campaign Gold on Sunday.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to John Hunt, Worldwide Creative Director at TBWA\ Worldwide and Robbie Brozin of Nando’s was honoured with the Marketing Leadership and Innovation Award.

* Hermaneutics is a column by editor Herman Manson. It indicates as much opinion as reporting.
* Pics: The Loeries

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