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Does the Loeries add value to the world of brands and branding?

By Janet Kinghorn, Board Member of Brand Council South Africa (BCSA) and Executive Creative Director at The Brand Union.

Every year for one weekend the South African marketing, advertising and design community adds a whole lot of value to the liquor industry’s bottom line. But what about the rest of the year – what else does the Loeries contribute to?

I had the opportunity to judge the design category at this year’s awards, and was pleasantly surprised.   The Loeries has a reputation for being a raucous weekend where creatives get together to slap each other on the back. There was a bit of that, but it  felt to me that the Loeries had grown up and was genuinely making a contribution to the improvement of the communication industry.

Looking at the work entered and the work that ultimately won, it reminded me of a few things that have renewed my faith in this event: that every day as an industry we are faced with briefs that have the potential to change the perception of brands and their value.  That the most boring briefs (like the one for a direct mail piece for a radio station) can produce beautifully crafted pieces of design and communication that will ultimately make people reconsider a brand (and in this case, win a Grand Prix). And that as an industry we should be more creatively focused on work relating to our government and industries than on our corporates, because what we do has the power to change our nation. 

On this note I would like to congratulate the great people at the Jupiter Drawing Room who took on our education system by redesigning a range of textbooks. No, it didn’t get an award nor was it nominated as a finalist, but I think it deserves a mention because these books could literally change our children’s futures. It made me reconsider the value of craft and time; the difference between OK and flippen amazing and, in this instance, a finalist vs a Grand Prix.

Sitting in the audience over the weekend I was delighted by the amount of work generated by genuine briefs, from real clients, taking home the metal.  I remember a time when the Loeries was all about tattoo parlour ads and barber shop logos. Those days it seems, have gone. Clients are exposed to better work. They want their brands to walk the stage as much as the agencies that create them. The brave ones, like Nando’s, have known for years that creativity and having a great brand story create revenue. And this year it was awarded not only a Grand Prix for one of its television ads, but also a Marketing Leadership and Innovation Award.  This award really highlights the relationships built not only between brands and their consumers, but also between marketers and their agency partners.

More weirdly, the controversial combined gold for Nando’s and Santam showcased the relationships between agencies, and how brands are coming out of their usual spaces and actually working together to do something good. Some friendly brand (and agency) competition for a change, not the usual ‘if-it’s-not-created-here-it’s-not-worthy-scenario’.

The success of the Carling Black Label ‘Be the Coach’ campaign is testimony to how brands and their creators are being rewarded not just for selling their products but more importantly, for having an impact on their consumers.

In its own way, the Loeries makes brands sexy again by recognising them in this forum. It makes creatives want to work on them and clients want to buy more of the good stuff.  For brands, it’s a win-win situation. By rewarding the big guys, it hopefully means more budget and better work.  By rewarding the little guys, it means exposure and recognition.

It’s apparent from this past weekend that brands that work hard to build and maintain a solid foundation, whether that is visual, conceptual or narrative, are the ones that keep ending up on stage. They consistently grow a core idea, instead of reinventing it every time.  Carling, Nando’s and Marmite (to name a few of the award-winning brands of the event) are prime examples of this. It is about sustainability and growth; about those big bold ideas that will sustain and grow the iconic brands of our country. It is not just a bit of creative trumpet blowing.

I believe that the Loeries is a reflection of our industry, and if this year is anything to go by, we’re on the right track.


100 Day Plan
Brand Council South Africa is committed to a process of action on behalf of the broader branding and creative industry in South Africa. Watch this space closely for regular progress updates on our first 100 days commencing effective 1 March 2012.