A very exciting email popped up in my inbox last week, offering me a media pass to the 2013 Bookmark Awards. No one has ever given me a media pass before.
Or invited me to an awards ceremony, for that matter.
And listen, yesterday was a super crazy day. I’ll tell you about that later, but by the time I got back to the office at 17:30 I was sweaty and dusty and sleepy after an adrenaline-filled afternoon. Never have I been more grateful for the shower some heroic soul installed in our office. I stuffed my grubby casual attire into my tog bag and slipped into my wedding dress*.
[*Disclaimer: This is not an actual wedding dress, this is just the dress I wear to weddings.]
[** Disclaimer 2: There is the only picture of me from the whole evening. Thanks to Sam Holt for even thinking of whipping out a camera, because no one else did. I don’t want to talk about my fat arm.]
The organizers had gone all out on the glitz and glamour and it was beautiful. Welcome drinks were served in the chandelier foyer of the Artscape and waiters swanned around with delicious mini-meals on pieces of slate, the description written on it in chalk. Mini pot pies, brie and pistachio wontons, cones of fish ‘n chips. We had the waiters trained in no time; at least one person needed to be at our elbows at all time carrying either food or booze. They were happy to oblige.
The Bookmarks are in the sixth year and were started by the gorgeous, cannot-believe-she-had-a-baby-a-month-ago Nikki Cockroft as a platform to recognise excellence in the South African digital marketing industry. The winners are chosen not only on the work they have produced but also, importantly, on the results that work generated. It is, in contrast to other awards ceremonies, a nod to successful ideas and not just big ideas.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. I bumped into old classmates, old friends and new friends. I bonded with a new member of our team and hung out with colleagues I don’t often get to chat to in a social setting. Gareth Cliff was the MC and I though he did a fantastic job. He’s been around since I was in high school and I’ve never really paid much attention to him, but last night he impressed me. He seemed genuinely informed about the digital industry, was witty and kept his good humour throughout despite some technical difficulties which made his job a bit harder.
“You don’t do a speech. You make a speech and you do a poo.” – @GarethCliff
Unfortunately, the awards part fell a bit flat for me. (This is probably the last time someone ever invites me anywhere). There are a lot of categories and many of them had multiple bronze winners but no silver or gold winners. The bronze winners do not come on stage, the silver winners do but only to collect the award and the gold winners say a speech. I think only the work of the gold winners would have been shown, but the videos weren’t working and so no work was seen.
This had several results:
– Gareth Cliff read out a list of names to us and we clapped at the relevant intervals.
– Sometimes we had to wait while people climbed out from the middle of the aisle and then watched as they walked up onto the stage, across it and then off again.
– Hardly anyone had a speech prepared and no one said more than just a thank you.
– There was no context given as to why the awards were won. What the campaign entailed or what the results were. Which, since it’s the main point of these awards, was quite disappointing.
I found this quite frustrating and (truth be told) a little bit boring, although I do sympathize that their video system wasn’t working.
Nonetheless, I would like to offer a huge congratulations to not only all the winners of last night, but also those shortlisted. The full list can be viewed on the Bookmarks website here but special mention should undoubtedly go to NATIVE who were named South Africa’s best digital agency. They took home seven (COUNT ‘EM) Pixels last night, including Gold in the Social Media Campaigns Category for The Exchange, a cashless fashion boutique in which shoppers could ‘buy’ designer items by signing up to be a blood donor.
Another one of my favourite winning campaigns, in the same category, is Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town’s campaign “Send your Facebook profile to Cape Town” which was done for Cape Town Tourism.
“Most tourism brands are gifted with big media and productions budgets.We didn’t have that luxury. […]
So we used the place where people already share their holidays: Facebook. Our Idea was simple, Send your Facebook profile to Cape Town and you could win the trip for real. Through a Facebook application, Facebook users could send their profiles on a virtual tailor made holiday and for 5 days, status updates, photos and video posts automatically landed in their timelines.”
But perhaps the kiffest part of the whole evening was the mashup, which was produced in two hours in a little soundbox on the stage. Local artists AKA, Jon Savage, DJ Naaldekoker and Arno Carstens (in a superman dressing gown and yellow sunglasses, live via Skype. Why does that man always look and sound like he is wasted?) were only allowed to use audience suggestions to create this track. We shouted out topics and voted between three beats. The artwork was designed by an unprepared designer, pulled out of the crowd. The result, was this:
I mean, at a digital awards ceremony I feel like that whole process should have won something.
It was a really great evening. I hope next year will be even better and I hope, despite my constructive criticism of the announcing of award winners, I get invited back again.
The digital industry in South Africa is only going to get better and stronger as more brands wake up to what so many international brands already know. Digital is the future. This will come as no surprise to anyone and so the questions remains why so many brands dedicate such small portions of their marketing budgets to digital. I’m am thrilled and excited to be involved in this industry and I can’t even imagine where we’ll be in five years time; the possibilities are endless.