Johannesburg – South Africa’s largest ad agency, Ogilvy Johannesburg, won a Gold Lion in the "film" (TV) category at the Cannes advertising festival on Saturday night, the first for SA in this category for 11 years.
In doing so, it restored a semblance of respectability to the national performance at Cannes this year, and leapfrogged the agency from sixth in the table to second.
Its winning spot was for the Topsy Foundation, an Aids treatment facility.
The film category, which includes advertising on screens of all sizes (cellphone, laptop, cinema and electronic billboard), traditionally brings Cannes week to a conclusion on the Saturday night.
South Africa has never done well in this category, but this year's haul of a Gold, two Bronzes and 18 shortlists was much better than usual.
Overall, though, South African agencies brought back 30% less metalware than last year (which was, admittedly, a particularly good year). The disparity was particularly evident at the upper end of the scale, where three Golds this year looked miserly by comparison with the 2009 haul of two Grands Prix and five Golds.
The key differentiator was the Trillion Dollar Billboard campaign by TBWA Hunt Lascaris for The Zimbabwean newspaper, which has become the most-awarded campaign in world advertising history. Without it, last year would also have been pretty mediocre for South African advertising.
But even without it, Hunt Lascaris is the most successful SA agency at Cannes this year as well – a resounding answer to the cynics who dismissed the agency's creative revival as a one-hit wonder.
Hunt Lascaris won a Gold, two Silvers, one Bronze and six shortlists, worth 150 AdReview points. It is followed by Ogilvy Johannesburg (100), Y&R (72), Draftfcb Jhb (62), Ogilvy Cape Town (43), Net#work BBDO Jhb (35), JWT Cape Town (25) and FoxP2 (22).