Business Maverick


Social and political issues in spotlight as Loeries winners are honoured

Social and political issues in spotlight as Loeries winners are honoured
General view of the 2023 Loeries Awards at City Hall on 6 October 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: ER Lombard / Gallo Images)

Campaigns that were honoured in this year’s Loerie annual awards for brand communicators in Africa and the Middle East focused on socially relevant topics ranging from press freedom to mental health.

This year’s Loeries, the annual brand communications awards for creativity and innovation across Africa and the Middle East, honoured some powerful work last weekend.

Many of the award-winning campaigns centred on social and political causes, including stifled press freedom in Lebanon, mental health, suicide prevention, hearing tests for young people, responsible packaging and period poverty.

There were also fun and quirky ads for fried chicken and insurance, and an advert about car crashes that literally nobody saw coming: Volkswagen’s “Blind Spot Monitor”, which sees what others don’t, showcases a key feature of its smart safety system.


Volkswagen’s ‘Blind Spot Monitor’. (Image: Supplied)

The VW campaign, by Ogilvy South Africa, won a Grand Prix. Life-size installations were created featuring objects most likely to be found in a driver’s blind spot — the delivery guy, the cyclist — painted with BLK3.0, one of the blackest paints in the world. It absorbs 99% of light.

By making the objects “disappear” against a giant black spot on a wall, the point is made about objects caught in the blind spot.

Ogilvy won Agency of the Year and Most Effective Agency.

Another powerful campaign, by Impact BBDO, for AnNahar newspaper in Lebanon, also won a Grand Prix, for its “Newspapers inside the newspaper” campaign.


Impact BBDO, for AnNahar newspaper in Lebanon, won a Grand Prix for its ‘Newspapers inside the newspaper’ campaign. (Image: Supplied)

In a voiceover, a woman says: “In Lebanon, political oppression, government failure and the resulting crumbling economy continue to silence defiant voices, either by killing journalists or shutting down dozens of new publications, titles that are believed to be dead and gone forever.

AnNahar newspaper, to uphold the free voice of [the] press and to honour the death anniversary of … editor-in-chief Gebran Tueni, who had been assassinated [in December 2005] for his voice, did something incredibly defiant: a daily edition that, within its pages, gave space to six publications that had forcefully been terminated over the past few years.”

Inside the paper, previously defunct newspapers were displayed — written by the very journalists who had once contributed to them.

Designed according to their original layouts and identities, these reborn titles were available in print, online and on social media —  and read widely all over Lebanon once again. Even politicians, themselves at risk, spoke about the campaign.

Despite intimidation, AnNahar —  de­­scribed as The New York Times of the Middle East for its fearless reporting —  sent a message: freedom of speech will never be silenced.

Another campaign by Impact BBDO featured “schoolgirl newscasters” in Pakistan reading the news. The thrust of the campaign was that the girls were able to do so because somebody sent them to school.

‘I’ll return a stronger man’

TBWA\South Africa’s powerful campaign for the Riky Rick Foundation won four golds. The hip-hop track Stronger features the popular hip-hop star and fashion designer at the height of his fame, on stage and loved by legions of fans, and with his gorgeous family — punctuated by the reality that on 23 February 2022, Rick took his own life at the age of just 34.

The campaign to raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention was inspired by his last tweet, “I’ll return a stronger man. This land is still my home.”

Stronger brought Rick’s voice back to life, using artificial intelligence and his social media posts.

Producer Nick Argyros explains: “It was surreal because he had almost left a song in some of the posts. All we had to do was piece it together.

“We really didn’t actually add anything. We tried to keep true to it — all of the words and lyrics used in the song were Riky’s.”

It’s goosebump material.

Period poverty featured in two adverts: a radio ad from South Africa and a campaign from Kenya, “Stain, not shame”, by Scanad for the Zeva fashion brand.


‘Stain, not shame’ won gold for PR and silver for social impact. (Image: Supplied)

“Stain, not shame” won gold for PR and silver for social impact. It’s premised on menstrual staining on clothes, with this opener: a Kenyan senator was thrown out of parliament and shamed outrageously just because … she had stained her trousers.

The story made international news. In response, on International Women’s Day, Zeva created a range of clothing with bright red spots in strategic positions to challenge people to look at period stains differently.

Solitary bees and gin

Inverroche premium gin’s Bee&Bee campaign, by Grid Worldwide, focuses on solitary bees, which are essential for pollinating a third of the world’s crops.

Grid won a gold for package design and bronzes for design mixed-media, out-of-home and social impact.

Most people don’t know solitary bees exist, but Inverroche wanted to highlight their critical role in nature.

Unlike honeybees that live in hives, solitary bees live in holes, but their nesting grounds are disappearing and their numbers are declining. In showing its appreciation for solitary bees, which are critical for pollinating one of its gin’s key ingredients — fynbos — Inverroche set out to create bee hotels for solitary bees that would mimic their natural nesting grounds and found a way to incorporate them into the brand’s packaging.

The limited edition Inverroche Bee&Bee packaging for gin can be reassembled and hung outdoors to encourage bee nesting. It avoids glue and varnish, has a peg assembly system and uses laser engraving instead of printing. The special packaging will be available until spring 2024.

Suhana Gordhan, a board member of the Loeries, says the work that really makes a difference is done authentically and to drive behaviour change and create awareness — it’s not just produced for an award.

“That’s what is coming through strongly,” she says. Because the awards extend across Africa and the Middle East, they are starting to see more work about social causes.

“A constant winner is AnNahar newspaper, because they’re consistently producing work that’s about trying to achieve change in their world,” she says.

Ali Rez, the chief creative officer of Impact BBDO, Dubai, was a jury president and seminar speaker at the Loeries and serves on the Loeries committee. He says what he loves about the Loeries is that there is a lot of relevance to local culture.

“It is wonderful to see. I think there’s a lot of work that is specifically designed for the country that it’s supposed to run in, whether it’s South Africa, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates or Kenya. And the insight is so raw. The beauty is that they really take pride in the local strategic insight, which is very valuable.” DM


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