The dirty little secret at Loeries this weekend, which no one wanted to really mention in public, but had plenty of opinion on privately, was the apparent inadvertent leaking of the list of Loerie awards results for most of the Saturday and Sunday night awards, by of all culprits – the Loerie committee itself. Loerie Awards MD Andrew Human called it an “IT error”, but industry folk were using much stronger language, with some award-winning creatives going so far as to call it a “disgusting oversight” which put a spoiler on the annual awards by taking away the element of surprise.
What was a relief – as no one wanted to spoil the party for the winners – was that whispers of an ‘embargo' of Sunday night's ceremony by those who knew they weren't winners, didn't materialise. The huge tent was packed to capacity and the noise level from shouting, cheering agency teams scattered all over the tent was deafening, along with the singing and jiving which took place when Gang of Instrumentals, Mafikizola and the Dirty Skirts took to the stage as part of the booked entertainment.
But knowing the list of winners beforehand, was “like being given your own Christmas present to wrap”, said Lowe Bull Group MD Wayne Naidoo, who was one of the senior agency execs who came to Bizcommunity.com over the weekend to express their dissatisfaction with the way the whole issues was handled.
Rumours of Loerie winners lists began circulating last week and emails were flying around the industry. Initially most people believed it was a fake list, put out to rev up the industry, but by Friday it was revealed – reluctantly by The Loerie Awards committee and only after media queries – that some IT guy had prepped and made the list of winners for most of Saturday and Sunday night live on the website, instead of ‘hiding it' to only go live after the events, as what was probably intended.Celebration
And yes, Loeries is not just about winning or winners, it is a celebration of creative excellence in the industry overall and the festival weekend in Margate has become much more than just about the Loerie awards given out. And The Loerie Awards executive led by MD Andrew Human and the board have to be congratulated on taking the profile of The Loerie Awards into the mainstream with national, not just industry, news coverage and increasing the footprint across Africa and the Middle East, as evidenced by the Dubai Grand Prix winner this weekend. Margate is everything it was envisioned to be three years ago and the locals have delivered overall beyond expectations, with operations on the ground becoming more professional and slick each year.
But the monumental cock up of having the awards released, through a claimed IT glitch of all things on the official Loerie website, is a farce. The media take embargoes very seriously. Editors have been fired for breaking them intentionally and disciplined for breaking them inadvertently. For the organisers themselves to break the embargo defies belief and beggars the question as to what kind of information security process is maintained for events like this.
It is also sad that on such a gorgeous Loerie weekend, with the positive influence of being by the seaside and in the sun contributing to the party atmosphere and general all-round feeling of well being, that the main event should be spoiled by something like this. It's not something any of us in the industry or as observers or clients, would like to ever see happen. Particularly after the tremendous hard work and planning that it takes to get to this pinnacle of the whole process.
And it's irrelevant that the worst kept secret in the industry was the awards results in the past as industry judges were informed of the results and then told their agencies and invited their clients. That's the past – a standard was set to keep the awards results secret in the past three years and it's that standard that needs to be maintained if that is the intent.Horrible
Commented Jupiter Cape Town MD and chair, Kevin Aspoas: “It's degraded the whole industry. You can't have things like this being leaked. Action needs to be taken and the industry needs to know the who, why and what happened. There seems to be a cover up.
“As the industry, we and marketers have to build up the currency of the Loeries. This undermines that. This is about the collective of the industry, not just about knowing the winners. This is also about inspiring the industry… about inspiring young people,” a clearly angry Aspoas said.
“It was horrible to know the list,” added McCann's Naidoo. “That's the sad thing… when agencies bring the amount of staff that they do – from the agency head to the driver – to celebrate and experience Loeries, and then this happens. There is a better sense of togetherness when there is an element of surprise. It was disgusting… we saw youngsters in the industry congratulating each other before the time. As agency heads we had to manage expectations.
“It is absolutely unacceptable. By the second category on Saturday night we knew that the list was the real one. So we all know the results for tonight [Sunday, 29 July].”Biz readers reveal all
An anonymous reader even posted a comment on Bizcommunity late Thursday commenting on the issue and revealing that there was an international Grand Prix winner – which we removed as soon as we saw it. The headline to the post read: “Winners leaked – stop press” with the comment [sic]:“What's the point of going to Margate anymore? The winners (from the "Advertising" section anyway) have been leaked. They were posted by mistake on the official Loerie website yesterday (Wednesday). A few sharp people were quick enough to copy all the results and by now anyone who's anyone in advertising would have seen them. What a @#$%up. Andrew Human must be panicking, I feel sorry for the guy. Still, not the kind of slip-up that's going to be easy to explain away. And wow – TV Grand Prix going to an international agency – that's a first.”
Commenting on Friday from Margate, Loeries MD, Andrew Human confirmed the results had been leaked on the official Loerie website and said that as head of the Loerie Awards executive, he accepted full responsibility: http://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/121/16668.html