The focal point was the importance for digital agencies to win international awards - something Graham knows a lot about, as the winner of 17 Cannes Lions, 27 London International Statues and 70 Medals at the New York Festival.
The session began with some general knowledge about the Cannes Lions Awards, such as where it all began and why the Lion symbol was adopted. Graham then went on to show us year by year - the history of South African agency wins at the Lions.
The Cannes Lions was established when film distributors saw the need to have awards that would recognise world class creativity and craftsmanship.
The first Cannes Lion award to be won by South Africa in 1990 was by Mercedes Benz. This was followed by two more South African advertisements in 1992 - both for BMW. We were also reminded that the car category is the toughest of all categories awarded at the Cannes.
Cannes introduced the first digital category, which was called 'Cyber' in 1998. South Africa won our first 'Cyber' gold in 2003, but we never placed again in this category.
Graham points out the trend occurring with our success among the Cannes Lions, as for a long time, South Africa would only win awards in alternating years.
In 2006, South Africa won its first Grand Prix award - an award that trumps all others, and there is only one per category. The South African ad was for Lego, entitled, 'Periscope'.
A total of 272 awards have been won by South African agencies in 15 years, and only two during this time are Cyber Lions for top digital work.
Graham struck a chord with his audience when he stated, "Don't be an agency just to make money or grow as fast as possible. The most successful digital agencies will focus on the quality of their work, and distinctive ideas that make their clients and country famous."
The South African Bookmark Awards sees 13 traditional advertising agencies entered and 47 digital agencies; Graham says that this gives us hope for stressing the importance on SA digital.
The audience walked away inspired by Graham's call to action for SA digital agencies to firstly be aware of the international events, like the Cannes Lions. "You can't win if you don't enter," he explained.
Of the top Internet countries in Africa, South Africa ranks in the top four.
"Win a Cannes and feel the reward and then let's be a great digital nation. Digital is the future of the creative circle, not the other way round."
Graham rounded up his presentation by showing us the Foxp2 campaign for Drive Dry; 'Papa Wag Vir Jou', which created a spark in the guests who were impressed by the clever effects. He then invited Justin Gomes, Creative Director for Foxp2 to share his thoughts on the campaign he helped shape.
The message was clear, we need to let our collective passion to drive SA forward inspire digital creativity worthy of Cannes. Graham asked that everyone take away one thing as inspiration from the talk - this website - www.canneslions.com
A special thanks to our sponsors, Nokia
, Backsberg wine
and Channel Mobile
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