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Cannes Lions Special Section

#CannesLions2021: "SA brings a unique cultural sensitivity" - Nkgabiseng Motau

Cannes Lions and its official representative in South Africa, Ster-Kinekor recently announced this year's jury. With only one month to go until two years' worth of Lion-winning work is awarded, we touched base with some of the local jury members for a preview of what to expect. First up, Nkgabiseng Motau.
Nkgabiseng Motau
Nkgabiseng Motau

Nkgabiseng Motau, founding partner and CCO at Think Creative Africa, is on this year’s Cannes Lions Print & Publishing jury and this marks her first Cannes judging experience to date.

Nkgabiseng is a member of the Creative Circle SA Exco Board, a 2020 ADC juror and a returning member of the Ad Stars Jury for 2021. She has been a recurring judge for Loeries, Pendorings, Creative Circle and Cannes Young Lions. She was a Jury Member for the 2020 D&AD Awards and is a member of the ABInbev Braintrust.

She holds a bachelor's degree in creative brand communication from Vega. During her time there, she was awarded a gold Pendoring for the branding of the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital, among other accolades. Nkgabiseng began her career at Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg, working on some of South Africa's most-loved brands, such as DStv, Cell C and Cadbury. She has also worked at FCB Africa on brands like Old Mutual, Wimpy and Coca-Cola for which she was awarded a Gold Loerie in the category of Effective Creativity.

Here, Motau shares what she’s most looking forward to from this year’s judging and what SA judges bring to the global creative mix…

Tell us more about yourself and why you believe you were selected – your judging experience and so on.

I am co-founder and CCO of Think Creative Africa, a through-the-line creative agency that combines truly African creativity and data-led insights to generate ideas that solve business problems and impact society.

My background is in art direction and so print is my first love in terms of advertising formats. I believe it forces single-minded thinking and strong visual discipline.

Where were you when you found out you'd be one of this year's Cannes Lions jurors, and what was your reaction to the news?

I was home working in my home office also known as my dining table. To be honest, I was almost reduced to tears. This is a dream come true (and it had been a long week).

Following the postponement of last year's awards, the juries will be judging both years' of work and awarding Lions for 2020 and 2021. Firstly, how did you respond to the news of the postponement and how do you feel about judging two-years’ worth of work?

I think the postponement was just another dagger in the back from 2020. Something that often is the lighthouse of the advertising calendar was taken away and it was truly discouraging. I am absolutely thrilled. I get to immerse myself in two years of the best creative work from two years that really required creative thinking. It is also my first judging experience, so I look forward to it.

Share a few of your favourite Cannes Lions-related moments over the years – either from attending personally or agency winning work-related.

I have only attended the Festival once, in 2015. It really changed the way I see the creative industry and my own role in it.

Much of the work that I came across inspired my decision to start my own business with my co-founder, Mukondi Kgomo.

What do you believe SA creatives bring to the global Cannes Lions judging mix?

South Africa is one of the most diverse countries in the world and, as a result, I believe we bring a unique cultural sensitivity. That and a really broad taste in humour.

Give us a glimpse of the specific criteria you’re looking for in judging this year's entries.

I am looking forward to innovative work that really reflects the zeitgeist and taps into human truths. Work that makes one feel angry that they didn't make it.
BizcommunityAny predictions of trends that are likely to stand out at Cannes Lions 2021?

Lots of Covid-19 response work. Clever PSAs, work that talks to the higher purpose of a brand and work that tackles issues around gender and race diversity.

Lastly, what are you most looking forward to from Cannes Lions 2021?

I am looking forward to inspiring work that pushes our industry and the world forward. I am also really looking forward to the jury discussions. I love a good debate.

The winners will be announced during Cannes Lions Live, a fully digital experience, running from 21 to 25 June 2021. Visit our Cannes Lions special section for the latest updates!

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As media partner to the Creative Circle SA, we’re proud to publish exclusive daily snapshot updates from Cannes. Don’t miss the first Diary of Creative Circle at Cannes from the SA cohort on the ground in Cannes, every day from 19-24 June! Also Book Now for The Full Circle event, brought to you by the Creative Circle - an inspiring showcase of the top trends, insights and award winning work from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

About Jessica Tennant

Jess is Senior Editor: Marketing & Media at She is also a contributing writer. moc.ytinummoczib@swengnitekram
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