In 1994, the year democracy dawned and Afrikaans finally lost its political dominance, a group of Afrikaans media and cultural organisations teamed up to launch the Pendoring Afrikaans Advertising Awards. The awards intended to reward advertising created in Afrikaans. [poll] [viral]
The sponsors of that first award had a definite financial incentive to launch an Afrikaans advertising award - English started dominating the political and commercial discourse in the country. This hasn't changed, as the sponsorship involvement by Afrikaans media brands DEKAT, Ads24, kykNET, RSG, Rapport and Media24 clearly indicates.
Afrikaans as a marketing language is under threat, believes Pendoring GM Franette Klerck, even if not as a spoken tongue or written language. In a recession, it's easier to cut budget and create a single ad (in English, needless to say) rather than to speak to consumers in their mother tongue. For this reason, Klerck believes, the awards remain relevant today.
The ATKV has been involved as a founding sponsor in the awards. Klerck says a misconception exists concerning this organisation and that today it is no longer the conservative institution of years past but a thoroughly modern one, despite a constitution that still describes it as a Christian organisation with a biblical foundation. According to Klerck, this sponsors' value system has not been imposed on the Pendorings nor its judging process.
This seems to be borne out in the latest call for entries campaign, created by Draftfcb, which is themed "Skep in die taal en bewys jou cool" and features Jack Parow as the face of 'cool Afrikaans'. If the ATKV is still perceived as something an ossewa [ox wagon] dragged over the Drakensberg, the campaign takes the Pendorings into a decidedly more modern era and away from its sometimes apologetic (please don't skeep my af) campaign themes.
Parow (real name Zander Tyler), along with Die Antwoord, has been taking Afrikaans in a whole new creative direction, according to Draftfcb senior copywriter Morné Strydom, who helped create the campaign.
"Jy dink jy's cooler as ekke,/ want jy hang saam met models en ek hang saam met slette/ Jy dink jy's cooler as ekke/ want ek's 'n rapper en jy sing in falsette," Parow raps in his hit 'Cooler as Ekke.' The song and Parow's zef image is very much part of the campaign style.
Strydom says the campaign taps into the new energy Afrikaans rappers have been bringing to the language (and culture).
A viral video campaign is being launched alongside the posters, in which Parow will give an original rap performance on the merits of using Afrikaans and cool in one sentence. He will eventually round off the campaign with a guest appearance at the awards show, scheduled to take place at Vodaworld in Midrand, Gauteng, on 29 October 2010.
Reading up on Parow, I noticed an exchange between two music journalists, Elbé van Heerden and Carryn-Ann Nel, discussing in JIP a Parow gig that took place earlier this year. "Deesdae is dit nie meer vreemd om sommer girls te hoor praat van daai p-woord op straat nie," writes van Heerden. "Dis die Jack Parow-revolusie. Hy het tieners en vroue bevry om te praat soos hulle wil."
Or possibly Afrikaans artists and music labels are simply catching up with where their target market have been for some years, with the Pendorings hot on their heels. It's about time.
Became a Section 21 company
In a move to professionalise the awards, the Pendorings recently reorganised to become a Section 21 (not-for-profit) company, an essential stepping stone towards becoming a fully fledged and credible creative award show. The process got under way in 2008, when the organisers realised the awards had grown from 'project' status to a real business, according to Klerck.
In a bid to underscore its creative credentials in the industry, the Creative Circle has also successfully been approached to endorse the awards. As a result of this endorsement, all future award results will be properly verified by an independent auditor. Entries should preferably have been conceptualised in Afrikaans, although translated work isn't automatically disqualified, according to Klerck. Work need to have been run or flighted at least once. Entries open today, Friday 4 June, and close 23 August. Judging will take place in September. Klerck says the Pendorings won't implement rule changes to discourage pro-active work.
Attracting the interest of marketers will be the free advertising space valued at R2.5 million awarded to the winning brand behind the Pendoring Prestige Prize. The free advertising space/air time will run in Afrikaans media, including SABC Radio, Media24, relevant Ramsay Media and Caxton publications, among others.
Klerck says the awards are a great networking opportunity for ad agencies. Finalists often take their clients to the gala for its three-course meal and entertainment. Last year;s show was a success (it received around 320 entries from 50 agencies), attracting some 650 guests, and that no complaints were received (even as Draftfcb walked away with award after award) that evening, according to Klerck.
Too much focus
Some of the sponsors did, however, feel that the Truly SA category received too much focus with three Golds, and that it shifted some of the focus away from Afrikaans advertising, which has lead the organisers to implement stricter rules for awarding Gold in this category but also across the board.
The Truly SA category, along with Radio, has seen growth in terms of the number of entries, with Truly SA totalling around 80 entries. TV and Outdoor, however, have shown a decline, according to Klerck.
Klerck admits that the awards should be more active on community level, for instance by participating in cultural festivals, but admits that limited budgets have prevented such engagement to date. It has implemented an award it calls 'Mense se Doring' in which consumers will be able to vote for their favourite Afrikaans ad campaign of the last decade.
Another issue remains the limited judging pool the award organisers choose to draw from.
While Klerck maintains that the show draws on only the best Afrikaans creatives in the country, it does mean the same faces appear on the judging panel year after year. Judges are asked to excuse themselves from judging categories in which their own work is entered and any perception that 'you need to be a judge to win' or that the awards operate on a 'buddy buddy' system is unfounded, she says, noting that the organisers have worked hard to counter such misconceptions. Klerck argues that by attracting highly awarded and well-known creatives as judges it increases the prestige associated with winning a Pendoring.
Pretty good start
Jack Parow isn't going to make Afrikaans cool or save Afrikaans marketers. "Ek's original/ jy's gecopy/ ek's 'n flash drive/ jy's 'n floppy," raps Parow. It's fun, it's funny. It's hardly defining a generation or a community ("poes" and "piel" didn't suddenly enter the vocabulary with the emergence of Parow, you know, and Die Son got there first, in any case). But if the Pendorings, and Afrikaans marketers, can talk like the artists who talk like the people, it's a pretty good start.
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Nou wat nou?-
Ek verstaan nie so lekker hoe daar gesny word aan Afrikaanse reklame as daar soveel koopkrag in Afrikaanse beursies is nie? Die Beeld, Afrikaanse se grootste dagblad, het onlangs die punt duidelik gemaak met hul beskerming van die persepsies verbonde aan Afrikaans (en hul koerant) deur 'n fyn uitgewerkte strategie vorendag te bring waar slegs sogenoemde luukse handelsname met die koerant, en dus die taal, geassosieer word. Beeld-lesers het die derde hoogste huishoudelike inkomste in die land, net agter die Business Day en The Mercury.Maar noudat ons almal in die openbaar kan poes-vloek en quarts drink kom die res van die land agter dat Afrikaans terug is met 'n moerse zef bang. So, as ek myself nou hier reg orienteer het ons aan die eenkant van die taalveld 'n luukse benadering wat die koopkrag van Afrikaans teiken, en aan die ander kant 'n krullers-en-hakke zef benadering wat die res van die veld bedek. Dis lankal nie meer net 'n Afrikaanse mark nie - dis 'n diverse mark wat net soveel analise en ontleding verdien as enige ander, maar tog word dit afgeskeep en benodig ons geleenthede soos die Pendorings om die taal aan die gang te hou - nie dat ek gekant is teen die Pendorings nie. Hopelik kan Afrikaans nou 'n comeback maak, want Afrikaans is poes woes!!