Good evening everyone.
Do you know that it’s my birthday tomorrow?
Is this a birthday present or have I really earned it?
I’m still a bit stunned if I’m brutally honest.
I think I’ve always hoped I’d be deemed worthy of this recognition, but now that I have it I find myself somewhat disbelieving.
I took a look at the list of legends that have won this before me and I’m genuinely in awe that I’m sharing this accolade with them.
So, thank you to those who nominated me. Thank you to those who ratified this. And thank you Xolisa for delivering this extraordinary news to me.
I’ve had that Irene Cara song in my head all morning. “Fame, I’m gonna live forever…”
I remember my very first Loerie awards back in 1989 at Sun City. I watched my creative director at the time write down the names of some of the creatives that were collecting awards, but not others. So, I leant over and asked him why.
His answer was very simple.
“Anyone can do that ad” he said. “It has a very low degree of difficulty”.
“But that other ad, that’s a damn good solution to a really tough brief”.
And that’s when I learned that not all awards are equal. And not all prizes earn you respect.
And I carried that lesson through my years as a copywriter. Through my years as a CD. And into King James where it’s the cornerstone of our creative ethos.
Making great advertising on really challenging brands is the only way I know how to build a credible reputation.
It’s the only way I know how to make marketers respect and value what we do. And it’s the only way I know how to make a dull category competitive.
If I make a great ad on my client, I want nothing more than for your agency to make a better one on their competitor, so that I have to come back at you with a better one still.
That’s how we raise our game.
That kind of rivalry is good for us.
It’s good for our business.
It’s good for creativity.
And it’s very good for our clients.
For me there is absolutely nothing more satisfying, than doing spectacular advertising on a client no one really expects it from.
There has never been a more important time for agencies in our industry to fundamentally make a difference to the bottom line of our clients’ businesses, and not just the sexy, already-award winning clients, but the clients that haven’t yet tasted the intoxicating joy of being a great advertising brand.
The transformation of previously disadvantaged brands - that’s my mission. It always will be. And I’d like to believe that philosophy may have played a part in me receiving this tonight.
I also noticed that, with the exception of maybe one previous recipient of this, every Hall of Famer started their own agency. And I think that’s quite interesting.
It suggests to me that the winners of this aren’t necessarily self-made, and I’d have to agree with that.
People like me shamelessly feed off the blood, sweat and tears of the many great people around us, and I’ve had the privilege of having so many great people around me.
I’ve had creative directors that have picked me up by the throat and raised me to their creative level just by being intimidating or by setting impossibly high standards.
I’ve had people that have raised me with every great idea they’ve put on the table.
And I have had people that have raised me simply by not pushing me down.
This is dangerous territory listing specific people. There are so many. So, I am going to dodge that bullet by simply mentioning three.
To my partner James Barty, thank you for giving me the space and support to become the tricky, cantankerous and uncompromising creative that I’ve become. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.
To my creative side-kick and Cape Town ECD, Devin Kennedy, who has stood alongside me for 20 years making so many of our great ads, I’m sorry I once called you a tractor with a flat tyre. I meant to say you have attractive attire – it just came out wrong. But Dev, you are a legend in your own right.
And to my wife who bears the greatest brunt of what this industry can do to us creatives - thank you for rolling with my moods, which are so indelibly linked to my day at the office.
To everyone at King James Group, and my creative partners in particular – Matt, Dan, Jenny, Rob and Graeme - you have my undying love, respect and gratitude for all you’ve done to put me up here.
And finally, to the Creative Circle, who’s relationship status with me is nearly always on the setting ‘It’s complicated’, I thank you for this from the bottom of my heart. It means everything to me. The highlight of my career in fact.
Thank you all.
And good luck tonight.