Loeries, Cannes: How Nigerian Agencies Can Win More International Awards


By Tunji Faleye

One of Nigeria’s sectors that has been performing well in many international award competitions is the creative advertising industry. Over the years, advertising agencies have been winning awards based on different creative works they have been churning out to create awareness for their clients. From African Cristal, to Epical awards and many others, Nigerian agencies had won quite a numbers of awards and proved their mettles among other elite agencies. 

However, despite winning at the aforementioned award platforms, Nigerian agencies have not won any laurel at Cannes Lions Festivals in France which is regarded as the World Cup for recognizing creativities in advertising industry.  Also, the country’s agencies have not won any major medal at the Loeries Creative Awards in Durban, South Africa.

Apart from Up In The Sky’s ‘Closed – A Short Film’ that won Bronze at Loeries 2018 for its effective communication and great impact with about 30 second film produced which is a Short Film crafted for 9mobile (Etisalat) to promote Etisalat Prize for Literature, O2 Academy was another Nigerian representative that picked bronze award in the Student-Facebook Challenge category at the #Leories2018 awards in Durban. The trio of Chimdi, Yemi and Alicia, all students of O2 Academy Lagos won the award based on the creativity of their work, “Give a Soap” which they crafted for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Cresent Society (IFRC) for their Cholera campaign. Other agencies that attended Loeries that year came back to the country disappointed.

It will also be recalled that 7even Interactive emerged the only agency not only in Nigeria but across the West African sub-region to pick an award at the 2017 edition of the Loeries.

Sadly, all the agencies and creative school that entered Loeries in 2019 came back to the country empty handed. The only consolation was that Noah’s Ark and X3M Ideas are the only agencies whose works made it to the final shortlist at this year’s Loeries Creative Week.

In the Student Category, Nigeria’s O2 Academy gave a good showing, getting five different works shortlisted in the process. Its short film, Ounje Ale (night food or dinner) got shortlisted in the Online Film, Short Film & Music Videos sub category. ‘Safe Place,’ its innovative advocacy campaign against depression for Real Visionaries Initiative got shortlisted in the Out of Home sub category of the Student category of the awards. But that was how far all the works could go.

The Cannes Lion Festivals itself has been a learning place for the Nigerian Creative agencies as they have failed year in – year out to be shortlisted let alone winning a medal despite a long years of attendance which has become more or less a visit to escape from pressure and boredom at home.

For any agency to win at Cannes Lions and also win gold at the Loeries awards, agencies in this clime need to take seriously how to package, and how to enter for awards at international levels. This is necessary because many have argued that the creative works coming out of Nigeria are not the problem per se, but the ways these awards are packaged and submitted for awards and the motive behind them.

Interestingly, for any Nigerian agencies to win awards the following factors need to be seriously put into special considerations, because it is imperative that agencies need to define why they want to enter a set of awards and what their businesses could get out of it.

While some businesses simply want to be shortlisted so they can network and talent-spot at the awards, others want to reward staff with a great night out. Being shortlisted for an award can be a brilliant way to market to existing and potential clients – and of course, no one would mind winning!

To win at the major awards agencies have to take note of the following Tips:

Never Underestimate The Time Factor

In other climes good award entry can take 4-6 weeks to put together. This allows enough time for initial fact-finding meetings, several versions of the entry form and presumes you will need a few different people to look at it and sign it off. Really the more time you have the better. Nigerian agencies have to eschew the habit of just packaging their works for mere participation. Entry for award is a serious business and should be taken as such.

Tell Your Story In Clear Terms

Agencies also have to figure out their story perfectly. It must have a beginning, a middle and an end, and is probably a tale of something being improved. Those who will package it have to ensure that they can tell the story simply so that the judges will be able to instantly understand what they are trying to put across. Remember, judges may come from different backgrounds- countries, industries. That is the more reason they have to make it simple and clear. Also, be sure to explain any context which makes your story important – perhaps there’s a big change on the horizon for your sector or new legislation which changes things. All these have to be put in proper perspectives.

Look For The Great Work That Could Win An Award

Always be on the look-out for great examples from your organisation on which you could base an award. If you have defined why you want to win one you will probably have an idea of which awards and which categories you want to enter. This is why agencies need to focus their energy on finding the brilliant examples which fit the criteria for these. Also, it is important to look at the attributes of previous works that won awards in that categories in order to guide in choosing which work to enter.

There Is Need To Prove It

Why many agencies have not been able to win awards at the Cannes Lions boils down to the fact that they do not have adequate proof for their works. Agencies could tell a story to rival a great work which is regarded as magnum opus, but if there is no evidence it’s highly unlikely the work make it through to the shortlist. Think carefully about how you can prove your claims and look at both the qualitative and quantitative metrics you could use. Interestingly too, customer testimonials can have great impact. That is the reason agencies should not forget to ask a few of their clients for a couple of sentences about their business or the project you are entering for the award. Perhaps, this may be the contribution that will serve as clue to the judges to understand the work better.

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