media update’s Adam Wakefield spoke to Jerry Mpufane, chairperson of M&C Saatchi Abel and 2018 IAB SA Bookmarks Awards jury president, about the importance of digital in the advertising industry, and where South Africa measures up compared to their international peers.

What will the judges of The IAB Bookmark Awards be looking for this year, and can you give us a snap shot of how judging takes place?

The judges will be looking for big digital ideas and not just tag-on tactical work that’s part of just another campaign rollout. Our industry must succeed at digital, this channel being the most pervasive touchpoint available.

The Bookmarks runs a thorough process, applying world-class judging methods and systems. We have assembled a group of professionals from a variety of digital disciplines, and a lot of debate takes place before we award a piece of work. The industry can rest assured that a lot of rigour goes into the judging process, which is only fair considering the amount of investment agencies go into to prepare and enter The Bookmarks.

What major trends do expect to see from the submitted work, given its time and place within digital advertising’s evolution? 

I am looking forward to seeing some big digital ideas – ideas that are rooted in South Africa, both in terms of tone and relevance. We will reward work that can also compete at any international creative festival.

Where do you think South African digital advertising measures up compared to its African and global counterparts?

The South African creative industry has always punched above its weight at many international creative festivals. Our digital work must, however, still prove itself at that level. We must win in the categories that matter, especially where the creative festivals are focused on ideas that 'Change the World'. The South African creative industries have a unique opportunity to produce ideas that truly can impact humanity.   

You are taking over as jury president of the awards from John Dixon. Are you looking forward to the experience? What are your responsibilities as jury president? 

I am very excited about the opportunity to lead the Bookmarks judging. The digital aspect of our work is under the spotlight: Are we finally producing transformational ideas, work that is on the cutting edge, and which delivers real returns for the brand? 

My task is to drive a hard conversation among my fellow professionals, challenging ourselves and creating commentary on the work and, ultimately, rewarding big digital ideas that must compete on a global level.

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At the 2017 Bookmark Awards, Katlego Phatlane won the accolade for Best Digital Youngster, with Phatlane focusing on quality and influenced by 3D. Read more in our article, Bookmark’s best digital youngster: A Q&A with Katlego Phatlane.