In contrast to the major advertising awards shows that are typified by large round tables, three-course meals and formal attire, the ORCA Awards, held last night at the Nathan Club in Auckland, was a stripped down affair.
Beyond a few vintage couches placed along the periphery of the room, there was no mandatory seating. The only items of food served were hors d'oeuvres, distributed throughout the course of the evening. And none of the attendees wore suits and ties, except for one over-dressed StopPress journalist that missed the casual dress-code memo.
From the moment emcee Alex Behan, from Hauraki, started speaking, it was evident that this wasn’t going to be a standard advertising awards event.
He immediately promised that the proceedings would be as short and punchy as 30-second radio ad and, while he had a script, his consistent stream of off-the-cuff observations, comments and quips served as testament to the improvisational knack that radio personalities often have in abundance.
Rather than featuring a comprehensive collection of awards listed in a series of sub-categories within even more sub-categories, the ORCAs only include two awards: the Grande ORCA, given to the best piece of work as chosen by the judges, and the People’s Choice Award, which is determined by votes from those in the industry.
The shortlist of finalists for these two awards were limited to six radio ads, which were each given some special treatment during the course of the night.
Instead of requiring the agencies to engage in self-back-tappery by creating elaborate entry videos dedicated to their campaigns, The Radio Bureau (which organises the ORCAs) commissioned a trio of radio personalities—Bryce Casey from the Rock, Guy Williams from the Edge and Dave Fane from Flava—to share their thoughts on each of the finalists.
The sometimes scathing, sometimes confusing opinions of this satirical panel were then compiled into a series of videos, which were played after each finalist was announced.
The first ad to be given a colourful analysis was FCB’s spot for AS Colour, which elaborated on why it was ill advised for non-surfers to wear surf-branded apparel.
After the video screened, Behan apologised to the audience, saying that the organisers had tried to interview the radio personalities before they were intoxicated but that they were only able to do the filming at four o’clock in the afternoon.
But the satire didn’t end there for FCB, as the agency was also nominated for the ‘Jelly-less Party’, which was executed for Gregg’s.
After this spot was played, all three radio ad analysts were left slightly confused and a little uncertain about how to respond to what they had just heard.
Clemenger BBDO’s ‘GPS vs Girlfriend’ spot for NZTA was the next finalist unveiled, and it was similarly chided by the panel.
Arguably the most controversial comment made by the comedians was when Casey said, “What was a woman doing driving? Wait, can I say that?”, a statement to which Behan replied, “only if you work for The Rock and live in the ‘80s. And no, you can’t say that.”
FCB won a trifecta of nominations, with the agency’s ‘Inside Voice’ spot for Brothers in Arms also getting the nod.
Of all the spots presented during the evening, this one evoked the greatest ire in Fane, who said that he found the sound effects of the marijuana being sucked in too unbelievable and that, as an actor, he was disappointed in the performance. Casey also weighed in on the spot, saying that the ad made him want to use the illicit substance. Williams, on the other hand, was baffled as to how a car stereo is shifted to mono.
Next, Colenso was acknowledged for keeping the Memphis Meltdown madness going with its ‘Sad Merman’ spot for Tip Top.
Casey was particularly disturbed by this spot, because of the depiction of the merman having to witness his mer-wife being eaten by a stranger.
The final nominee of the night was Y&R’s ‘A Meeting’ spot for Colgate Plax, which featured a pair of co-workers shouting at each other from afar in an effort to avoid bad breath.
When announcing the nomination, Behan pointed out that the creatives (Tom) Paine and (Carlos) Savage sounded like a frightening combination.
Once all six nominations had been announced, Behan called Simon Vicars and Brett Colliver to the stage to collect the People’s Choice award for their work on the 'Sad Merman' spot.
Given that the creative pair from Colenso were not present and that there was no one else from the agency available to collect the trophy on their behalf, Behan offered to hold onto to the $2,000 prize on their behalf. However, photographic evidence indicates that the organisers were eventually able to wrestle the prize free from Behan and present it to Colliver and Vicars.
The winner-shaped space on the stage was however filled when FCB’s creative duo of Kelly Lovelock and Hywel James were awarded with the Grande ORCA for their work on the ‘Jelly-less Party’ spot.
In keeping with the jovial atmosphere of the evening, Lovelock was heckled for repeating the same speech that he made when he won the award last year. After conceding that he may have borrowed some thoughts from the previous year’s speech, he started afresh, commenting on how fond he was of working in the medium.
Winning this ORCA will give the creative pair another unique trinket to add to their growing collection. Interestingly, the trophies handed out at the ORCAs are specially designed for the event each year, meaning that are always different.
For the last three years, artist Martin Horspool has been commissioned by the Radio Bureau to create the trophies for the annual event.
Last night, he explained to StopPress that he uses materials collected from antique stores, pawnshops and recycling depots to create the unique trophies for each event.
“This year, it was particularly difficult to let go of the trophy. I really liked the design and I would’ve liked to keep it to put on display in my house,” he said.
After the trophy was handed over to the FCB team, the attention of the crowd turned to the venue's other stage, where Kiwi acts Doprah, Jeremy Redmore, Lizzie Marvelly, Benny Tipene and Villainy each performed three-song sets.
- FCB (Freddie Coltart and Matt Williams) for AS Colour’s ‘Buy Blank’ ad
- FCB (Kelly Lovelock and Hywel James) for Gregg’s ‘Jelly-less Party’ ad
- Clemenger BBDO (Simon Wharton & James Burton) for NZTA’s ‘GPS vs Girlfriend’ ad
- FCB (Freddie Coltart and Matt Williams) for Brothers in Arms’ ‘Inside Voice’ ad
- Colenso BBDO (Simon Vicars and Brett Colliver) for Tip Top’s ‘Memphis Meltdown Sad Merman’ ad
- Y&R (Tom Paine and Carlos Savage) for Colgate Plax’s ‘A Meeting’ ad
- People's choice: Colenso BBDO's Simon Vicars and Brett Colliver
- Grande ORCA: FCB's Kelly Lovelock and Hywel James