It was a night that had almost everything: surprisingly loud and seemingly dangerous explosions; a fair bit of rowdiness from the 2degrees/TBWA tables; a hilarious mad scientist poking fun at everyone; strange glowing beakers; an array of confusing acronyms; polite clapping; attentive listening; and prodigious amounts of inter-company sexy dancing as big names from big and small Kiwi companies got dolled up for last night's TVNZ-NZ Marketing awards at the Langham Hotel in Auckland. And the general consensus was that the quality of the winning work was world-class and that the awards themselves just keep on improving.
The theme of the night was the Science of Marketing and DNA design and the always ridiculously well-organised NZMA boffins did a fantastic job bringing that theme to life (and all with very little cheese-factor). Te Radar, resplendent in a butcher's apron, safety gloves that went past the elbow and a weird set of goggles, was an inspired choice as MC. Having a hairy, rather excitable, self-deprecating chap who's all about sustainability hosting an awards ceremony recognising Kiwi companies that employed 'the work of the devil' to sell more of their stuff made for a rather entertaining juxtaposition. It could have been a fairly tough crowd, and it could've got ugly, but he made a very good-natured mockery of the industry, himself and even the stern Xena-esque NZ Post-mistress known to most as Fiona Woolley, which seemed to go down an absolute treat with everyone there (as evidenced by the fact that he was mobbed by adoring fans and dragged to the dancefloor afterwards).
It would be hard for any of the close to 500 attendees to disagree with the judges about 2degrees. It's basically the Cinderella story of New Zealand's marketing world at the moment. And the TBWA/2degrees tables were certainly in full voice as that impressive performance was acknowledged with three gongs, including the big one, the Fairfax Media Supreme Award. Te Radar also thanked them for ruining his life, because a number of New Zealanders think it's him starring in the ads. And in a strange twist, Vincent Heeringa, NZ Marketing's John Cleese-esque publisher, also looks like Rhys Darby. It was also Heeringa's idea to let off the seemingly life-threatening pyrotechnics when each winner was announced, which, remarkably, didn't lead to a flaming inferno but did make Te Radar jump a few feet in the air every time they went off.
Enlight Photo's Anna-Claire Clendon, the rookie marketer of the year (and cover star of the just released edition of NZ Marketing) thanked the organisers for rewarding young marketers in very small companies like hers, as well as the thousands of photographers around the world who bought the Orbis ring flash. She also promised everyone at table 15 an Ibiza cruise on the super yacht she'll presumably soon be purchasing after she's poached by one of the marketing big wigs watching on with glee from the shadows.
There was one interesting choice from the judges, however. Adam Maxwell was handed the marketer of the year mantle and while there's no doubt the business results his work led to were impressive (particularly the Woodstock sponsorship of the Tua Vs Cameron fight), more than a few people mentioned the fact that Independent Liquor, which has traditionally focused on the RTD market, isn't really renowned as a particularly responsible alcohol company. And, with the spotlight currently firmly placed on how much of an impact alcohol marketing is having on New Zealand's binge drinking culture and whether industry self-regulation is the right answer, having Maxwell and Independent Liquor held up as a shining light did seem to ruffle a few feathers.
There was no doubt about the induction of Auckland University's associate professor of marketing Richard Brookes into the Marketing Hall of Fame, however. He delivered an inspirational speech on how important it is to keep challenging yourself and how marketers needed to find a way to face up to the biggest issue currently faced by the industry: that consumers don't really trust brands, companies and organisations anymore. And as Te Radar quipped as the new hall of famer wandered back to his seat, maybe winning this accolade will mean he'll finally be upgraded to "actual professor", rather than mere associate.
Consumers obviously trust the New Zealand Honey Co. It's is growing at 995 percent and the crowd-favourite took out the new (and apparently very popular) Export Marketing Award. As far as the agencies go, the three awards picked up by 2degrees will be some much-needed good news for TBWA\ after this year's ASB-related annus horribilis. And Colenso also performed pretty well, taking home a couple of awards for Frucor's V Rocket Man campaign and Whiskas Dry catfood.
Overall, the 2010 edition was refreshingly quick, extremely entertaining and, overall, very successful. Hearty thanks to all the generous sponsors. And hearty congratulations to all the winners and finalists. You can read about the winners and marvel at their facts and figures at the NZ Marketing Awards website or in the latest edition of NZ Marketing. And for the voyeurs among you, you can also check out the hot babes and studly hunks from the night at www.dna.co.nz/magallery or a few more event shots from Getty Images.