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Barnes, Catmur & Friends Dentsu (aka Friends Electric) claims the BOTAB crown

It has absolutely nothing to do with advertising, but every year agencies from across the industry descend on the Kings Arms for a night of noise.

This year didn’t disappoint. It was everything you’d want from a gig: loud, crowded and energetic with a touch of Backstreet Boys. And for a collection of part-time time musicians, who rarely have time for a non-desk lunch, let alone to practise their tunes, the quality of the performances was unexpectedly good.   

Last night was the ninth edition of BOTAB and six agency bands competed: Fish Emoticon from Flying Fish, Serenading Shirley from FCB, The Orphanage from Whybin\TBWA, Friends Electric from Barnes, Catmur & Friends Dentsu, The Strands from Saatchi & Saatchi, and Pegasus and The Job Numbers from Colenso BBDO.

There could, however, only be one winner. And after all the performances, event emcee (a very sweaty) Mikey Havoc, from Hauraki, took to stage to declare Friends Electric from Barnes, Catmur & Friends Dentsu the winning band.

A massive cheer erupted from the Dentsu Aegis Network, to which Havoc responded: “Well, at least that group is happy.”

Friends Electric’s victory wasn’t altogether surprising. With Barnes, Catmur managing partner Daniel Barnes taking centre stage, the band put on an infectious performance, which pulled in the crowd and had them clapping along.

Barnes’ broad smile throughout the three-song set made it seem as though advertising was a second choice and that the stage was really where he wanted to be.

The judging panel—consisting of Jason Faafoi (of cult classic kids TV show, What Now), Brandon Lela’ulu (the favourite maître d’ of Prego), and Georgia Cubbon (Radio Hauraki)—commented on the fact that Friends Electric clearly knew what they were doing.

The judges also commended the crew from Fish Emoticon, who again put on a very polished performance, earning the runner-up position for their efforts.

Last year’s winner Pegasus and the Job Numbers may not have repeated their success this year, but the band didn’t walk away empty handed, winning the ‘best-dressed band’ award. And they certainly did look on point, with matching suits and colour-coded styles.

Pegasus and the Job Numbers do however need to control their fans, who engaged in some aggressive littering by letting off a confetti cannon. As Tangible Media editorial director Ben Fahy said: “Confetti is like glitter. It’s basically the herpes of the craft world.”

That said, it was the closest anyone in the audience of us had ever come to the feeling of winning the Champions League.

The prize for the best individual performer went to Saatchi & Saatchi’s Kieran Anderson, whose animated eyebrows mesmerised everyone in the audience, including the judges.

The theme for this year’s edition was Boy vs Girl bands, and the enthusiasm of the audience in signing along to any Backstreet Boys cover indicated a healthy presence of ’90s kids.

For now, the guitars will be placed back into their cases and the rock gods across adland will go back into hibernation for another year. But rest assured, come September next year, the noise will again be unleashed, this time for the tenth anniversary of advertising’s biggest event that has nothing to do with ads. 

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