Statement from the Digital Media & Marketing Association on the disqualification of all MetropolitanRepublic Loeries awards

The DMMA, which participates as a member of the Loeries Committee, commends the Loeries Board on its clear and courageous decision to disqualify MetropolitanRepublic’s 2013 awards after irregularities were found with their MTN ‘Project Uganda’ entry.

Whilst no specifics were cited in the official Loeries’ release, it is fair to assume that the board would not have taken this decision unless there were serious problems with the entry and its claims to have flighted and/or impacted the social good – a key criteria in the Ubuntu Award category for which they won gold.

As campaigns become more intrinsically technological in their execution it’s increasingly difficult for judges to differentiate between science fiction and fact.

We live in an age where the impossible is made possible every day. Tweet-powered cars, 3D printed guns and glasses that overlay the internet on everyday life are just three examples of things that sounded like fantasy ten years ago, and exist today. The remarkable creativity of digital agencies in South Africa and around the world continues to amaze and astound consumers.

Due to time, resource and expertise constraints, industry awards such as the Loeries rely on their entrants to be honest in their claims and provide detailed evidence to support their achievements.

When dishonesty or exaggeration are uncovered, it is for the integrity and continued good standing of the awards to make it clear that just because something can be imagined does not mean that it can be done. As we move into an ever more complex and confusing digital world, keeping this line clear is critical to the continued credibility of the industry awards in general and the Loeries in particular.

We encourage all of our members – and indeed any agency entering digital awards – to do so responsibly and truthfully. This incident damages corporate South Africa’s already fragile faith in digital marketing campaigns and risks them turning their spend back toward traditional media, which is perceived as a safe bet.