Loeries Creative Week Durban

#Loeries2016: The power of partnerships in brand building

I spent some time with Bridget Harpur, brand manager of brand marketing for Volkswagen SA during Loeries® Creative Week™ Durban to discuss the importance of trust and partnerships in building great brands.

Nurock: Why are the Loeries important to VW?

Bridget Harpur
Harpur: The Loeries is an event marketing exercise, so it is a way of seeing what is benchmarking in the industry and of seeing creative excellence and then trying to better or equal them. We are also always trying to be fresh, current and relevant, so this is just a great way of us seeing what other industries are doing and what other motor brands are doing and to try and improve on that. Much like the fashion industry, where you would go onto the catwalks and see what is cutting edge, looking at the fashion that you would never see in the retailers, that's how I would equate it.

Nurock: What did you think of the work this year?

Harpur: Sadly, I was not familiar with a lot of the work and we found it quite strange that there is so much international work. It would be nice to see more stuff coming from South Africa. But what is interesting year after year is that the more traditional ideas seem to be taking a back seat. Much more innovative, new – anything that involves technology. So anything that has a corporate social responsibility angle and anything that is using digital media in an innovative way seems to be what the judges are looking for and also what stands out for consumers.

Nurock: Certainly that was the key trend that came up at Cannes, the impact of technology. But technology is nothing without a big idea.

Harpur: Yes, you can’t do digital for digital’s sake and the other thing that we’re working towards now is to make sure that it’s always integrated into a big idea. So an idea always has to lead, and that is what Ogilvy is famous for, having a big idea. I mean that is also with a capital ‘B’ and a capital ‘I’. That’s always been their mantra, even since I was working there a million years ago. So as long as there is an idea it should be able to permeate through all channels. A couple of years ago we were doing digital for digital’s sake because it was new and it was current, but now we are trying to do digital as part of an integrated idea. And at the end of the day, if it’s not changing people’s lives, it’s irrelevant.

Nurock: I agree with you. Big brands need to try have a higher purpose of doing things to change people’s lives.

Harpur: Absolutely. I have got a passion for CSR work so whenever there is something that has got that kind of angle it really touches me and it’s kind of what drives me. Especially, as you say, big brands. I mean it’s part of our responsibility to do stuff that changes lives. Particularly for us now, following a global PR scandal, we have to do good. We have to reconnect.

Nurock: How did that scandal affect you in South Africa?

Harpur: Fortunately for us Volkswagen is a very loved brand, so I think South Africans are very forgiving. We were quite lucky. We haven’t walked away unscathed but we are working hard to make sure that customers stay with the brand.

Nurock: VW did very well at Loeries this year. You must be thrilled?

Harpur: Yes, we are really ecstatic with our performance. We have not won in TV for a while so those awards were really significant. In fact, we won awards right across the board at VW so everyone is really happy. For example, in my division we won:
  • Bronze TV commercials and Cinema for On the Road.
  • Craft Certificate Direction for On the Road
  • And of course the Gold in Effective Creativity for The Uber UP! Test Ride
Our Commercial Vehicles and Group Parts also won a host of awards:
  • Campaign Bronze in Digital Integrated Campaign for Social Test Drive.
  • Bronze in Digital and Interactive, Online Advertising for Dancing
  • Bronze in Tactical Use of Newspaper for Wives
  • Campaign Bronze in Internet Commercials forTechnically, Dog & Dancing.
  • Bronze in Internet Videos for Amarok Social Test Drive Episode 4.
  • Silver in Integrated Campaign for Social Test Drive
Audi South Africa got Gold in Indoor Posters for the Crumple Zones campaign: School Boy, Ballerina, Soccer Star.

Nurock: That’s a pretty impressive performance. You’ve mentioned that VW has been with Ogilvy for 37 years and you are still doing amazing campaigns. I love hearing stories like that because so often clients chop and change agencies

Harpur: As we've been with Ogilvy for 37 years, the relationship isn’t owned by one singular person. Our time in the business may be short but the relationship has been going on before we were around and will continue to carry on after we've left. So that is quite special and it’s quite unique for the industry. And I think everybody in the Volkswagen business is aware that Ogilvy helped build the brand in South Africa, and that isn’t an overplay. I know a lot of brands might try and claim that and I think it’s a stretch in many instances, but in our case it is 100% true that the Volkswagen brand was built in South Africa jointly with Ogilvy.

Nurock: What do you think is the most important aspect of your relationship with Ogilvy?

Harpur: Because there has been this long tenure, there is a lot of trust between us and the agency. They will come up with these completely crazy, ridiculous ideas, and we choose to go with them because we trust them with our brand. And you know, you win some, lose some. Sometimes ideas just don’t land but a lot of ideas are born out of these crazy ideas and if we didn’t trust them we wouldn’t go with them.
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About Ann Nurock

A former CEO of Grey South Africa and President/CEO of Grey Canada, Ann Nurock is now the Africa Partner of Relationship Audits and Management, a global consultancy specialising in the measurement, risk mitigation and optimisation of B2B relationships. Contact details: | Twitter @Annnurock