Last month Ogilvy Johannesburg was awarded one of the highest honours at the 57th Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, winning a rare and coveted Cannes Gold Lion award in the Film category for its highly emotive campaign for HIV/Aids relief organisation The Topsy Foundation.

This is the first time in 11 years that a South African agency has won a Gold Cannes Film Lion - the most elite and challenging of all categories at the Festival. The last time gold touched our shores was in 1999, when Ogilvy picked up the accolade for its Eno antacid commercial. This win marks only the seventh Film Gold for a South African agency since the awards, often referred to as the Oscars of the advertising industry, were launched in 1954.

The winning ad features the true story of Selinah, an Aids sufferer who experiences the ravaging effects of her disease being reversed over a period of 90 days through the administration of anti-retrovirals (ARVs). Each day of her recovery was documented by the team, who witnessed Selinah's incredible metamorphosis over the three month period first hand.

The remarkable piece is one of many fundraising initiatives developed by Ogilvy and is testimony to the relationship between the agency and the Topsy Foundation that stretches back 10 years.

"Since the launch of the campaign earlier this year, we have seen an unprecedented influx of support from donors, and the number of patients requesting ARV treatment has also risen sharply," says Sylvia de Jager, Executive Director at the Topsy Foundation. "It is not often that campaigns make such a tangible difference in people's lives, and we are just so humbled that Selinah's story of hope and recovery has also captured the hearts of an international audience."

According to Ogilvy Johannesburg's Fran Luckin, Executive Creative Director, "The fact that a campaign that is so close to all our hearts has won Gold, unanimously voted by the judges and so positively received by the audience, is incredibly rewarding. This was a labour of love for all of us, and it wouldn't have been possible without the dedication of the production crew, who filmed Selinah every day for three months, and the commitment of the creative team who saw their vision literally come alive before their eyes."

The win comes on the back of a number of stellar performances by Ogilvy South Africa at Cannes in recent years. In 2007 and 2008, the agency was ranked the number one in the country, and at Cannes in 2009, was the most awarded Ogilvy agency in the world.

This year, Ogilvy Cape Town picked up a well-deserved Silver for their VW Crafter campaign for Volkswagen of South Africa and in addition to the Gold, Ogilvy Johannesburg also won Bronze Lions for Mnet and Exclusive Books. Mnet Channel O's 'Tree' execution, picked up a Bronze for Design. The second Bronze was awarded in the Outdoor category for Exclusive Books' 'Peep Holes' campaign.

"These awards are testament to the fact that South African creativity can compete with the best in the world," says Luckin. "We continue to be obsessed about liberating brands by producing great work that delivers great results."

You can view the winning piece, along with clips of the two bronze award winners, by clicking on the following links:

Topsy Foundation, Selinah: www.youtube.com
VWSA, VW Crafter: www.canneslions.com
M Net Channel O, Tree: www.canneslions.com Exclusive Books,
Madonna & Child(ren):www.canneslions.com