The Loerie Awards is seen as one of South Africa�s glitziest, creative and vital industry awards events. We chatted to CEO Andrew Human about his role in this annual event and his feeling about the 2009 ceremony, to be screened on Top Billing, just before he headed to Cape Town for the event.

Andrew Human
And, with the glitter of September weekend not yet quite settled, we also take a somewhat tongue-in-cheek look at what really happened��. click here to go to The Lure of the Loeries � where to next?

As background for those who don�t know much about them, The Loerie Awards is internationally recognised and is the only award endorsed by the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA), the Creative Circle (CC), the South African Graphic Design Council (Think), the Commercial Producers Association (CPA), the Digital Forum, and the Communication & Advertising Forum for Empowerment (Cafe).

The 2009 Loeries Awards, held in Cape Town this year, pay tribute to the quality of advertising in Africa. First held in 1978, as a mechanism to support and grow television advertising, the Loeries have been expanded to encompass every area of brand communication including radio and print advertising, design, architecture, direct marketing, non-broadcast video, live events, and digital media. The awards are now regionally focused on Africa and the Middle East, and only entries from this region are eligible.

In Focus: How long have you headed up the Loeries?
Human: Well, since 2005 when I took over from the Marketing Federation of Southern Africa (MFSA) who had being running the Loeries until the end of 2004. In 2005, the Loeries was set up as a section 21 company and I was the first CEO. Prior to this I had been in New York for five years, working in new media during the dot com boom period. The big thing at that time was e-business, which was all about transforming business, not just advertising, but all aspects of business. I am in fact an engineer by profession.

In Focus: Sounds quite un-related to awards ceremonies, how did you gravitate into this arena?
Human: While I was in New York I got involved in award shows and, in particular, into new ways to do awards - I was involved in shows such as the Andy Awards and did this for a couple of years. I was then approached by the Loeries to come back to South Africa and re-start the brand here. So I was able to export what I had learnt in the States to South Africa.

In Focus: The change of venue from Margate - how did this come about?
Human: In 2005 we moved from Sun City to Margate. We wanted to breathe a breath of fresh air into the awards. Margate seemed ideal and in fact worked very well. Accommodation, for instance, was all in the same area, and there was a certain �closeness' about the venue which worked really well. Margate was a big turnaround and the awards became a bigger brand � however, we wanted to build the brand and after four years, the limitations of the venue became apparent. Everything had to be trucked in, while we needed to start building and setting up a month before the event and, of course, Margate airport is only for light planes, Durban airport is a long way away, and will be further away when it moves to the North.

In Focus: The choice of Cape Town?
Human: We put the Awards out to tender from a venue point of view last year, and Cape Town was the best all-round offering � and of course the Good Hope Centre is amazing. We have increased the seating capacity to 2 500 which is a 20% increase on the previous year and we are sold out. We initially only planned for 2 300 seats, but as the demand grew we went up another 200. I must say I never thought it would exceed
2 500.

In Focus: Are you considering other venues?
Human: It will be in Cape Town for the next three years and will then go out to tender again. Gauteng has been discussed, and we will look at a longer term plan for this.

In Focus: Have the number of entries changed at all?
Human: We are about 5% down on last year as far as entries are concerned - we were expecting a drop, but this isn�t as bad as we expected. Last year we had a record number of entries and times are a bit tougher this year, so we are happy with the volume.

In Focus: Now read about what really happened this year... click here to go to The Lure of the Loeries � where to next?