Andrew Human. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS
Andrew Human. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS

Entry for this year’s Loeries is open, with a call for agencies, studios, brands and designers to tell better stories – stories that upend stereotypes, tear down racial divides, and embrace cultural differences. Mama Creative, the newly appointed PR agency for the Loeries, spoke with Loeries CEO Andrew Human about his belief in the power of the creative industry to shape the way we see the world, and tell a better story for humanity.

Why is the Loeries committed to telling better stories?

People don’t realise the incredible power of the creative industry. We inform opinions and create impressions. The reality we present has massive repercussions. This incredible power comes with responsibility. The Loeries is committed to driving the industry to use this power for good.

Everyone in the creative and brand communications industry should look at whether they are leading society for the better or reinforcing common negative stereotypes. We need to question the imagery we use, the way we portray people, and the language we use. To upend negative stereotypes, we need to be visionary and not reactive. There are many better stories just waiting to be told.

Will this not lead us to a vanilla, politically correct narrative that lacks authenticity and believability? Or, perhaps worse, perch the industry on the moral high ground – preaching to the masses?

The lifeblood of our industry is creativity and innovation. As we upend negative stereotypes and age-old narratives, we need to be more innovative than ever. Yes, we need to question our language choices, make sure we are inclusive, transformational and locally relevant, but this cannot be all we bring to the table. It would be disastrous if the sole intention is not to offend anyone. As always, it is our job to break the rules. We need to provoke and poke. Use humour and catch people off-guard, challenge and offend them. We need to be sharp, funny, innovative and thought-provoking – always. I honestly believe the Loeries can help to make us better at what we do. It’s too easy to follow the stereotype. A new and inclusive narrative that is locally relevant and culturally nuanced opens up a whole new world for innovation.

This is all encapsulated in the Loeries’ vision to tell better stories. Real stories, inclusive stories, locally and culturally relevant stories – but better stories.

How do we tell better stories across Africa and the Middle East?  

For over 40 years, the Loeries has been pushing, championing and sharing creativity and innovation. We need to upend the narrative that innovation comes from the West. It is our job as an industry to change the stereotypes of Africa and the Middle East. There are over 2,000 languages across the region. We gave the world irrigation, organised religion, hospital emergency rooms and the understanding that the world revolves on its own axis. That is our story, or just the tip of it, and it is our mandate to continue telling it.

Who is telling better stories?

Many brands have stepped up. A great case in point is Carling Black Label, telling a better story about alcohol and gender violence. Nike telling better stories about women in sport. Nissan changing perceptions about women driving in Saudi Arabia.

Are there any new developments we can expect at the Loeries this year?

Absolutely. One of the exciting developments is the broadening of our design category. We’ve opened the design awards to include all aspects of design – retail design like furniture, lighting and fabric design, industrial design, interior design and architecture, as well as all elements of traditional graphic design. Nando’s has come on board as our design category partner – it is a brilliant example of a brand that uses local design as an integral part of its brand. It works closely in developing and nurturing the local design industry, ensuring each new store is filled with inspiring local art and design. It has changed the conversation, replacing cookie-cutter mass designs with individual and inspiring local design. What’s more is that Nando’s has democratised art and design, making it readily available for everyone. Nando’s lives a better story. 

Lastly, how is the Loeries, as a brand, telling better stories?

My core belief is that real change comes through youth and with education. The earlier we start to shift the narrative, the greater the impact we can have. If we could, we would start in grade 1! That’s why we have worked so hard over the past 10 years on our Creative Future Scholarship, which brings talented youngsters from disadvantaged communities into the industry – giving them a life-changing opportunity while developing our future creative leaders. 

The question I challenge everyone to ask themselves is: what value did we add to our region, our country, our community or the stakeholders we serve? What change did we create? What is your better story?