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November 29, 2023

Silverback Awards: Shining a spotlight on advertising

They sit in office from 7:00am (or earlier). Office, I mean, large spaces with colourful graffiti and a rusty bicycle hanging jealously on the wall and a set of awards they’ve won in the past, and powerful statements made by random ad men and their agency taglines. They sit in there with cups of coffee warming their palms, hearts racing, minds pacing, and fingers hovering over their MacBooks as they try to beat a deadline or a hangover or both. The client presentation is in 30 minutes. Panic ensues. A deck needs to be cleaned up. A billboard needs to be mocked up. Where are the strategy slides? And digital? Where the hell is digital, guys?

They are called ad men and women.

They sit in coffee shops. Or neighbourhood bufundas pushing a cold one. Alone. Or with a friend. And brainstorming about the upcoming tier one job. Ideas are tossed on the wall. Nothing sticks. They try again in the morning. They scribble on their iPads or dog-eared books, or in the air, mumbling to themselves, cursing, and twirling invisible words. They write a headline. They write headlines. Nothing makes sense. They shorten the headlines. Will the client like this? No. Will the creative director like it? Eh, there’s a typo. They re-write it. It’s been a week now. Nothing holds water, except their cup.

They are called ad men and women.

They open illustrator on their large computers. They have been tasked to design a campaign from scratch, brick by brick. To marry words with art. To mockup a billboard in Gulu and street poles in Mbale. Internal review is on Friday and pressure, like they say, is getting ‘worser’. They have combed the internet for inspiration but it’s all gray. They ping pong ideas with the senior art director, but he’s busy on TikTok or petting his own baboon. They are now left at sea, alone, in the vast openness of lame ideas. An email pings in. “Guys, how far with the deck?”

They are called ad men and women.

There’s this chaotic Tweep (hell, how are they called in these days of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Elon Musk). He’s tweeted about a brand. He’s dragging it in mud and internet hyenas are jumping on it, tearing it apart like a rotting zebra. The client has hit the table and wants that mess cleaned up before bigger suits in Asia pull the rag. The image must be cleaned. A meeting is called. No. Meetings are called. Phone calls are made. A plan is hatched. The chaotic tweep’s hands are oiled. The tweet is pulled down. The tweep is happy. The client is happier. The PR team is the happiest.

They are called ad men and women.

They aren’t doctors. They aren’t teachers. They aren’t lawyers. They aren’t gynecologists or farmers or meat sellers (eh). They are folks working in darkness so that brands can shine. They are content creators working behind the scenes so that masses can pick a product off supermarket shelves. They are god’s favourite children because, well, they co-create. They disrupt. They are MAAD about marketing. They blow fireworks at every win. They run this metropolitan. They worship their creative zeus.

These ad men and women were awarded over the weekend in the Silverback Awards. These were the winners.

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