For Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo winning awards is nothing new, but last week’s Financial Mail AdFocus Awards took him a little by surprise. Naidoo was awarded the Agency Leader of the Year Award and while Interactive Africa may not be considered a conventional agency, the award shows the significant impact Naidoo has made on the South African creative industries.
The annual Financial Mail AdFocus Awards rank all the advertising agencies in the country in a variety of sub categories and then present these awards at a gala event. This year’s awards, held at The Forum in Bryanston, saw Ogilvy Johannesburg being named Advertising Agency of the Year, as well as picking up two more awards – the Effective Advertising Award and African Agency Network of the Year. John Hunt, a guest speaker at Design Indaba 2006 and founder of TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris, was jointly awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award with business partner Reg Lascaris.
Although Interactive Africa is not an ad agency, Naidoo’s contribution and leadership in the design industry has catapulted the design scene forward in South Africa in ways that could not have been foreseen when Design Indaba was first started in 1995. Naidoo modestly admits this award is not just for him, but also for Design Indaba itself and the people who make it happen. What started as a biennial event is now an annual event which attracts over 30 international speakers, 2 500 conference delegates, 260 exhibitors and 29 000 expo visitors who not only talk about design but live it, challenge it and, most importantly, create it.
To those that know and work with him, the award comes as no surprise. “Design Indaba’s success is a reflection of Naidoo’s personality,” says Nadine Botha, editor of Design Indaba magazine. Naidoo says he is now ready to expand the indaba concept to other countries while also building a design precinct showcasing South Africa’s innovation. But he says that the award is one for founding company Interactive Africa – clearly a man with exceptional vision and his feet firmly on the ground.