SK Young Lions 2023 winners Bernice Mosala Raphael Kuppasamy

The proverb goes that good things come in threes. Never have truer words been expressed for Bernice Puleng Mosala and Raphael Janan Kuppasamy of agency Joe Public Johannesburg. They won the Ster-Kinekor Cannes Young Lions competition in 2020, but their travel plans were thwarted when Covid cancelled the Cannes International Festival of Creativity that year. This year, their wish has come true.

Their entry in the 2023 Cannes Young Lions – Film Category competition for South Africa, sponsored by Cannes official local representation Ster-Kinekor, was declared the winner this week. As a result, they will be attending the world’s most famous celebration of innovation this June in Cannes, France.

“Winning this competition means so much to us. To be honest, we’re still in disbelief. And, after not being able to attend the last in-person event when we won in 2020, this means even more to us,” said the duo. “We have been creative partners since 2019, and we’ve been entering the Cannes Young Lions competition together since 2020, so we’ve really learnt to play on each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

The Young Lions competition gives the next generation of industry creatives the opportunity to prove themselves under extreme pressure, answering a charity requirement to create an advertisement in under 48 hours, from brief to finished product, with the theme: ‘Teen suicide shouldn’t be a secret’.

According to Lynne Wylie, Chief Marketing Officer at Ster-Kinekor, the more than 80 entries submitted in response to the requirement were of outstanding quality. “We are privileged to represent the Cannes Festival locally and sponsor the Young Lions competition. We partnered with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) and the theme focused on the prevention of teenage suicide.

“While this is a sensitive topic, we were so impressed with how the teams tackled the brief. Selecting the final winner from the shortlisted entries proved to be a difficult task for the panel of judges that comprised some esteemed creative minds. As it turned out, we are of course delighted that Bernice and Raphael’s entry was the winner, and we can now honour the prize they should have won in 2020, together with this year’s prize!”

From the brief, the creative teams of two had only 48 hours to film, edit, and deliver a 30, 45, or 60-second commercial. SADAG wanted to send a message about securely engaging young people in conversations about mental health and suicide, reducing stigma, normalizing mental health check-ins, and talking frankly and without shame about mental health and suicide.

The panel of judges comprised Pete Khoury – TBWA; Clare Trafankowska – Dentsu; Bruce Murphy – ex McCann; Krystle Kemp – SADAG; and Brad Knowles – aHead Marketing Services.

Representing SADAG, Krystle Kemp said SADAG was humbled to be invited to be part of this year’s Ster-Kinekor Cannes Young Lions competition. “Mental health is often stigmatised and considered a taboo subject. To have this opportunity to highlight and create more awareness around mental health, as well as the help that is available to those in need, was a privilege.

“The calibre of entries was incredible. As SADAG, we were blown away by the creative, relevant and hard-hitting messages the shortlisted finalists put into their entries. Getting to see the creative executions put together by young individuals who really seemed to understand the importance of mental health and awareness was so inspirational and touching. We are grateful to all the teams for their work, immense effort and research as the campaigns were all unique and impactful. It was an amazing opportunity to be part of this – congratulations to the winners.”

Talking about their winning entry, Bernice and Raphael said they love to create work that makes a difference and touches people’s lives. “Mental health is close to both of our hearts so creating this piece was important to us. We even stayed up for the last 30 hours of the competition to make sure that everything was aligned to our vision of helping young people connect with SADAG to overcome mental health issues.

“The insight behind our idea is that young people do a lot of ‘talking’ online, but they don’t actually speak about what is bothering them. This led to our concept which was to showcase how much one person texts, comments and types in a day without actually saying anything about how they really feel. Ultimately, we wanted to communicate that for a generation that shares so much, maybe we need to share more.”

As the team to make the final cut, they will go on to represent South Africa at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity – Young Lions competition, taking place from 19 – 23 June, with their trip fully sponsored by Ster-Kinekor. There, Bernice and Raphael will be up against other winning teams from around the world to compete for the ultimate honour of being crowned this year’s Film Young Lions.

“We’re so excited to attend the Cannes International Festival of Creativity and soak up as much knowledge and creative inspiration as we can. It’s a dream come true to compete on a global stage in the Cannes Young Lions competition. We don’t quite know what to expect but we know that we will give the competition our all and hopefully make the South African advertising industry proud,” commented Bernice and Raphael.