Like many organisations, the Marketing Association of South Africa (MASA) hasn’t had much impact. Its CEO, Sarel du Plessis explains that he intends changing that.
MASA – Looking Back
Your past plays an important role in shaping your future, and boy, does the Marketing Association of South Africa (MASA) have an interesting history! It started out as the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) in the 1970s. Marketing in South Africa was for a long time equated with advertising. But as United States marketing influences and trends reached South Africa, a clearer industry and subsequently business understanding developed. Sale was no longer a four-letter expletive and the marketing/sales continuum was understood and recognised. Enter the South African Society of Marketers (SASOM) under the stewardship of Hugh Lendrum. SASOM represented marketers, not individuals but the companies that employed marketers, who with a marketing budget, used marketing techniques to generate sales. Derrick Dickens became available out of the demise of BBDO and was appointed executive director of a new body that the marketing companies decided to form out of the remnants of SASOM. This one was called the Association of Marketers of South Africa (ASOM).
Early in the new millennium, the decision was taken by three independent boards of directors of ASOM, DMA and Institute of Marketing Management to merge, forming the Marketing Federation of South Africa (MFSA). Then the shocking announcement: “The MFSA is to be wound down following a decision by its Board on Friday September 30, 2005. The decision follows several interventions by the board to deal with management problems, which arose out of the organisation during 2004”.
MASA – The Present
Marketers were without a unified voice for a number of years until one chartered marketer, Enrico du Plessis, stepped up to the plate in 2007 and convinced a number of senior marketers representing a few large corporates to form a new body now known as the Marketing Association of South Africa (MASA). Joining MASA in August 2011, I found a healthy and vibrant association doing the things it should be doing. For me, that meant: representing marketers effectively on industry bodies such as South African Advertising Research Foundation (SARF), the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) and others; working very hard to assist in developing marketing professionals through awarding Chartered Marketer and Marketing Professional designations (CMSA and MPSA); and taking up the fight against stupid laws such as the ban on alcohol advertising. But MASA is not representative of marketers in general. With only 45 corporate members and 300 individual members, its influence and clout is insufficient.
MASA – The Future
In visiting the American Marketing Association (AMA) in Chicago last year, I was immediately struck by their positioning statement ‘Marketing Power’. With their almost 37 000 individual members (all senior marketing people), they make their mark on all spheres of marketing in the USA, and play a significant role in shaping legislation to protect advertisers. The AMA is also an umbrella marketing association incorporating all the verticals of marketing such as classic above-and-below the line; public relations; mobile marketing; and online marketing. I believe that MASA should adopt a similar approach and work towards the creation of an umbrella association. It will take years to achieve this but the end result will be rewarding.
Late 2011, MASA held a strategic planning workshop to craft a new future for the association. Using the current vision and mission statement for the association, the delegates then attempted to develop a vision for the period 2011-2014. Their general sentiments were that it should:
• Represent the interests of the marketing industry, individual marketers and corporates;
• Have real influence;
• Engender respect for the industry and profession; and
• Build and sustain professional marketing standards.
We describe ourselves as: self-regulatory, independent, credible at research, and upholding professional and ethical marketing practices.
The critical success factors towards achieving the vision were interrogated and then refined to six key elements: representation, resources, revenue, marketing, education, and networking. Strategic objectives and key performance indicators were then developed for each. There are areas of overlap, which need to be integrated before action plans can be set. A subsequent session will be held to refine all the elements.
MASA and the marketers want to build an effective association that will add value with real benefits to its members. The focus for the next year will be acquiring new members. The goal is to grow corporate membership to 150 and individual membership to 500. By 2015 we want to have 2 000 individual members and corporate members representing 90% of total marketing spend in South Africa. The Loeries will be back with the marketers and MASA will host a number of top-level marketing conferences annually. Tall order? You bet.
This story was first published in the March 2012 issue of The Media magazine.