There’s too much nonsense out there. Time to cut through the crap and do what is right and good, not that which is phoney and bad.
There are vast amounts of people talking a vast amount of shit, especially about digital. For example, the slavish belief in programmatic marketing – that you don’t need an idea anymore, you just need a programme that will follow someone around the internet.
I’ve just read a quote from Bill Bernbach, famous ‘60s adman often referred to as the “father of modern advertising”, who said back in 1963, “I fear we may be entering an age of phonies”. It’s taken a while to come through but I think we’re at peak phony right now.
People need to think clearly about how many times they have actually responded to advertising in the digital realm. How many ads have you ever actually clicked on in your life? I bet your answer is pretty low.
I think we’ve got a huge problem with measurement in digital. People are talking about impressions, but there needs to be better measurement of how people are engaging with content.
The South African advertising industry is currently surviving almost exclusively on our excellent radio and I don’t see any other good work coming from anywhere, in any other medium, that is world class. If we think we’re world class because we produce good radio ads, we’re deluded.
What’s happening more and more on the web is that people are just watching videos. Our phones and our computers have become alternative televisions. So the message for the advertising industry is to make sure that the videos you’re making for your clients are truly effective.
I don’t think that anything is going to change profoundly this year, but there is one positive trend emerging that is good to note – we’re seeing young black creatives starting their own independently owned agencies in both Johannesburg and Cape Town, which is a new and exciting development.
Chris Gotz, national creative director at Old Friends Young Talent (OFyt).
Industry needs to harness Africa’s inherent creativity
Africa is a creative hotbed – in music, art, literature and even sport – yet the success of our commercial creativity is muted. We need to harness Africa’s ingenuity, find our own distinctive voice and style and avoid replicating Western models. We only have to look to the global movie industry to see how predetermined formulas are frequently replicated.
There is a tendency for some businesses in Africa to fall victim to a similar trend, copying models and formulas that have worked elsewhere. Somehow these feel safer. This is why disruption on the continent is so important. It encourages businesses to consider the possibilities that local content presents. It allows for a certain flow and finding original stories that work for Africa.
So, what do successful 21st century, disruptive businesses look like in Africa? The real pioneers are those who are fearless enough to break out of the stock-standard moulds and create something distinctive. They are thriving because their ideas are bred out of local issues and needs and they are not replicating something that has worked in the Western context.
Enda lightweight running shoes and the Rwandan drone port are just two examples of African innovators who are bucking the trends, finding uniquely African opportunities and turning them into exceptional businesses aimed at meeting local needs. Their type of vision and determination is what will set the successful new African businesses apart from everyone else.
Graham Cruikshank is director of Africa Operations for TBWA Johannesburg. [/box]
Making the world a beautiful place
We saw great growth in 2016 for Fort in South Africa this year; we more than doubled our turnover and grew by more than double in our staff numbers. This last year has been one categorised by slow growth in the South African economy, where we have seen different industry players fighting for the same amount of work. So we see below the line agencies trying to go through the line and digital agencies becoming full service, and everybody trying to eat everyone else’s lunch.
Another industry trend I have taken notice of this past year is the fact that we have a very competitive marketplace here in South Africa, and we need to actively start looking at Africa as a whole as the next frontier.
The big elephant in the room at the moment is how we create excellent, meaningful and worthwhile content in the quicksand of terrible content in the digital space as well as in traditional platforms.
On the radar for 2017 for Fort, it is going to be our most exciting year yet; at the beginning of 2017 we launch the first part of our global network with offices in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya and our head offices remaining in Johannesburg, South Africa. Fort was founded with a simple vision: make the world a more beautiful place, share great and meaningful stories, and leave a positive impact wherever we go. We hope to build an African brand that we can take to the world, become storytellers for a connected world.
Shukri Toefy is CEO of The Fort Agency.
Effecting integration and transformation
The biggest challenge facing agencies and clients is still integration. It may seem strange that the industry is still wrestling with this issue but perhaps it’s because the media we are trying to integrate is evolving so fast. I do however think we need to move beyond the concept of how we integrate, that should be a given, and instead be talking about how well we integrate.
It seems the industry is starting to move towards full service integration and we’ve certainly seen the benefit of having fully integrated our biggest clients. We intend to take a step ahead of the curve by tackling the challenge of achieving creativity, through programmatic media, at scale. And for us storytelling sits at the core of this, if we are going to get it right.
Marketing science is now showing us that we are fundamentally emotional beings and that 95% of all decisions are based on what feels right at the time. We are in the business of creating emotional connections with people through storytelling that helps our clients achieve their business objectives and doing that at scale, through programmatic media is the Holy Grail for us in 2017 and beyond.
In among these challenges there is another even bigger focus that needs to sit at the forefront and that’s the issue of transformation. If there is one ‘elephant in the room’ it’s the fact that the industry hasn’t done enough to achieve meaningful transformation and we now need to accelerate our efforts and apply some of that prized creativity we sell, to fixing the deficit of BBBEE talent in our business.
Brett Morris is Group CEO and chief creative officer of FCB Africa.[/box]
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