The PAMRO All Africa Media Research Conference has become an annual feature on the calendars of top industry professionals in the marketing, media and advertising sectors.
Now in its 18th year, PAMRO initially focused on bringing together delegates from across Africa, to network, debate and present solutions to the continent’s challenges and opportunities. This year, however, delegates were drawn from as far afield as the United States, China and a number of European countries.
The theme of this year’s conference, held in Cape Town, South Africa was ‘Content is king and he is one of us’, and a highlight of the event was seeing who, in an extremely competitive environment, would be crowned this year’s Piet Smit Achiever of the Year Award. The accolade for 2017 went to Oresti Patricios, CEO of the Ornico Group, which has long been on the cutting edge of the media, advertising and branding industries.
We chatted to him about the award, Africa’s enormous potential and what PAMRO means for the future.
How do you feel about having been recognised as the 2017 Piet Smit Achiever of the Year Award?
I am very humbled but very, very proud, particularly if I look at some of the other guys who’ve won. The likes of Neil Higgs [ex director of innovation and development at TNS Research Surveys] and Tendai Mhizha, she’s got a doctorate. So to be equated with those kinds of minds, it’s an honour.
What does receiving this award mean for you professionally?
This kind of recognition is important, not so much for myself but for my staff. It’s a way for the guys to see that the vision, the ‘what we are trying to achieve’ is on track. We’ve got the vision right and are getting recognition for it. From a client perspective it helps to up their level of trust in us.
PAMRO 2017 brought together some great minds in the industry. There is a real sense that Africa is going places. Could you comment?
Absolutely, there were some really exciting presentations. We had delegates representing 22 countries this year, but it was those from outside of Africa – the Europeans, Chinese and Americans – who spoke about how vibrant we are. The ideas coming from Africa are at the cutting edge. We can confidently apply our knowledge to the developed and the developing world. We’ve got the commitment, the brains and the passion to do it.
Have any of the insights from PAMRO 2017 inspired you to change tack/look at business differently?
I learn something every year. One of the strong points I have is futurising. It’s critical to look at the trends in things such as AI, predictive analytics etc to future-proof ourselves. I look at these things from an implementation perspective and provide details of what it means to business. Africa is more ready than anywhere else. Take Europe for example, it’s an old environment where things have been done in a particular way for millennia. It’s difficult to make quick adaptive changes in that environment. Africa is young, it’s more open to change and we are willing to change and we are passionate about growth.
Where do you believe the greatest challenge/potential lies for the industry in 2017?
Challenge and potential is exactly the same thing. It has so much to do with a fear around collaborating, but if we engage with each other to find solutions to the challenges we can realise the possibility. We see this at PAMRO. We’ve witnessed how people have collaborated and worked together towards a solution. One company can’t change everything on its own.
Why is PAMRO important for the industry?
We want Africa to grow. That’s our passion. The only way to grow is through investment in Africa. For this to happen our data needs to be more robust, it needs to be accurate and trustworthy. We have this huge growing middle class, but we don’t have enough data to make it easier for brands to put decent money behind investing in Africa.
We are starting to expand our reach from being just in the media research industries. By including presentations from the likes of Coca-Cola’s Leana Less we are beginning to look at things from the client’s perspective, from the communications channel. Our pool of delegates growing to incorporate these ideas. We might be called PAMRO [Pan African Media Research Organisation] but that’s not all we stand for, we have enlarged our constituency to include all marketing and communications. PAMRO will become a name, not just an acronym.