Veli Ngubane, Avatar’s co-founder and managing director, was the guest speaker at the most recent Marketing Fridays gathering where he touched on the power of creativity, the creative economy and the impact technology has had on the industry.
“There are lots of trends emerging but everyone is talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics which seems to be the next big wave,” he told the attendees who ranged from marketing entrepreneurs and marketing practitioners to students and people with an overall interest in the industry.
Ngubane believes that it is still growing. “I don’t think it’s there yet, it still has a few roads, as a trend it’s about understanding how it works, understanding how to implement it in the future,” he said.
What makes a great creative
To Ngubane, the role of a creative goes beyond putting together good looking concepts; it is also about asking the right questions and understanding your surroundings.
“Being a creative is about being inquisitive, looking at things in a very inquisitive way, seeing things from a different angle than the way it is presented. Learning from your environment, being able to translate your environment in a different way,” he explains.
He encourages the youth to be authentic and self-assured. “I encouraged young people to be original, to be themselves, to believe in their ideas. We are in a space where we are selling what we’re thinking, so some people might not have the confidence to express that and them realising the power of their ideas is crucial.”
Creativity should go beyond what people see or hear and touch, it should be something they can relate to, something that speaks to their inner-self. “Creativity is impactful, it must make people feel something, that’s what forms the bases of creativity for me,” he says.
The Avatar co-founder says running a business comes with its everyday struggles and staying on-trend in a constantly evolving space can be hard at times.
“From a business owner perspective, data is a challenge in terms of access to marketing, as well as having to keep up with changes in the industry and being innovative.
“For the first time in marketing we are interacting with consumers as part and parcel of sending across the message. It is challenging because it is ever-changing, but exciting because that’s where the future is heading,” Ngubane explains.
Thoughts on transformation
The longer transformation drags its heels, the longer issues such as access to clients, access to opportunities and building trust with major clients continues for black media owners. His biggest fight at the moment is challenging the idea that black-owned companies cannot compete in a predominantly white industry.
“The more clients we win, the easier it becomes for those after us to do the same or even better.
“Transformation is beginning, but still has a long way to go; I’m encouraged by the growth in the sector and the transformation on the client’s side. It’s not where it’s supposed to be, but it’s better than where it was,” Ngubane comments.
Avatar’s playbook to success
He is taking no prisoners and has adopted a “take over the world approach” with his business strategy, and the company that has managed to maintain a 100% growth rate since its inception. The plan is to acquire more companies along the way.
“We’ve got a vision to build an agency group, for Africans by Africans, called M&M Brands. We’re in a space where it is untransformed; being a leader in transformation we hope to inspire other black-owned and run agencies to grow. We want to go beyond a black owned agency.”
Ngubane says Avatar wants to explore the relationship of buying into other agencies, the future of Avatar is growth. “Our formula is taking a bit of what we have in Johannesburg and implementing it in other regions and using the partnerships we have there.”
Reabetswe Rabaji is a journalism intern working at Wag the Dog. He is currently studying PR and Communication Management at the University of Johannesburg.