Founded 15 years ago, with a presence across five continents, Advertising Week – billed as the premier event for marketing, brand, advertising, and technology professionals – is finally headed, for the very first time, to African shores.
Executive director of the week-long conference and festival, Tosin Lanipekun, says an event of this nature has been long overdue on the continent. “Of course there are many events that take place, but what distinguishes this one is that it will be, truly, the biggest platform for professionals and thought leaders for the creative advertising, tech and media businesses across the continent, and it is a truly African event,” he says.
When it first began, Advertising Week, as its name suggests, was purely focused on advertising, but has now broadened its scope to include the tech and media industries as well.
Strengthening relationships and highlighting innovations
Lanipekun sees this event as vital for two reasons. Firstly, “Regions and countries, by design or by accident, don’t play well and do business very well with each other on the continent. It’s much easier for Nigeria as a country to do business with countries in Europe and North America, than it does with its neighbours. And the same goes for South Africa or Kenya. We feel, in bringing key players in the media, advertising, and tech spaces, and brands, and government and policymakers into the conversation, we begin to clear those pathways to ease the flow of business and help the continental economy grow,” he says.
Secondly, he believes that Africa and its citizens have a wealth of innovations that need to be highlighted and showcased to the rest of the world. From the fine arts and creative sectors in West Africa (for example, Nollywood), and tech developments in East Africa (such as M-Pesa), to marketing and advertising services offered in Southern Africa, these successes need to be celebrated.
The host city
The event will take place at 1 Fox in Johannesburg. Lanipekun says it was a tough choice to pick a host country and city. Ultimately, “Johannesburg is a city that’s designed to make hosting events very convenient, and it’s a very desirable destination to visit. What was also important was balancing the ease of doing that with the sense of cosmopolitan Africa that we were looking for,” he explains.
Having Africa and Africans tell their own stories around entrepreneurship, innovation and positive disruption is one of the key goals of the event, along with it being a true African event. The latter is being supported by an advisory council, set up with members from across the continent, who are co-creating the agenda to showcase a true African experience.
While the other Advertising Week global events don’t move host cities (taking place in New York, London, Tokyo, Mexico City and and Sydney), organisers are considering whether to move it around key destinations on the African continent.
New conferences tend to come with concerns that they will simply be talk shops, with no actual practical benefits coming out of them. Advertising Week Africa is ensuring this won’t happen by putting plans in place to give back. Day one of the conference is dedicated to master classes teaching previously disadvantaged youngsters the fundamentals of marketing, entrepreneurship, tech and media. Following this, bursaries and internships will also be given out.
“This was critical for us, so we don’t just roll into town, roll out of town and then everyone forgets about it till the following year. We want to put in place a programme that makes and creates change on the ground, and that goes beyond the duration of the event,” says Lanipekun.
Securing your seat
It is taking place from 28-31 October 2019 in Johannesburg. Advertising Week Africa is a ticketed event, with tickets available across different tiers. For all the details and to secure your spot, click here.
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