It’s been 25 years since Red Cherry Interactive first opened its doors. The company, which specialised in branded content, activations, events experiential and digital campaigns, recently repositioned as a full-service advertising agency, with strategic, creative, media, digital, PR, event and activations divisions offering above and below the line services.
Red Cherry is a level 1 BBBEE female-owned company, with the entire leadership team comprising dynamic women who are leaders in their fields. New CEO, Pheladi Mphahlele, along with longstanding team members Jenna Murray-Smith, Robbyn Burger, Faye Dawood and Aliki Frantzeskos work actively in the business, every day, to bring their first-hand knowledge of subjects across the advertising, marketing, branding and creative disciplines to clients.
“We are positioning Red Cherry as a full-service advertising and marketing agency, because that is what we have naturally grown into. Over the years we have successfully offered these services to our clients, but have still largely been seen as a media and production house,” said Mphahlele. “We are so much more than that, and want the industry to see us for what we really are and the unique skills we bring to the table.”
Here, Murray-Smith reveals more about the company’s journey.
Q: Why did you decide to branch out with your own business/venture, rather than work for other companies or corporates?
I decided to get involved in Red Cherry as a shareholder over a decade ago once I had worked in the company for a few years and seen my vision for campaigns was perfectly matched to Red Cherry’s. For me working never looking at a brief in isolation and considering all options – often unique or a first for the client, was important. I wanted to see media campaigns work harder using interactive lead generating tools and high recall platforms some of which included interactive mechanics to increase consumers passive and active participation.
Q: Give us a brief history of your media venture? What gave you the idea? How did it begin, and how has your business journey unfolded?
Red Cherry started 25 years ago with the mission to increase brand recall and sales for brands – in a non-traditional way but on traditional media. Red Cherry introduced the Shop O Mania and SPOT ON brands on TV in 1994, which later went onto all Radio stations also. Many more brands were launched over the years, in response to brands needs including the current Brandspotter brand on TV and radio, which is consumer driven.
Branded content became important over the years and Red Cherry started to conceptualise and produce short and long form content for all mediums.
Over the years clients have asked us to assist in many other area’s besides Media and production including strategy; creative; design; digital; BTL activations, events and experientials; PR and CSI so it was natural for us to officially position ourselves as a full service marketing and advertising agency.
Q. What challenges did you face as a media entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?
There have been some challenges over the years, getting stakeholders to back truly immersible consumer campaigns and being flexible and daring with us. But all challenges bring us great opportunities and allow us to feel the exhilaration of victory.
Q: Has there been a moment of success that has really stood out for you and that is your favourite on your journey? To what do you attribute your success?
There have been several – every campaign where we achieved more sales or leads then needed was always a favourite and seeing how full integrated campaigns with interactive elements can really make a brand stand out of the clutter.
Q: What characteristics do you think make a successful media entrepreneur?
Ability to look for niches but always having the ultimate objective in mind.
Q: Your advice to young media entrepreneurs or those looking to start new media businesses?
Take risks and don’t fear failure – failing means learning. Don’t accept what has been done before is all that can be done – do the impossible.
Q: What next from you and your media company/venture? What can people expect? Exciting upcoming projects?
A full service advertising and marketing agency is now available where we place specific teams of award winning people to suit the specific categories where they having proven track record in and care about the products.
We have several branded content formats in the pipeline for clients that have shown interest for to meet their objectives as well as other branded content opportunities where other brands can get involved.
Q: What, in your view, needs to happen to encourage more media entrepreneurs, and not just that, help them stay the course?
More ‘each one teach one’ sessions from the professionals who have had success. The education needs to be hands on and ‘real’ using all the industry tools so they become more employable after graduating.
Q: How do you ‘pay it forward’?
In my personal life I have always believed in giving of time and resources if I want to get back in the form of determination, health and energy.
At Red Cherry, we have been involved in CSI projects for decades. By partnering with media owners and brands we been the company to bring them together with a project in need and making the change happen. We have enabled schools to be refurbished, feeding schemes started, container classrooms; libraries and kitchens started; sports fields and classrooms built; school transport projects, water and electrification projects.
Red Cherry has always made sustainability and measurability key when getting clients involved in CSI projects.
Q: What quote or passage do you think encapsulates you and your approach to business and success?
Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success if you learn from failure.
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