Clients want different things from media agencies now in the second decade of the 21st Century. That’s why The MediaShop has evolved from a traditional agency business to a “fully fledged” integrated marketing and communications company, offering a full range of business solutions.
This evolution, says managing director, Kgaugelo Maphai, meant turning the way the agency works on its head. Instead of receiving creative from ad agencies and then planning media strategy off that base, the idea is to work with the creatives from the beginning “as they need to know what they’re producing for, instead of determining where we need to go. Otherwise, we have to retrofit. Which for me doesn’t make any sense”, Maphai says.
“That way of thinking, for me, has become a bit archaic simply because at the end of the day, we only have one job to do and that’s to reach the consumer,” says Maphai. “Execution strategy should actually sit within media, because we are agnostic. We’ve got the tools that essentially help us understand where the consumers are.”
The agency’s IMC head, Victor Koaho, says this new direction promises clients insight driven strategies. “As an IMC agency, we’re able to truly look at a business from all angles and address any shortcomings that may exist, beyond the realm of media planning. We’ll be taking a bird’s eye view of each client’s business in its entirety and offering workable solutions,” he says.
Challenges and the fragmented landscape
The media agency business has confronted several challenges over the past few years, not least the advent of data, and the encroachment of consultancies into their space. Maphai says as the media landscape becomes even more fragmented, what is important is understanding consumers first. “So even within the agency, I’m saying media can’t solve every problem. So we are future-fitting ourselves to ensure that we’re giving our clients’ business solutions – not media solutions, not advertising solutions. Business solutions.”
In order to do that, Maphai says, you need to understand people, how consumers live, just how they go about their business, how do they make decisions. “For instance, some who work for government get paid on the 15th of the month. Which is about two million people. That’s a lot of consumers, right. But how do you respond to that if you don’t know that? There’s an opportunity here because the 30th of the month is midmonth for them.”
It’s not about the data, it’s about people
Backing the agency’s new direction is Tirisano Consulting, the agency’s human intelligence business headed by Isla Prentis that underpins all strategic work on intelligence led consumer insights.
The company underwent an intense change management programme so as to position itself as “a business that humanises us”, that embraces the concept of brands with purpose, something young consumers truly believe in. The idea is to use data to understand people, rather than data for data’s sake because “knowing the human element, after all, is what we are paid for”.
Part of that process required investment into sending teams to towns and provinces across the country, to spend time talking to people. “It’s
critical that we go back to basics to develop that curiosity about what makes people tick. And for me, that’s at a skill set. It’s an attitude.”
As Maphai says, “Our vision is to be pioneers in revolutionary communication solutions for brands to connect with consumers — we can only achieve this by truly being in touch with consumers in this diverse society of ours.”
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