by Mpange Chapeshamano (@mpangethechap) The South African advertising Industry has been attacked many a time over its lack of transformation. This sad state of affairs is all the more shocking, given we are an industry responsible for shaping perceptions, communicating messages and, in essence, building a nation. We are at the forefront of communication!
Most advertising campaigns created for black people are mostly done by not-so-black marketing and advertising agencies. And by not so black, I am talking ownership and leadership — not just the doers. It’s total Broken Telephone here.
So let’s get to the point. What can you do to improve this situation? And, yes, I’m sure industry bodies (one of one) have done a lot over the years to ensure that we transform but I can tell you for free it’s happening at a very slow rate. So here’s a practical guide that we as an industry can apply to encourage radical transformation (without the need for legislation):
1. Adopt Uber’s business model
I mean, Uber is one of the largest cab businesses in the world, yet it doesn’t own a single car. Imagine that! What is there to learn from this? That the world has changed and doing business is not always about being able to do everything. You can still be a big global Agency without having all the resources or disciplines sitting in your office park or, even more so, owned by you.
So go ahead and identify smaller, nimble, agile, whatchamacallit black agencies and outsource some work to them. That way, the smaller person on the street gets the opportunity to work on bigger brands and thereby develop a good portfolio.
Next time there is an opportunity which requires you to have serviced a listed business, Small Black Agency whatchamacallit could confidently fill in the tender forms. Of course, if it can start off by affording the sometimes hefty tender document fees. *side-eyes the Lotto tender document fee a while back*
2. Collaboration isn’t a dirty word
So, you’ve been bold enough to partner with a small Black Agency. Why not scream about it? Fear not to communicate to your clients. Share the good news, your strategy and how you are contributing to the transformation of the industry, one small black agency at a time.
Look at it this way. Now your work will be churned out faster and ‘blacker’ because said black smaller agency is able to deliver faster and, hey, you have done some good for a change.
3. Employ black people
Employ black people in top positions, please. Lots of them. Don’t come with the story of “We couldn’t find a senior black strategist”. Keep looking.
Don’t create funny positions just to fill the quotas. Have management-development programmes tailored for the industry. Grow people and have a genuine interest in their development. That way, they will be loyal and stay in your business long enough to fulfil senior positions later on. Black people are going nowhere and so are the brands they consume.
And, importantly, let’s just start making beautiful advertising and marketing campaigns which touch the hearts and lives of our people without making them look like the fools they aren’t. The only way you can do that is to partner with people and agencies that understand the nuances. In this case, adopt the Uber business model.
Mpange Chapeshamano (@mpangethechap) is not an acclaimed writer. In fact, he can’t write to save his life but, now and then, like today, he keyboards his thoughts on his 13” MacBook Pro. In his spare time, he is managing director of the whatchamacallit agency, Dashboard Africa. In 2014, he was voted one of 200 young South Africans to watch by the Mail & Guardian. He believes in collaboration and, currently with his partners, is building what they believe is the 2020 agency.
“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on MarkLives.com. Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.
— MarkLives’ round-up of top ad and media industry news and opinion in your mailbox every Monday and Thursday. Sign up here!