Advertising agencies that complain they are forced to make sacrifices to meet new transformation targets are setting themselves up to fail in the future, says Alistair Mokoena, new CEO of the Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) SA brand communications group. Rather, they should embrace transformation as a chance to grow in new directions. From April 2018, a new broad-based black economic empowerment code for the marketing, advertising and communications sector will require agencies to be at least 45% black-owned. The current threshold is 25%. A minimum 30% of the new 45% — meaning 13.5% of the total — must be held by women. Employment equity will also have to improve. However, the advertising industry — and indeed the broader brand communications sector — has a history of grudging change. New market research shows that with less than six months before the new code comes into force, many agencies have done nothing to prepare. The most common excuses are lack of suitable ownership partners and of y...

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