AdFocus 2017: Transformation Award. Picture: TISO BLACKSTAR
AdFocus 2017: Transformation Award. Picture: TISO BLACKSTAR

Transformation is a journey rather than a one-off box-ticking exercise, says Chris Botha, group CEO of The MediaShop, winner of the inaugural 2017 AdFocus transformation award.

Botha says the BEE code has been detrimental to the advertising industry, as many agencies think that once they have achieved a Level 1 rating they can stop focusing on transformation efforts. He says: “There is a huge difference between BEE in terms of the code and true transformation.”

Despite having a Level 1 BBBEE rating, Botha says, The MediaShop, which also won the network media agency of the year award at AdFocus, still has areas it needs to address before he is satisfied it has truly transformed. “We have identified a shortage of black media strategists in SA and we still need to do more work on transforming our senior leadership team. The latter issue needs to be addressed internally while the former needs to be an industry-wide initiative,” he says.

An industry-wide shortage of black media strategists means that the industry is not deriving sufficient insight into black consumers, points out Botha. For too long, he says, the industry has addressed transformation as individual companies. The next step is to work at it as a collective on an industry-wide basis.

The big take-out: Transformation needs to be a journey rather than a box ticking exercise, says The MediaShop’s Chris Botha.

A limited number of good black staff is driving high salary inflation, Botha points out. It is a situation that is not sustainable in the long term.

“Media agencies need to agree collectively to develop 50 black media strategists as a matter of priority. This will allow the salaries of black media strategists to fall back in line with market norms and provide media agencies with a sufficient pool of talent. If we work together this is a problem we can solve,” he says.

The other big challenge facing media agencies, says Botha, regards differentiation and value proposition. “Clients want to be assured that we can add value to their business, which means our value proposition needs to be strong. If clients can do something themselves, they will. Where the industry is failing is that its only differentiator is price; and that’s not sustainable.”

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