Tumi Rabanye. Picture: SUPPLIED
Tumi Rabanye. Picture: SUPPLIED

Sitting as a jury member for the 2019 AdFocus Awards connects yet another one of those nodes in my career. It’s eye-opening and exciting, but most of all it raises a great deal of nostalgia for me.

As a teenage girl in Mahikeng with a keen interest in advertising, there was very little to validate my interest, and even fewer people to point to for an example. This world I was so interested in seemed far, impenetrable by “people like me”, and the education thereof hard to map out. The annual AdFocus Awards announcement (accessible only in print) was a necessity when it came about; it helped confirm to myself and those around me that there was method to my madness. It gave names, faces, designations, titles, companies referred to as “agencies” and context for campaigns, all of which would make the subject of conversation with anyone who dared engage me. I have to tip my hat to my folks, who were incredible listeners!

So, having have come all that way to the jury of the 2019 AdFocus Awards, I have an appreciation for the duality of purpose it serves. I appreciate that, especially in recognising the best of today – or, more specifically, of the year – there is a confirmation to other young aspirant minds out there, in Mahikeng, Ikageng or Moruleng, that their ambition is valid. I appreciate that in addition to the student category, the shapeshifter category confirms a case for change-makers. I’m personally inspired by the industry leaders whose nominations have inspired robust debate among the jury members, and the lifetime achievers reflect just how much runway there still is for those who are committed. 

When bringing it back to our current context – here in 2019 and forward – I consider this property an exciting one for its grounding in business. We are not short of examples of the flux and discomfort our industry is in, yet our peers show up! I think the AdFocus Awards property is in a prime position to facilitate the discourse of what drives us all, and why. For its lens on business, in addition to creativity and effectiveness, it is in a distinct position to become more than an event, book or website, but an actual platform.

As we grapple with the total transformation of the industry, including BEE, digital enablement (not disruption) and expansion into the continent, I view the AdFocus Awards property as an important curator of the necessary discourse.

My wish is that this property grows in strength, not only for the catalogue of annual winners but for talent that is yet to manifest in the industry.


Since their inception in 1990, the FM AdFocus Awards have established themselves as the leading platform for individuals and agencies to be recognised not only for their creative marketing skills, but for their overall business acumen as well. The awards have grown to become a landmark on the SA marketing and communications landscape, by celebrating advertising effectiveness. The FM AdFocus Awards take place on November 27 2019.

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