Picture: 123RF/rawpixel
Picture: 123RF/rawpixel

The advertising industry has seen significant changes over the years, evolving from the Mad Men era and the 60-second TV commercial shot in an exotic location to data analytics, programmatic advertising and a massive shift in how the industry works.

A recent FM AdFocus digital event with Tumi Rabanye, jury chairperson of the FM AdFocus Awards 2020/2021, featured a conversation with Vega co-founder and brand consultant Gordon Cook; Mosito Ramaili, account supervisor at Droga5; and Mbali Ndandani, head of digital for Africa at Unilever. They discussed where the industry is now and where it is headed.

Cook argued that the very term “advertising” is an outdated one given that the industry now practices integrated brand communication. The advertising industry has in the past attracted some brilliant but egocentric individuals, and what has changed in recent years is that advertising is now about two-way communication rather than “beating your chest in a 60-second ad”, he said. To be sustainable in the future, he said, advertising agencies have to move up the value chain and take a seat at the boardroom table to effectively partner with their clients, rather than acting as a supplier. At the same time, agencies need to become learning organisations – but that requires changing the metrics.

He predicted that networks of freelancers will become the face of the industry, which will benefit clients as they will be able to cherry-pick the precise skill sets they require.

“Collectively, brands have extraordinary power. They have an opportunity to use this social and economic power to fix this broken world of ours and do more than selling products,” he said.

Ndandani agreed that the agency model of the future is likely to look quite different. Ideally, she said, it would have more fluidity, which would in turn create more space for creativity and innovation. Creating and driving impact in the 21st century, she said, is about linking creativity, technology and humanity. Creativity is required more than ever and one powerful insight can create 1,000 ideas.

“What clients require right now are business partners,” she said, adding that Covid has accelerated the digital journey. However, rather than thinking of Covid as a constraint, she said it should be seen as an enabler.

Speaking from New York, Ramaili said the pandemic has created a renewed sense of community and humanity which brands need to capitalise on. He stressed that Africa’s time to shine is now.

The panel agreed that there was a place for awards, though there should be more emphasis given to rewarding campaigns that have value-added consequences. “Let’s not fool ourselves, awards keep us relevant and keep the lights on,” said Ramaili.

Watch the FM AdFocus live discussion here.

For further information on the FM AdFocus Awards process, contact Danette Capper at adfocus100@gmail.com or 082-494-4174. For advertising and sponsorship opportunities in the 2020 FM AdFocus publication, contact Cortney Hoyland (hoylandc@arena.africa) or Kay Naidoo (naidooka@arena.africa).

the big take-out:

To be sustainable in the future, advertising needs to move up the value chain.

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