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Picture: 123RF/DILOK KLAISATAPORN
Picture: 123RF/DILOK KLAISATAPORN

The 2020/2021 national budget comes at a time of extreme upheaval and disruption for the economy, businesses, communities and citizens. But the policy choices made by the government will not alone get business in SA and its people through the storm. The recovery right now is too slow to offer enough optimism and confidence for a better future, especially the most vulnerable members of society. But true disruptive forces can drive change, offer hope and brighten lives.

At TBWA we believe the status quo is there to be upset. If you’re not disrupting, you’re conforming. If you’re conforming, you’re going unnoticed. We want our clients’ brands to be noticed, to have a role in people’s lives, to make all the other brands in the category #metoo. So, we disrupt.  

Let’s consider some of the statistics forcing everyone into survival mode. The “World Economic Outlook 2021” projects just 2.8% GDP growth for SA in 2021 and an even worse 1.4% in 2022. Many businesses are struggling to claw back 15% or more in revenue losses. Even a growth rate of 5% will not help, as growth will still not reach the levels seen in 2019.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which recently visited SA, output contracted sharply and employment losses were significant, despite the authorities’ timely actions to support the most vulnerable groups and affected businesses. Public finances also suffered, with the budget deficit and public debt increasing amid the recession and pandemic-related expenses. The resurgence of infections and the protracted vaccination procurement and distribution processes, as elsewhere, is likely to hamper economic recovery this year, notwithstanding improved external conditions.

SA has taken a huge knock over the past 14 months in terms of lack of productivity due to the lockdown, which has led to an inability to generate and collect taxes. The question is how to fast-track improved revenue generation and productivity. In our view, it must come from the disruptive and exponential growth generated by SA businesses that adapt and change.

The crisis is also putting immense pressure on CEOs, CFOs and CMOs, all of whom will have a different role to play to deliver that exponential growth and lead the recovery. Businesses and agencies face the immense challenge of how to help unlock this growth.

But instead of going backwards and falling victim to endless pessimism, companies need to unlock disrupted growth. They need to look for levers that will help them achieve 10%, 15% and 20% growth to deliver value.

Understanding performance marketing, where every piece of communication must have a quantifiable impact on driving a key metric for a client, will be so important during the recovery and growth phases ahead. There needs to be a sharp focus on actual delivery, which can only be achieved where data, media, insights, and creativity converge — moved from their parallel streams and aligned into one.  

This is just one of the many levers that will need to be harnessed. Others include identifying triggers in culture that are meaningful to brands, in real-time. True brand ideas, design ideas, product ideas and platform ideas will combine to drive change at the speed of culture.

According to the IMF, a growth-friendly but sizeable fiscal consolidation effort over the coming years will be required for SA to bring down its debt, thus reducing country risk premia and improving investor confidence.  

We believe disruption needs to be the starting point and guiding light for SA businesses to overcome these challenges and accelerate recovery. It’s a proven, successful, collaborative business tool that helps us forge a path for growth. It’s time.  

About the author: Luca Gallarelli is group CEO of TBWA\SA.

This article was paid for by TBWA\SA.

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