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Picture: 123RF/stnazkul
Picture: 123RF/stnazkul

As much of the world emerges from pandemic lockdowns, the advertising industry needs to adapt to the growing trend of  borderless marketing,  says Patou Nuytemans, Ogilvy’s CEO for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

In an interview during a visit to SA, she tells the FM the virus has forced companies to rethink the future of business.

“For SA this could prove to be fruitful, as marketing and advertising leaders focus increasingly on breaking down international silos and seek to deliver borderless marketing solutions.”

Nuytemans has just taken over the job at one of the world’s biggest and most recognised advertising companies. In SA Ogilvy works on brands such as Volkswagen, KFC and Castle Lager.

She says the pandemic was one of the most disruptive events for business  in living memory and as a leader in the advertising sector Ogilvy has had to analyse the implications for itself and its clients.

“What the pandemic revealed was our ability to innovate and engage in new and agile ways and then scale that through our global network. We could quickly offer services from one centre of excellence in our business to multiple markets. And in this regard SA proved to be pivotal.”

 She says there is no shortage of talent and creativity in SA and what Covid did was to expose this beyond the country's borders. 

 The concept of borderless marketing is not new but has gained traction in recent years. Writing in the Journal of International Marketing, Jagdish Sheth, professor of business at Emory University in the US, says “the tsunami of social media is real”.

“It will affect international marketing more dramatically and far sooner than we all anticipated. The largest nations in population are no longer China and India, they are Facebook and YouTube. Users today transcend not only geographic and jurisdictional boundaries but also social, cultural, and economic boundaries among consumers and customers.”

In line with this new paradigm, Nuytemans says that even before the pandemic Ogilvy had created specialist units in Cape Town and Johannesburg to serve the digital creative, content, data and social needs of the global network. Clients range from  Amazon and Mondelēz to  Ikea and the World Health Organisation.

SA is a place with exceptional talent, from digital, social and data skill sets to creativity, storytelling and marketing
Patou Nuytemans

In SA, though, don’t we tend to think of expertise as residing outside our borders?

Not so, says Nuytemans. “I lived in SA for many years and discovered it is a place with exceptional talent, from digital, social and data skill sets to creativity, storytelling and marketing. And it is well positioned geographically to support not only Europe, but also Asia, the Middle East and even the Americas.”

She says Ogilvy has built unique capabilities in SA,  “a centre of excellence that combines social intelligence, media and content to engage with consumers in relevant, personalised, real-time ways”. 

The Ogilvy operation in SA “is based on a deep understanding of what drives consumers and their conversations”.

“These skills do not only serve us locally but internationally. Our best-in-class team, which we launched in 2019, already counts over 120 people servicing clients across the global Ogilvy network.”

While the concept of borderless marketing sounds simple, Nuytemans says there are myriad challenges ahead.

“The market remains under pressure as we slowly emerge from the devastation of Covid-19. For both clients and agencies, it was a period of disruption, and many are still finding their feet. What we learnt, however, is that regional hubs of excellence combined with a return to face-to-face client engagement is a recipe for success.”

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