by MarkLives (@marklives) What are the expectations of South Africa’s marketing and advertising leaders for the industry in 2017? We emailed a panel of key industry executives for their take on the macro environment, budgets, changes in messaging, movement in the industry and consumer and any communication trends they’ll be looking out for. Second up is Suhana Gordhan of FCB Africa.

Suhana Gordhan

Suhana GordhanSuhana Gordhan (@SuhanaGordhan) is a creative director at FCB Africa. She loves seeing ideas grow and enjoys working with partners who believe in making iconic South African work. She’s also Young, Gifted & Killing It!

2017 looks set to be a lot like the title of one of my favourite Charles Dickens’ novels — “Great Expectations”. I’m just hoping that we’re not left feeling like we’re all Pip, chasing the cruel dream of Estella. She is a lot like advertising — beautiful and bewitching — life with Estella could be amazing if she just stopped being so harsh, cruel and aloof.

These are the Great Expectations I have for 2017:

1. Respectful relations

There is a ruthlessness that has developed in our industry over the last five or six years and it has a lot to do with felled budgets and longer chains of command. Our marketers are being fed a diet laced with threats and fears from superiors, so they breathe fire on their agencies. Our clients expect so much from us, with so little to give in return. It’s about piling us with demands and expecting it all to be done at light speed. Enough.

The supplier mentality must fall and we need to find trust and respect again. While we can, and have to, display our agility and nimbleness as an industry, we’re shackled at the ankles if our partners don’t treat us as such.

2. Free borders

It’s so last year to be speaking about digital things. This year, we need to master the integration model. It’s not just about digital, too. It’s about creating seamless campaigns, where the borders between the states of TV, content, activation and social media are not manned by heavy, hairy policemen. We just need to become better at integration, and better faster.

Our marketers need to stop washing their hands off this responsibility. If you appoint a lead agency, you have to help pave the way with partner agencies so that the lead agency may actually lead. Integration is not about everyone sitting in a room and playing nice. It’s about lifting the barbed-wire fences and pushing forward with nothing on our minds except ideas on how to make the best possible work in the best possible way.

3. More, not nada

If we are to have an industry that makes work that is truly South African, we need to be more truly South African. All this means is that we need MORE black insights and more female insights and, for that, we need more black people and more women in our agencies and in our marketing teams. It doesn’t mean that we can’t hire men and white people.

This is the responsibility of the entire industry — not the work of just a few good men and women.

4. Mindfulness

For too long, we’ve accepted that this is an industry that abuses people’s time.

Creativity is not a cactus. It needs water, care, some plant food and occasionally you have to speak lovingly to it. We need to treat our people better and give creative minds time to rest and refuel. I’m not sure why we insist on draining creatives ’till they’re inspired to do nothing but leave this industry.

We only get great work if we get space to breathe. I hope that in 2017 we can all slow down a little — enough to spend more time considering the work, enough to be able to make work we may love instead of work that has to be shoved down the gullet of the duck.


Dickens writes, “I have been bent and broken, but — I hope — into a better shape.” May we all find ourselves in better shape this year and may our expectations — no matter how large and grand — be fulfilled.


MarkLives logoLaunched in 2016, “The Big Q” is a regular column on MarkLives in which we ask key industry execs for their thoughts on relevant issues facing the ad industry. If you’d like to be part of our pool of potential panellists, please contact editor Herman Manson via email (2mark at marklives dot com) or Twitter (@marklives). Suggestions for questions are also welcomed.

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