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. Next up is Xola Nouse of The Odd Number.

Xola Nouse

Xola NouseXola Nouse, a former management consultant at Ernst & Young, holds an MA in business management and a BCom honours in marketing. He is the co-founder and managing director of The Odd Number, a through-the-line ideas agency founded in April 2015 which, in 2016, was recognised as one of the top 20 agencies in the country. It also won one Gold and one Bronze Loeries, a Gold Pendoring and the coveted Umphetha Award in its first 19 months of existence.

Despite current uncertainties regarding growth prospects in many African economies, the longer-term outlook for economic growth in Africa remains positive. This is both a challenge and opportunity for marketers and communication agencies alike.

Marketing executives will find it increasingly difficult to maintain their marketing spend in difficult economic times. With clients under budgetary pressure, they will be expected to defend their marketing spend in their boardrooms. Our role as their communication partners requires us to be cognisant of this pressure, and to find alternate ways to continue to drive value in the work that we do.


The emerging trend of procurement/sourcing departments being intimately involved in the ultimate purchase decision by marketers further emphasises the need for stronger, trusting relationships, as well as identifying different ways to drive cost saving. This may require us to alter our operating and revenue model with the view of medium vs short-term economic gains.

Digital marketing channels will continue to grow in 2017 and beyond. This growth will be reflected by clients’ media investment. Audience targeting, content and reach will justify data-driven and measureable marketing. Data-analytics spending will continue to have a noticeable share in clients’ marketing budgets. ROI, audience data and engagement metrics will be equally important to marketing professionals, as well as agencies. Smaller, startup agencies that do not have mature digital capabilities will need to find ways to compete or face the risk of being irrelevant.

In the local landscape, demographic representation will continue to be a challenge.

Prioritising black and black-female ownership to achieve the mandated 45% ownership will continue to be a priority for most agencies. The agencies that are ahead of the curve will have less of a problem reaching this target, as they would have grown their own timber over the years. Those that are behind the curve will struggle, and could potentially end up overinvesting in talent.

More startups

What we could also see is the continued emergence of individuals with bankable talent starting their own agencies vis-a-vis climbing the ladder in the hope that they will make it to senior management positions or the executive table.


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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