Big Q: What we need to achieve true transformation
by MarkLives (@marklives) The marketing and advertising industries are transforming. So why are so many black professionals disgruntled with the rate of progress? And is the quality of most of the work specifically directed at a black audiences still sub-par? We emailed a panel of key industry executives for their take. This week it’s the turn of Masego Motsogi of Ninety9cents (99c) Johannesburg.
Masego Motsogi (@masegom) is the managing director at Ninety9cents (99c) Johannesburg. Her career in advertising and marketing spans over 15 years, having worked at Ogilvy & Mather, The Jupiter Drawing Room, South African Breweries and FCB Africa before joining 99c. She has a degree in community and health psychology and a higher diploma in integrated marketing communications.
While people of colour are the majority in South Africa, they still remain the cultural minority in so-called ‘white collar’ workplace environments; it’s no different in advertising. Although there has been some transformation in the marketing and advertising industries, assisted by scorecard measures that are in place, we still have a long way to go.
In order to achieve true transformation, we need:
1. A non-negotiable layer of empowerment
Coaching, training and mentorship are key to this. And not just the sort of training that teaches PowerPoint or Excel (not that these aren’t useful skills to have). Rather, I am referring to mentorship and on-the-job training that helps develop transferable skills. There are certain ‘soft’ skills that cannot be acquired from a textbook but rather emulated after watching them exercised by someone more experienced, particularly when these skills contribute or lead to a desirable outcome. Thus a formalised mentorship and development programme will pave the way for a more-confident, more-equipped future generation of leaders.
2. Fairness and equality
Over the years, I have noted white staff members being advanced ahead of their black counterparts (with both having the same qualification and level of delivery.) Business leaders need to examine their subconscious, and sometimes conscious, bias, and ensure that they are promoting genuine equal opportunity through real, tangible action — not just words. They need to reinforce these positive, fair behaviours through their team, so that the example is set from the top down.
The next aspect to address is how we as an industry perceive people of colour and reinforce stereotypes through the work we produce. Often the quality of work specifically directed at a black audience is not only subpar but misguided and misinformed.
Offensive and lazy
Advertising that plays to stereotypes is not only offensive — it is just plain lazy.
Last year at Cannes Lions, a hot topic was sexism in advertising and the use of one-dimensional female stereotypes in the work produced by the broader industry. Industry giant Unilever even denounced this, and pledged to portray authentic, three-dimensional women personalities in its brand ads going forwards.
I would like this same understanding to be extended to all people of colour. Don’t reduce us to simply a group of people who sing and dance for consumables. Treat us like the multifaceted individuals and consumers we are.
Essentially, transformation needs to go beyond the scorecard; it needs to be honoured in practical ways.
- Big Q: Transformation — what you need to know & change — Herman Manson
- Big Q: Transformation needs buy-in on the demand side — Monalisa Sibongile Zwambila
- Big Q: Transformation — the proverbial workhorses have bolted — Grant Sithole
- Big Q: Transformation — clients must take road less travelled — Zibusiso Mkhwanazi
- Big Q: Concept of transformation not embraced by our industry — Sbu Sitole
- Big Q: “Some” transformation is simply not good enough — Ahmed Tilly
- Big Q: Transformation apartheid plagues SA ad agencies — Ivan Moroke
Launched 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.