by Masego Motsogi (@masegom) I’m sure many of us will attest to 2018 as one for the history books of South Africa*. Yet, for the marketing and advertising industry, I have to say that things were a bit tame. Now, this could be a function of either a stable industry that has its feet firmly on the ground, or one that has been hanging back with minimal resolve on its purpose. My personal reflection is that the latter could be the case.

Not a true character

The tameness is certainly not a true character of an industry that boasts a number of creative minds, many of whom are decorated with awards from across the world — an industry that has enough access to channels of communication to influence popular culture and, if we were bold enough to, even affect elements of the national agenda.

Could our light have been dimmed by our own inconsistencies through not realising our value and starting to lose our share of voice with our clients to consultancies and other parties? Have we become so unresolved that we’ve entered into price wars with one another, ultimately informing, among other things, the quality of output and the level of reinvestment into our businesses affecting overall improvement, particularly as a service industry?

We had a good run leading up to the 2008 economic downturn, and that has obviously impacted where we are today as a group of people. Not all is lost, however, especially if we take it upon ourselves to reflect on the wins and losses of the current systems and find a way into the future that will not only keep us as an industry out of oblivion but also produce work that shifts the dial — work that is truly meaningful by being informative, inspiring, entertaining and, indeed, beautiful.

Expectations for 2019

In saying that, my expectations for 2019 for us are that:

  • We will continue to recognise the beauty and power of diversity that helps our work be that much that stronger and impactful. This means making a concerted effort in ensuring that we invite young people, women and a racially diverse group of people and beyond into the industry, and then retain them.
  • In keeping this cohort of people, we need to understand that growth largely emanates from empowerment and that needs to be facilitated through mentorship and other such programmes.
  • We need to take our own council. We often sit in boardrooms and, together with our clients, define what brands stand for and what they represent to their audiences. But how affirmed are we in our own purpose? I think it’s time we define that and stand firm in what we bring to the party and let that be reflected in our work.
  • In recognising the above, let us also move with the times and remember that technology has made its tracks well into the veins of everything that we do – let’s find ways of making technologies work for us without taking away the heart in the work we do. Let’s use technology and humanity for maximum impact.
  • This one may seem too obvious to even mention but, in reality, I think we take it for granted that we know and that is it. I took part in a panel interview not so long ago, where one of the closing questions the radio host posed to us was: How close to reality are we as an industry? My first instinct was to respond firmly with an “I’m in tune; I know what’s happening; I’m aware” but, on further reflection, I have to admit that there’s so much happening around us and it’s hard to keep track of all of outside of social media platforms and my hope is that we start having bold conversations and truly immerse ourselves to help us understand. Our work is often what we believe to be a reflection of society or a prediction of what is to come. We need to edge closer to knowledge and a little farther from ‘thoughts’ and ‘beliefs’ by experiencing more.

I’m more than certain that the above isn’t unique to our industry. I do feel, though, that our industry is in one of the most-fortunate positions as it’s small enough to effect change without unnecessary bureaucracy. It has enough resolute and creative minds, and it can only get better from here onwards.

Let’s do it best

Going into an election year, I hope that, beyond what other agencies may be doing for political parties and other related entities, we pull ourselves towards ourselves, start giving a damn and stop hanging in the shadows and make our voices heard. Let’s find ways to weigh in on the national agenda – responsibly. Let’s be credible again. Let’s do it best.

*2018 started off with probably the most-memorable Valentine’s Day to date and, among many things, terms such as sh*thole and Brexit firmly found their place in the general lexicon. Locally, many things happened beyond the political spectrum, and SA’s unofficial investigative unit in Black Twitter remains a force while we continue dealing with several corporate scandals still making the news. Let’s not even start on how things stood economically. In short, things were — over and above interesting — chaotic.

See also


MarkLives logo What are the industry expectations for the marketing and advertising industry in 2019? Kicking off our “Big Q” column for the year, a panel of key agency and marketing executives discusses the macro environment, budgets, changes in messaging, movement in the industry and any consumer and communication trends they’ll be looking out for in the year ahead.

Masego Motsogi (@masegom) is managing director of Grid Worldwide. Her career in advertising and marketing spans over 16 years, having worked at Ninety9cents Johannesburg, Ogilvy & Mather, The Jupiter Drawing Room, South African Breweries and FCB Africa. She has a degree in community and health psychology and a higher diploma in integrated marketing communications.

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