New Draftfcb Joburg boss says the buck will stop with him
by Herman Manson (@marklives) Recently it was announced that Draftfcb Johannesburg has appointed Alistair Mokoena as Managing Director of the agency. Mokoena comes from ABSA where he had served as head of Marketing at ABSA Retail & Business Bank. MarkLives caught up with Mokoena to chat to him about his management style, client/agency relationships and his business priorities at Draftfcb.
MarkLives: How long have you guys been talking?
What are your business priorities as newly appointed MD of Draftfcb?
The short term priority I guess is to understand and maintain the energy which drives Draftfcb Johannesburg. I have a very strong management team and a great client list and I want to meet them all and essentially listen initially. Agency life is new to me and its as important that I firstly understand what is working.
In the medium term I think the opportunity is to improve the management & evolution of our brands over time. The world is a very different place today, South Africa is still going through enormous changes and this represents an opportunity for smart marketers. Integrated communication will become even more important than it is today and the right message in the right channel will be an even bigger competitive advantage.
Describe your management style?
I believe that the first key leadership task is to hire/ retain the best possible talent. Thereafter my approach is to create the necessary context in which this talent can deliver against clear goals. In my experience talented people thrive under an inspiring vision, clear expectations and the authority to make the necessary decisions. I do not believe in micromanagement but I do believe that the buck stops with me and that where issues exist I reserve the right to dive in.
How would you describe the overall relationship between agencies and clients – lots of agencies seem to be complaining about ‘clients not being brave enough?’
I think its hard to generalise here. What is a fact is that marketers are under more pressure to deliver against clear targets today and this means that the creative must have the desired effect. The job of agencies is to continually generate ideas that are original, interesting but relevant as well. No client wants their communication to be ignored and its therefore implicit that ideas need to remain interesting if you want to be noticed.
Finally – what would you describe as the major challenges ahead for the next 12 month in terms of your new position, the state of the agency and the overall state of the industry?
I think the industry generally is still grappling with how best to produce integrated work for clients. There are a number of models in play at the moment and the race is on to see which approach to integration consistently delivers the best results. This will be a key focus area.
The other key challenge will be driving growth in an an industry that is delivering single digit top line growth at best.
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