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 Odette van der Haar of the ACA.

Odette van der Haar

Odette van der HaarOdette van der Haar (@odette_roper) is the CEO of the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA), which is the recognised industry body of the advertising and communications profession in South Africa. It is a voluntary body formed both by and for the industry, focused upon and committed to self-regulation, and to defend the highest standards of ethical practice.

It was not long ago that Barack Obama said, “If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress”. On 6 May 2016, we celebrated another step toward such progress on our long and often hard-fought path toward transformation.

The journey effectively began on 23 February 2000; on this date, the CEOs of ACA member agencies formally committed to begin the process of transformation in earnest through the signing of a pledge. It culminated in the MAC Charter being promulgated under Section 9(1) of the BBBEE Act No 53 of 2003 and was written into law and gazetted on 6 May 2016.

Define our industry

It is this journey, this transformation process, that will define our industry in 2017. Not simply because of it being a legal requirement with a deadline set for 2018 but, rather, because we will see a heartfelt groundswell of support for transformation — ‘organic’ growth, if you will. A groundswell because of a collision between a heartfelt desire to change and legal requirements. This is a rare occurrence yet a necessary requirement for the achievement of real, effective change.

In the period prior to 2000, the government issued the industry with an ultimatum, a choice: begin the process to transform, or face regulation. The industry responded accordingly. From 2002 to 2014, the total percentage of black employees in the industry grew from 31.1% to 41.6%; executive positions held by black employees from 16.8% to 21.8%; and black females in the industry grew from 17.9% to 25.1%.

While this may reflect a level of change, we still have a long road to travel. The industry will need to truly transform in terms of ownership, too, and we have already seen changes coming to the fore. Plans and implementation of ownership structures are set to increase drastically this year, with a view to complying with the 2018 deadline. We will see increased funds being allocated to skills upliftment and education in the sector; this is a critical element within the process of transforming the industry. Its greatest value-add will be the birth of a very specific mind-set, one that recognises the importance of investing in the future of the profession and industry at large. For too long, brilliant creative minds have been excluded for economic reasons.

Deeply rooted

While 2016 may be viewed as a watershed year because of the gazetting of the MAC Charter, 2017 will be the year in which massive strides will be made. As new financial year budgets are planned and implemented, the sector is set to start on the new path to real and effective transformation. We will keep ‘walking along the right path’ until true and effective transformation is deeply rooted within the profession and the sector.


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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