by Julie Pughe-Parry (@pugheparables) According to Prof Elaine Rumboll (@elainerumboll) the only way to overcome the double-edged nature of creativity is to embrace uncertainty. Once this has been done, marketers will have more success in tackling the challenges that arise in the everchanging landscape of adland.

Transferability of creativity

The founder and MD of The Creative Leadership Consultancy, Rumboll will be keynote speaker at this year’s Nedbank IMC Conference in Johannesburg — testament to the transferability of creativity across industries and disciplines, a principle well-acknowledged by her in her teachings. Rumboll’s own career has been shaped by this: not only is she a keen and driven academic, she is also an exceptional blues singer and an internationally published, award-winning poet.

Rumboll started out by hosting creative workshops at maximum security prisons before moving into the education sphere, where she held high-ranking positions such as dean of Damelin Management School and director of Executive Education at the UCT Graduate School of Business.With her experience in education and her passion for creativity, in 2011 she founded The Creative Leadership Consultancy.

Through masterclasses and focused workshops, the consultancy addresses the uncertainty within creativity by inspiring participants through play, agility, curiosity and energy. One method is Lego Serious Play, a process in which individuals are able to reflect on their decision-making through the act of play in a controlled environment.

“What is so interesting is that it’s often the people who are the most brilliant [who] go into that place of over-seriousness. To them, it matters so much that the work they do is considered incredible that they end up being alienated, burnt out, cynical, disengaged and actually incapable of creating things that are extraordinary anymore,” says Rumboll. “What play does is create a space where you can just laugh and try again.”

Advanced Creative Entrepreneurship Programme

At the moment, the consultancy is accepting applications to its Advanced Creative Entrepreneurship Programme later this year, which is specifically designed to help businesses overcome their sense of over-seriousness and to help them embrace play as a solution.

But it’s not only entrepreneurs who’ve grown out of touch with creativity; it’s something that’s experienced in all industries, especially in marketing. With ‘creativity’ finding its place among advertising buzzwords, Rumboll stresses the importance of maintaining its true meaning. “I think it’s something that is absolutely critical. Everything I do is in the service of creativity. They say that creativity won’t change the world but the world will change because of creativity and I just think that matters so enormously.”

In looking at South Africa’s marketing landscape, she explains that we need to shift from the idea that creativity is only for the creatives to acknowledge that creativity is for everyone.


Of several campaigns that she feels have carried the creative spirit she so endorses, the most poignant is the #NoExcuse campaign by Carling Black Label in 2018.

With the insight of domestic violence often being worsened by alcohol consumption, the classic beer brand responded by actively advocating against domestic violence — during the Soweto Derby, where excessive drinking often occurs. The advertisers were able to take the data and information at their disposal, and create a campaign with the potential to effect change.

This campaign has also reminded her of the importance of bravery in marketing. “When you bring on authenticity, spontaneity and vulnerability, you build trust. And what happens when you have trust? You have the capacity to create massive impact,” she points out.

Advice for marketers

Apart from embracing creativity and dispelling the fear of uncertainty, Rumboll has one more piece of advice for marketers: “Stop giving yourself a hard time. Stop beating yourself up. Sometimes, just pat yourself on the back a bit… because, really, you are our visionaries.”

See also


Julie Pughe-ParryJulie Pughe-Parry (@pugheparables) graduated from Vega Cape Town with a BA in creative brand communications in 2017. A copywriter by day and freelance content writer by night, she continues to pursue her passion for the craft of written word.”

MarkLives profiles South African marketers in its regular #Marketers column.

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