#BigQ2020: It’s the evolution of the world as we know it… not the end!
by MarkLives (@marklives) What are the industry expectations for the marketing and advertising industry in 2020? A panel of key agency and marketing execs 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. Next up is Vodacom‘s Tumi Rabanye.
Tumi Rabanye (@tumirabanye), Vodacom music portfolio manager and former Brave Group head of strategy, has over 16 years’ experience in the marketing comms industry, both client- and agency-side. She cut her teeth in strategy, a discipline that inspired the entire trajectory of her career working across broadcast, telecommunications and public service campaigns. Tumi was recognised among the Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young List in 2014, was a 2019 AdFocus Awards juror and continues to consult in the content creation space.
If the rear-view mirror is anything to go by, the road ahead looks rocky still. Marketing budgets will continue to shrink as the major spenders aggregate and insource their creative output. From an agency-client point of view, the demand for deeper understanding of clients’ businesses in order to propose the right creative with returns is ever-increasing. The time for marketers (partners included) to learn and speak C-suite language is more crucial than ever now.
Change begins within
All of the above, in my mind, spells opportunity: a new way to raise the relevance of the agency-client relationship. However, I think the change begins within and this is my 5c of how:
1. Fear of change is not a viable solution
The description of the ad industry being in an “existential crisis” is one I’ve heard most frequently over the last two years, matched with the looming redundancy of strategy’s role which data and artificial intelligence (AI) will take over. It’s also one I’m loathed to embrace as I see the exponential changes we’ve all written about as a sign of the times we’re in. We’re not immune to change — there is no sense lamenting on how we will be impacted — but a proactive look at our agency models with the objective of agility would go a long way.
2. Rise to the occasion and be liberated from short-termism
The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is described as a time of exponential change catalysed by technology. The discussions I see and hear around the internet of things (IoT) are about how digital enablement will expedite technical problem solving, making room for critical and conceptual thinking and raising the impetus for the soft skills characterised by the humanities. Isn’t critical and conceptual thinking what the advertising… (reframe)… the marketing communications industry is about? The reorientation towards greater critical thinking, matched up with emotional intelligence, signals for me how creativity is back on the agenda to continually conscientise society — on climate change, socio-political issues or even why the composition of our FMCG products has changed. The invitation is for us to rise to the occasion and be liberated from short-termism in our thinking. As we solve for an immediate brief, let us consider the broader impact of our solutions.
3. Re-skilling for the future
The writing is on the wall for the urgency of reskilling “classical advertising agency” human resources for future fitness. In a world where creative agencies are on the radar of consultancies for acquisition, the indication is that creativity has gained in premium, not become endangered. In South Africa, however, the tendency is to maintain a myopic view of the world, where change is happening to us as opposed to us being its agents and we therefore remain under-skilled. Developing an appreciation for data and clients’ metrics of success is necessary. Exposure to the content world within telco was an incredible learning curve in efficacy of data in making creative decisions and deployment. I believe in the agency as we deepen the understanding of clients’ metrics and thus become empowered to co-craft and deliver work that gives reciprocal value.
4. SA is part of a network of markets… let’s act the part
SA is part of a constellation of gateway markets to the continent of Africa, along with Nigeria, Kenya, and Mauritius. The Loerie Awards property and Effies are proof of the broadening horizons. While it’s great to lean on localisation, the media landscape we serve is interconnected. One need only take the cue from the telcos and the MultiChoices of this world. Gone are the days when we were a singular, isolated market; even more so, gone are the days when clients’ budgets were deployed as such. Intensifying our value by understanding the regions we serve i, means accepting that EMEA, SSA and SADC are no longer the preserve of the “Africa” office. The reality is we are located at the southern tip of our great continent and we compete as such for global budgets.
5. Gender and so much more staying on the agenda
Feminism! Gender activism! Whatever you want to call it, two things are clear — as the world’s population is definitively majority female and more ethnically diverse, so it goes for Africa and SA. Today, representation is table stakes. Many a boardroom have I sat in where this echo of who our consumers are registers as an activist point, as opposed to a statement of fact. As the industry grapples with transformation in gender and diversity in its boardrooms and management structures; I think the creative challenge is to see output through a less-heteronormative lens. Needless to say, it’s a point I don’t tire of making and, for the purposes of future trends. I register this point as the basis for a creative revolution.
The world’s most-noteworthy global campaigns today demonstrate the audacity to challenge many of the existing heteronormative stereotypes, from disability to race and gender. In reality, the changes we’re witnessing aren’t an occasion; they’re who we’ve become, and it’s time to live it creatively, not only on Women’s Day, Africa Day, or Human Rights Day. Those are great for punctuation… but we have changed! Fact!
- #BigQ2020: A brave new world! — Prakash Patel
- #BigQ2020: Hello, blurred world! — Naeem Seedat
- #BigQ2020: A new decade of change in the advertising industry — Johanna McDowell & César Vacchiano
- #BigQ2020: A focus on the unchanging — Faheem Chaudhry
- #BigQ2020: The future is here — Jarred Cinman
- #BigQ2020: The rise of behavioural science — Rita Doherty
- #BigQ2020: Efficient vs effective — Marc Horne
- #BigQ2020: Client, agency expectations for 2020 — Keri-Ann Stanton
- #BigQ2020: 20/20 vision — Masego Motsogi
- #BigQ2020: It’s time we talked about money — Michelle Beh
- #BigQ2020: Speed to market in a cancel culture — Leigh Tayler
- #BigQ2020: Personal, visual & always visible — Shaune Jordaan
- #BigQ2020: Back to the future — Wayne Naidoo
Launched in 2016, “The Big Q” is a regular column on MarkLives in which we ask key advertising and marketing industry execs for their thoughts on relevant issues facing the industry. If you’d like to be part of our pool of panellists, please contact editor Herman Manson via email (2mark at marklives dot com) or Twitter (@marklives). Suggestions for questions are also welcomed.