The creative industry in South Africa is in a good place. We’re delivering quality work at a good price, and while the industry is young, it’s growing fast.
Schools and design studios have emerged teaching the craft, and the Cape Town CBD has been transformed into a creative hub of burgeoning talent, ripe with hungry entrepreneurs embracing a start-up mentality.
Make no mistake: The advertising industry in South Africa is being taken seriously – and it shows.
But if anything, location is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Just because you’re based in South Africa doesn’t mean you should limit yourself, and the power of the internet means you can cultivate relationships – and create work – for clients anywhere in the world.
Thanks to a common language and a favourable time zone, one place in particular stands out: The UK.
What does South Africa offer? Quality work at a good price
As an Englishman living in South Africa, I have worked for clients like Coca Cola, Nike, Toyota, Johnnie Walker, Microsoft and local powerhouses like Sanlam. I began my career in the UK, W+K London and Euro RSCG before moving to Cape Town nine years ago to lend my expertise to agencies like The Jupiter Drawing Room and Isobar South Africa. Earlier this year, I embraced entrepreneurship by starting my own venture: Area 213 Communications.
As a foreigner living in South Africa, this is my observation: the industry is bigger in the UK but not necessarily better. More choice doesn’t equal a superior end product. Clients’ needs are still the same. They want innovative thinking and quality work delivered on time at a good price.
While the industry in South Africa is smaller, we have the tools and expertise to deliver work that’s comparable – if not better – than Europe.
But our number one selling point? We’re cheaper.
The exchange rate presents a value proposition any entrepreneur would be mad to pass up. While we can protect our margins and enjoy living in a beautiful country, we help clients abroad by delivering quality work at a price that makes them happy.
It’s a win-win for both parties.
Geographically, we’re well-positioned
What do clients want? They want to know that you’re taking care of them and producing great work. If there’s an issue, they want to be able to pick up the phone, speak to the agency and leave the call free of stress.
Invariably, brands in the UK and Europe will look to agencies in their own country – and often their own city – for simple peace of mind. If there’s a problem, they know they can get assistance from someone who can pick up the phone and address their concerns right away.
The beauty of South Africa is that clients can do that, only they’re using Google Hangout, Skype, or a landline. There are no tricky time zone differences to navigate. The spoken language is English, and the accent is easy to understand. Culturally, we’re very similar too. In fact, South Africans are naturally hardworking, and the UK appreciates that.
The number one challenge? Boosting our name
So, let’s get this clear. We can deliver great work. We can do it very competitively. And we’re in the same time zone as all major European countries. We’re not four hours ahead like India, or eight hours behind like the Americas. We have a beautiful milieu ripe with creative talent and we’re growing.
So, what’s stopping us? If anything, reputation. Advertising is a results-driven business, but it’s also image-conscious.
At the moment, South Africa is a market unfamiliar to Europe. The trick is cultivating relationships with people who are key stakeholders in brands abroad.
That’s difficult if you’re not familiar with the market, but not insurmountable. South Africa is an attractive proposition, but too few clients know that.
We need to raise the profile of the country abroad, because in the end, it all comes down to the quality of the work you’re delivering. No client in the world will turn down great work at a price that’s lower than they’re expecting to pay – irrespective of geography.
Related: 9 Tips For Creating An Awesome Brand
The key is to remove the barrier to entry and to get over the first hurdles: The small, very human quirks that prompt brands to choose agencies they’re familiar with, rather than agencies that can save them money.
My goal with Area 213 Communications is to nurture an advertising agency with a global approach to business and one that values the importance of the entrepreneurial spirit. I hope many of my peers will follow suit, putting South Africa on the map in the process.
Consumers Don’t Have An Attention Problem. It’s Just That Your Advertising Isn’t Very Good
With so much media available to consume, quality matters more than ever for ads.
If a brand releases an ad and no one sees it, is it still called “advertising”?
People have more tools than ever before to skip out on ads entirely. More than three-fourths of the people in North America engage in automated ad-blocking, and 10 percent of them block ads across four kinds of media or more, according to Deloitte. Much like the question of trees falling in forests, what good is a brand’s message at a time when people generally don’t want to hear its sound?
Ad units are shrinking in the wake of ad-blocking technology, but human attention span remains unchanged. Today’s consumers are surely more distracted than any previous generation, so they guard their attention spans more mercilessly. When advertisers can successfully command that attention for a minute or two, it means the consumer is watching an ad for the same reason he or she binge-watches Stranger Things on Netflix: The ad has managed to present itself as relevant or vital to the viewer. It wins every time.
Just 10 years ago, Gillette dominated the razor blade market. Its ads were comfortable, predictable 30-second units that reminded everyone of something they already knew: You need razor blades on the regular, so you might as well buy Gillette.
Related: Advertising Consulting Business Plan
But, the market had to reorganise itself with the appearance of Dollar Shave Club and its distinctly off-the-wall messaging. The notorious startup used quirky 90-second ads to spread its word online, presenting itself as unignorable by comparison to the competition. Even though we live in a time when people can skip ads, block ads and avoid ads, Dollar Shave Club’s marketing won major viral attention. It didn’t exactly kill Gillette’s Goliath, but it sure made Goliath sweat.
The lesson here is that people don’t hate all ads, they just hate the crappy ones. The bar for perceived quality in advertising is so low these days that many choose not to engage with anything on principle alone. People even close web pages they want to visit when the page auto-plays a video ad. When job number one of the advertiser is to interest consumers, it’s never been easier to annoy them.
Far from the rise of the six-second ad unit, there’s strong evidence that people generally want long-form content.
Ooyala reports that long-form video content consumption is up 30 percent from last year. Instagram used to be all about sharing individual photos and short videos, but now with the launch of IGTV supports 60-minute videos. The most widely subscribed YouTuber, PewDiePie, regularly posts 20-minute-long videos to a community of millions of fans. Joe Rogan’s podcast blends comedy, politics and philosophy for two to three hours at a stretch, and is one of the most popular podcasts on the internet.
People can, of course, handle stories and follow them over time. It’s one of the defining characteristics of humanity. But, there are so many stories competing for our attention nowadays that we are extremely selective about which ones we let into our lives. If any of these opt-in narratives will come from advertising, those ads must first run the ad-blocking gauntlet, then be immediately relevant and spectacular to the consumer upon arrival. The bar for perceived quality in advertising these days is actually quite high.
But, there is meaningful assistance on your way to clearing it. Social listening tools trawl the internet to learn what’s being said about and around different brands. With help from a company specialising in consumer insights and some Nielsen data, brands can better learn who their customers are, what they love and what they don’t love. This is key information in designing a vital, relevant message. In simplest terms, a brand must know its audience. The marketing needs to reflect what the audience is interested in, not what company leadership is interested in.
From there it’s only a matter of iterating and optimising. The great thing about digital advertising is that you get feedback instantly. You can iterate a campaign to make it better. Simple tweaks in copy, reframing key ideas and A/B testing can help make your campaign truly great.
Otherwise you run the risk of a mediocre campaign and a wasted media spend. No one wants to hear that sound.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
6 False Advertising Scandals You Can Learn From
Don’t stretch the truth the way Volkswagen, New Balance, Airborne, Splenda, Rice Krispies and Red Bull did.
New entrepreneurs are often tempted to exaggerate what new products or services are capable of. No wonder: Presented to a powerful investor, a stretch of the truth just might help land that series A funding.
And, less seriously, a bit of marketing flair or showmanship, in many cases, will help an entrepreneur accomplish his or her without many repercussions.
But, in other cases, if you’re that entrepreneur who is caught deliberately misleading investors or consumers, you could face false advertising charges – and the ruin of your brand’s reputation. Consider these six examples:
Forget Everything You’ve Heard — Fear Doesn’t Sell
If consumers associate your product with fear, they may not have a strong connection to your brand.
Sixty percent of Subaru owners have dogs. So in 2008, when the company decided to sponsor Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl, it made a major break from previous advertising campaigns — ones that showed drivers with other cars getting stuck in the snow, for example. Alongside a pledge to donate $250 to charity for every car sold, the company began to understand how to appeal to its core audience through their own interests — and how those tied together in a Subaru.
Since 2008, the company has been running a campaign called “Love,” one that brings together all the attributes that Subaru is known for — including safety and reliability. Instead of talking to customers by telling them all the bad things that will happen if they don’t drive a Subaru (e.g., getting stuck in the snow), the company began speaking in a more positive language — including bringing furry friends along on drives.
For many, the instinctive approach toward marketing is to tell an audience why they have to buy your product. Bad things will happen otherwise, and yours is the best in market. The others won’t help you reach your goal. The problem with that logic is that it doesn’t take into account the impact of brand image on product marketing. Sure, you might skid in the snow without a Subaru, but you need to think positively of the company as a whole if you’re going to be drawn to its products in the first place.
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