HKLM CONNECT, the newly formed advertising arm of South Africa’s biggest design shop, has managed to reverse the brain drain by luring a top South African back from overseas as executive creative director. He’s Ross Ventress, who spent 10 years in Singapore with Bartle Bogel Hegerty, had an opportunity in New York but decided on Johannesburg.
Why? “My wife and I never intended to emigrate but ended up staying in Singapore. We felt it was time to reconnect with home and our roots. Such great things are happening here and there’s a wonderful energy. The positivity far exceeds the negativity. I’d rather be dead than go to Australia.”
HKLM Connect opened for business in October 2007 and now has seven staffers and billings of around R15m. Clients include the University of Johannesburg, the Professional Provident Society, a Nedbank internal communications programme to 26 000 people, an event for Brands and Branding, Afribank in Nigeria and PK chewing gum.
“We’re trying to offer a seamless 360degree approach, with architects, designers, digital and above-the-line elements,” says agency MD Tracy Nethersole. “We have a dual role: offering an extra dimension to existing HKLM clients and building our own client base. We can go to above-theline pitches now, giving us an opportunity to build relationships with clients.”
Hot work for PK gum.