Why do our admen and adwomen do so well overseas? One of them explains
WHAT MAKES South African advertising creatives so special? Our talent can be found worldwide, occupying top jobs in agencies as far-flung as Shanghai, Sydney, New York, London and Paris. By general consensus our ad industry punches above its weight at international competitions. That immediately makes our winners marketable commodities on the world advertising stage. Take a big award at Cannes or the D&AD and you’re guaranteed an immediate job offer.
Few are better placed to explain it than Tony Granger, a graduate of the Hunt Lascaris finishing school back in the early Nineties and now one of the biggest names in global advertising. Dubbed “the man with the Midas touch”, his is a name that needs no explanatory caveat on Madison Avenue. Just say “Tony Granger” and everybody in advertising knows who you’re talking about. He’s made a speciality of resuscitating creatively moribund agencies. He turned around Bozell, previously a New York no-hoper, restored the flagging fortunes of Saatchi & Saatchi and has now turned Young & Rubicam into a creative hot-shop.
This year he chaired the press and film juries at Cannes. So if anyone knows why South Africans genre in South African terms. Rice proved adept at building a profile as a public speaker, radio personality and strategist, which had spinoff benefits for the company but also carried the danger his personal brand was stronger than the company’s.
That remained true even as Rice’s operational involvement with Yellowwood has declined since 2008, when a majority stake was sold to TBWA Worldwide. Revenue had quadrupled in four years and it sought a global platform. Crucially, the deal also provided an exit strategy for Rice and a growth strategy for Nash.
Nash has staffed up for the new challenges and has been joined at the top by group MD David Blyth, recently back from the Everstone Group in Britain. Rice stays on as non-executive chairman.
“We’ve recruited highly experienced people as well as seriously disruptive young blood to shake the tree and reinvent it,” Nash says. “We’re now teed up to grow aggressively and respond to changing customer behaviour and client needs. ” Reminiscent of Johnnie Walker whisky, “Our plan is to walk far, walk tall and walk sure.”