African chutz­pah

Why do our admen and ad­women do so well over­seas? One of them ex­plains

Finweek English Edition - - ADVERTISING & MARKETING -

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.”

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