If you’re in the local advertising game then you’ve most probably heard of ididthatad.com, an online industry showcase and search tool that links agencies with local creatives worth noticing. Finweek caught up with Julie Maunder, former executive creative director of DDB Cape Town and the brains behind the platform, to talk about leaving agency life to start her own gig and what’s next for ididthatad.com.
You’ve launched a site for industry creatives – what inspired the need for this site and how did you go about doing that?
Before we launched the site three years ago, advertising creatives looking to hire freelancers, part-time and full-time staff for projects would have to sift through outdated reels or rely on recommendations from art buyers or producers, which became a lengthy, labourintensive process that was not always effective. Ididthatad.com bridged that gap by creating a platform that provided agencies with an extensive database of sought-after industry creatives and places all their portfolios into one space, making it easier and faster to source reliable and reputable talent.
Three years ago you were a successful creative director working for some of the more formidable agencies in the country. Why did you decide to leave the agency life behind?
It wasn’t so much a decision to leave agency life but more a reaction to a market opportunity that I spotted and couldn’t resist. After 11 years in the industry, I saw a gap and a solution to a problem that I as a creative director was experiencing at the time. I loved creating in the ad world, but I wanted to create and work on something that would make a difference to people’s lives, and something that I could be personally passionate about. It also made sense to me to work on a business model that wasn’t time based, and I had reached a point where I wanted to work on something that could grow into a sustainable business and not just work longer hours.
How do sites like ididthatad.com make money?
Like many online businesses, we began by testing the concept in the market, initially launching the site with no real business model to see who would use it and
how. Once we gauged the response, we launched premium products like the SA Film Reel, and began producing specialist content pieces including Cannes and Loeries Predictions. This enabled us to build up a niche targeted subscriber base of engaged users, as well as to partner up with sponsors and to create additional revenue streams.
With the launch of the new site later this year, we’ll be adapting the business model according to what we have learnt so far. It’s an organic process of learning what works and then adapting to that.
What’s your biggest gripe with the local industry right now?
When our creatives win big awards, many seem to think that the answer to their next move is to go overseas. As a result of this grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side view, we’re losing a lot of our top talent.
We’re also pushing our creatives, our strategists and our clients to improve their work and to think differently, but we don’t rethink the way we charge for the work. It has been the same since I began in the industr y and I ’m sure for many years before that.
Who are you currently partnering with, and what can we expect from you over the next year?
We’re taking what we’ve learnt over the years and using that to launch our new site, which we aim to roll out at the end of the year. We started out as a localised ad industry database, but now we’re expanding to include all creative projects, which is why we’ll be dropping the ‘ad’ i n our brand name and pivoting to ididthat.net.
We’re also currently working with both the Loeries and the Creative Circle (SA’s advertising board) in a collaborative effort to promote and execute great content (and great ideas) for the advertising industry, so we’ve got a very exciting year ahead with a lot of new developments in the pipeline.
Do you have any advice for those who want to go it alone?
Start – a great idea is only an idea until you start working on it. If the idea doesn’t scare you, it’s not worth starting. Be agile and adapt to cir- cumstances. Learn from feedback and use this to guide your next step. Work with people who are better than you, speak to as many as possible. Fail fast and learn quickly. Oh, and it helps to have a trust fund ( I don’t!) or to find friends willing to help do the work for free (I do).