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THE MEDIA SEP 2018 e-book

BELL AWARD Visionary researcher, innovator and certified technophile The Bell Award honours an individual who, though not working for a media owner or agency, has made an exceptional contribution to the betterment of the media sector. It acknowledges someone who is trustworthy, reliable, long serving, who you can turn to in times of conflict/ indecision and whom you can rely on to supply facts and back them up. By LUCINDA JORDAAN. As the winner of the third annual Bel Aw ard, Neil Higgs joins previous recipients Jos Kuper and Jonathan Shapiro in claiming his place as a maverick who leaves his mark on South Africa’s media landscape. And what a legacy he’s left! No stranger to the media industry, Higgs developed and introduced the new SEM (Socio-Economic Measure) household continuum, which replaces the long outdated and biased LSM (Living Standard Measure), as a more accurate reflection of South African society and lifestyles. A keen hiker and birdwatcher, Higgs graduated from Wits in 1972, with a B.Sc in Maths and Stats, and started his career with Lever Bros in what was then Salisbury, Rhodesia. He worked his way out of the economics and stats department after two years, and into the field that would define his life’s work: research. In 1980, he co-founded Probe Market Research, which led to him being head-hunted by Research Surveys in Durban in 1984. Legend has it that the offer was rather timeous, as Higgs had upset Zimbabwe’s minister of communication and the ZBC for the results of the first ever AMPSlike survey he ran in the country. A self-confessed technophile and gadget fundi who is permanently plugged into social media, Higgs recently retired as director of innovation and development at TNS Research, where he worked for over 30 years. As a SAMRA member for 28 years, he presented some 14 papers, won 10 awards and served as conference judge at SAMRA for two years. As former colleagues and peers attest, Higgs’ award is well deserved, and his legacy in media lives on… Lyn Jones, regional manager: In Touch Media, and Pan African Media Research Organisation (PAMRO ) “Neil is an innovative, out of the box rocket scientist – most certainly not your regular cookie cutter researcher. Incredibly creative, he constantly challenged the status quo – in the early days of OOH he used to approach me and provide the most way out solutions – not that they were ever applied, probably because they were so out of the box. OOH has great research now, and he’s a guru of both qualitative and quantative research. He challenges the status quo very casually, so suddenly you’ll see that there’s a fresh approach that no one’s ever considered. He keeps things fresh; he’s an exceptionally healthy person with a very healthy mind. And what many may not know is that his involvement in SEMs extends way back: he provided PAMRO with a framework for a revitalised LSM system into Africa – an anorexic version of SEM – about six or seven years ago…” Terry Murphy, managing director, Nielsen Watch SA “Neil is a wonderful person who’s done an enormous amount for the industry. He’s cut the direction of research for the South African media industry in a big way. Apart from the fact that he’s a highly qualified statistician, his practical application has turned into real gifts that the industry has used long term, such as the SEM model, which harmonises the standard of living measures across all African countries, which he is made available to the industry to use. The Media | wagthedog.co.za P 45


THE MEDIA SEP 2018 e-book
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