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Yearbook Jan 2019

6 yearbook 2019 Can media agencies become ‘faster, better and cheaper’? Not surprisingly, politics is front of mind for many media agency heads as they turn their thoughts to 2019. It will also be a year dominated by digital and data developments, writes BRITTA REID after chatting to media agency bosses. Looking back at 2018, Chris Botha, group MD of Park Advertising, references Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. The year started off with “some really positive momentum – call it Ramaphoria, or whatever you like, the industry felt like we were kick-starting again – but the middle to end of the year has been a hard pull again. Very little organic growth, with a consumer that remains massively under pressure”. Josh Dovey, CEO of Africa, Omnicom Media Group SA, bluntly describes it as a “very difficult year for everyone” with a distressed economy affecting advertising spend and agency bottom lines. OMG was very conscious of costs to maintain profitability, but also continually developed its offerings to clients to help them stand out. Initiative Media CEO Marc Taback comments that political uncertainty caused clients to take a cautious approach to investment. More buoyant was Celia Collins, MD of Carat Johannesburg, who labels it as a “phenomenal year” in which her agency’s groundwork and pitching in 2017 came to fruition. Not surprisingly, politics is front of mind for many media agency heads as they turn their thoughts to 2019. While Botha expects “the most hotly contested elections in South Africa’s history” to be a dirty fight, characterised by mudslinging that will impact on consumer and investor sentiment, Dovey optimistically looks towards “a stable government, after the June elections, that is committed to some degree of economic reform and has the political legitimacy to make it happen”. Taback also proffers the possibility of more positive marketing investment post election. Strange mix Offering a salutatory newcomer’s perspective, Federico de Nardis, CEO of GroupM SSA, grappled with “understanding the logistics and the differences between South Africa and the other markets” he has worked in. He summarises South Africa as “a strange mix of old and new, a conservative and old-fashioned media approach and an innovative future-facing way of understanding and reaching consumers. The lack of growth in the market is probably blocking some investments, particularly within the industry research space that could help move the market to the next level”. Dovey remarks that the OMG agencies (OMD and PHD) are being given “a scope of work from clients that would have been unimaginable even three years ago” and points out that their success in diversification and delivery has led to OMG being recognised by RECMA as the biggest holding company in South Africa. See explanation on how RECMA works at the end of the story. He states that “if a media agency’s model is simply planning and buying ATL (above-theline) media, then they should pack up and go home”. Taback also mentions that clients are looking for a greater degree of partnership from their media agencies. Botha expands on this, saying, media agency there is a sense that 2019 will be a year dominated by digital and data developments


Yearbook Jan 2019
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