It’s true that nothing ever stays the same. People, cultures, religions, and the ways in which we interact and communicate with each other are ever-changing – check out the new range of emojis if you don’t believe us. We’re connected in ways that were never thought possible and have access to more information streams than ever before.
It’s important, then, that we remain open to new news (and even fake news) if we are to thrive as agencies. We can’t possibly expect to hit the mark with our audiences by operating within the confines of the safety net of what we already know. ‘Tried and tested’ must fall.
If we are ever going to surpass the Drogarian heights of creativity and create meaningful work that adds value to both our clients and audiences, expecting what works for us today to work for us tomorrow is not the way to go about it. How then? You might ask.
Well, first, you could jot down a list of words and phrases to guide and keep you honest along the way: Reinvent, Refresh, Embrace the Unknown, Do Different, and so on. Problem is, even those feel like dated mantras used to spark new life into an agency. Another overtraded phrase.
Staying relevant and setting the pace in our industry, you see, is kak* difficult. Not only that, it’s also quite daunting, because now more than ever, our work is open to criticism from anyone and everyone who has 280 characters and is not afraid to use them.
Considering these challenges, and that even the next best thing is already old news, one could think that the creative industry is doomed, that the expectation to be relevant and to create meaningful, long-lasting connections between people and brands is unrealistic.
We don’t share that view. For us, it is a possibility. One that doesn’t depend on formulae, but a good understanding of how the world works today – and being brave enough to shape the way it looks tomorrow.
So, how can we thrive and create impact in a world that worships the new? We believe that it takes acknowledging where we come from while looking ahead – finding our gods in the past, present and future. If we combine the values of integrity, respect and hard work with the latest technology, platform thinking and philosophy, we might just have a fighting chance.
Our understanding is that true creativity is not a flash of inspiration. Rather, it is the culmination of knowledge, teamwork, experience, risk, exploration and research, into a moment of confidence and insight that allows brave thinking to take shape.
Being brave then, is not only a matter of doing, but also a way of thinking.
Brave is also a way of working. Our assembly of specialist companies, for example, is born from a shared idea that organisations need to approach the world differently to create better ideas; ideas that will carve the way for our clients to gain resonance with their consumers beyond the 30-second ad, activation or social-media post.
Working independently or as a group, we can guide them towards more interesting, braver solutions to business challenges. This collaborative process enables us to put the consumer and client at the heart of the conversation, uncover the deep opportunities and create new dialogue that leads to better results.
Diversity is another one of the key drivers of this approach. When a group of people with different backgrounds, cultures, nationalities, experiences, languages and exposure levels get together in a room, incredible things can happen.
It’s this kind of Progressive Diversity that will allow us to entrench the magic that happens when we bring different people into our building along with the consumer and client, and be a truly Pan-African Inspired Agency for the new world. To get there, we have to be brave.
If we are brave enough to accept that we don’t know it all, we might learn another way.
If we are brave enough to let our guard down, we might be pleasantly surprised at how well we can collaborate. If we are brave enough to question everything, we might find all the answers.
And if we are brave enough to let everyone in, we might be able to figure out what makes the world tick.
At a glance...
• Founded 2011
• Principles Karabo Songo, group chief executive officer; Andrew Shuttleworth, group chief operating officer; Andile Khumalo, group chairman
• Staff 105
• Location Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa
What’s the best work you’ve seen in the past 12 months?
Nike’s recent films "Dream Crazy" and "Dream Crazier". Not only do they remind us that the prejudices and sufferings many athletes face are no different to yours and mine, but they also challenge us to break through our own adversities.
What’s the best application of Voice you’ve heard?
The Facebook AI studio, looking at how to make Facebook more inclusive, asked what Facebook is like for people who can’t see. This drove it to come up with a version of Facebook that can "read" all the information on a feedback back to a user – in effect using audio to make the platform more inclusive.
How can agencies keep great people?
1) set a SMART goal for the organisation and its individual people that is easy to understand and action. 2) Provide the resources required to achieve the goals. 3) Reward people for value created, not hours spent on the job. 4) A clear career/growth plan for the talent within the business.
Thibedi Meso is executive creative director partner, Brave Group