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Advertising: Bucking the trend

By Gregory Mthembu-Salter ?in Cape Town
Posted on Thursday, 23 December 2010 12:01

Southern African spending ?is defying the recession as consumer demand attracts top agencies ?– and campaigns get more feisty

Africa stormed the boards at last year’s Cannes Lions

International Advertising Festival. TBWASouth Africa’s “Trillion

Dollar” campaign scooped up an unprecedented nine awards, including a

Titanium Lion, the advertising world’s equivalent of an Oscar. This

year, pickings were much thinner. Ogilvy South Africa’s Gold Lion was

the continent’s only award at the annual gala, held in late June.

Ogilvy’s winning spot was an advert for The Topsy Foundation which

showed the dramatic recovery of an AIDS patient on anti-retroviral


New edginess?

The Trillion Dollar campaign was entirely African

in its conception, artfully using sackfuls of worthless Zimbabwean

banknotes to promote an exile newspaper, The Zimbabwean. The paper and

its advertising firms erected huge billboards made entirely of

banknotes, with a stencilled message from The Zimbabwean castigating

President Robert Mugabe. This was complemented by distribution at

traffic lights of more bills stamped with similar tag-lines and The

Zimbabwean‘s logo. The campaign quickly made it into print media and TV

and then the internet, giving it a reach out of all proportion to the

limited means used for its conception.

Slating your government from the

safety of exile is one thing, but trying it through advertising in the

same country is quite another. Most advertising agencies on the

continent avoid political references in their commercial campaigns,

except in South Africa, where it is still possible to mock the powerful

and get away with it. Last year, fast-food chain Nando’s, known for its

quick-witted advertising copy, caused a stir with a TV ad in which

African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema

demanded ‘change’, apparently meaning extra coinage from a proffered

note. A weak pun for sure, but the ANCYL took up the matter, accusing

Nando’s of racism and generating massive coverage for the advert and the



Vasco Rocha?

Managing director of DDB Mozambique

The Africa Report: How big is your company?

Vasco Rocha: We employ about 70 people.

Who are your main clients??

Most of our clients are Mozambican, but we have international clients, too, like Nokia and Standard Bank. Our big local clients include M-Cel and Banco de Moçambique.

Is there anything that marks out the Mozambican advertising
industry compared to others on the continent??

I think the big difference is that there is a better integration of all the disciplines here. In
Mozambique, you can get everything you need from one company. For example, for Mozambique Fashion Week we bring in the stars, interview them, film everything and connect everything to everything.

Is there much Brazilian influence on Mozambique?

Ninety-nine percent of the soaps on TV here come from Brazil. There is a growing Brazilian community involved in all sorts of areas: construction, management – you name it. But there has not been such a deep penetration of Brazilian products yet. The soaps might be Brazilian, but the ads in the middle are for South African, Portuguese and local products.

What is the value of the advertising industry in Mozambique? ?

I reckon it’s about $50m. This is a low figure, but it’s growing fast every year. While the industry is still a bit slow, it is certainly up and running. With new investment each year, we are hopeful.

This year, budget airline Kulula took a similarly feisty

approach to FIFA and its draconian intellectual copyright laws, which

prohibited anyone but authorised sponsors from using the words ‘2010

World Cup’ in almost any context. Kulula’s response was to advertise

promotions declaring “Not Next Year, Not Last Year But Somewhere In

Between”, with pictures of vuvuzela-look-alikes described as golf tees

and a man apparently playing football but said to be “doing the Hokey

Cokey”. FIFA threatened court action but later desisted, denying Kulula

free publicity from the trial.

Global spending in advertising will

total around $451bn this year, of which Africa and the Middle East’s

share will be about $15.4bn, according to GroupM, the world’s largest

media-billing network. This is 8.2% higher than in 2009, making Africa

and the Middle East one of the world’s fastest-growing regions for

advertising spending. Asian ad spend growth will be even higher, at

around 13% in 2010, but Africa’s growth level compares favourably with

Western Europe’s 2.1% and North America’s -1%.

“Judging by ad spend,

Africa largely dodged the bullet on the global recession,” says Rick de

Kock, director of TBWA’s Africa network. GroupM forecasts a further 6.7%

in Africa’s ad spend growth in 2011.

Despite rising Chinese investment

in the continent, there has been little spin-off yet for the advertising

industry. “TBWA doesn’t have any Chinese clients in Africa yet,” says De

Kock. “But this may come. At the moment, Chinese companies are dealing

mostly with infrastructure and aren’t too focused on branding.”?


more noise

South Africa’s annual spending on advertising is around

$3.5bn, 23% of the Africa and the Middle East total. There was a major

boost from the 2010 FIFA World Cup, according to Dele Odugbemi, media

officer for Ogilvy South Africa. “The initial increase in spend came

from the tournament sponsors. But when noise levels rise, everyone

struggles to be heard. Everyone had to up their spending.”


know the importance of local specificity. Johannesburg is the hub of

TBWA’s African operations, but de Kock says that the company wants to

avoid treating other affiliates as outposts. Working together is easier

said than done, particularly when it comes to bridging the

Anglophone/Francophone divide. TBWA has three Francophone affiliates.

One is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the company

riskily took on both Joseph Kabila’s and Jean-Pierre Bemba’s campaigns

in 2006, while the others are in Gabon and Côte d’Ivoire. Ogilvy has

wider representation in Francophone Africa and runs a division out of


In late April, Ogilvy’s parent group, Ogilvy & Mather,

entered into a joint venture with Scangroup, an associate of WPP, to

create Ogilvy Africa. The venture is based in Nairobi rather than

Johannesburg. Ogilvy South Africa acts in a stand-alone capacity, though

with continued responsibility for countries like Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Recently back from a trip to Zimbabwe, de Kock is upbeat: “Everyone

there is very confident that things are improving and we can see that

advertising is picking up. Agencies shrank hugely during the crisis, in

some cases from 70 staff to just seven, so everyone left is a survivor.”

Nevertheless, spending levels, at about $100m, remain strong.


fast-growing countries to watch: Angola and Mozambique. Angola’s economy

has shown spectacular growth in recent years, and consumption levels are

rising quickly. Its media advertising alone was estimated at $58m in


This article was first published in the October-November 2010 edition of The Africa Report