The strangest thing happened to me the other day. Driving to work, I
spontaneously blurted out the phrase: “Who do you have to thank? Boland.
Boland Bank.’ I had a marketing ghost living inside of me. An advertising pay-off
line audaciously stored in some distant vault in my mind. Sadly, I did not invite it
in, nor was it even intended for me to remember.
Certainly, for years, I was doing what the rest of the country was: sitting,
soaking up anything that flashed in front of me on the family Telefunken. You
don’t have to think too hard to remember all the bits from other TV ads. They
were ingrained in you and a part of life. They were entertainment in an
entertaining medium – makes you think, doesn’t it?
It’s hard to imagine that the internet’s already been around for 20 years in
South Africa. It’s shifted the human race in less than half a generation. We hear
the jargon all the time: The Global Village, User-Generated Content, Social
Media… The world has become a frenzy compared to a tube with a piece of glass
Television showed the way. We were able to randomly place our brand
messages in between simply planned spaces. We made ads that enhanced the
viewing experience. Ads everyone remembered. Advertising creativity enhanced
the television experience. We have now gone and applied the principle of
flooding the media to digital channels. We are scaring everyone off and are far
One of South Africa’s ad greats recently gave a talk where he captioned a
brand’s role as “dancing with the consumer’. A great analogy for what we
should be trying to do every day.
The Cannes Lions introduced the Branded Content category only two years ago
– a clear signal as to how we should be thinking. The idea of agencies and
brands becoming content creators probably signals the most exciting time for all
of us. It is the injection needed to get more interesting, creative people into our
industry, as well as new positions, which were always limited to writers and
You won’t find branded content on too many media strategies or creative briefs.
Not just yet. Marketers need to take chances with budgets and start pushing for
content experimentation. We have the opportunity to be the entertainers in any
We need to draw the elusive, digital era bourgeoisie out, create the flame, shine
the light and hold their attention in our palm.