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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  10 Oct 2016

ADVERTISING: Johannesburg Business Trailblazing Transformation in the Advertising Industry


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In the Southern African Business Review Volume 13 Number 3 2009 the advertising industry was heavily criticised for its slow empowerment advancement. Prior to this, the industry had come under fire in the early 2000s, with two parliamentary hearings to investigate allegations of racism and poor transformation progress within advertising agencies in South Africa.

For McCann Johannesburg, a 51% black-owned advertising agency, finally attaining a Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Level One accreditation in 2016 attests their commitment in effectively driving transformation in an industry that has been disturbingly slated for its lack of transformation. McCann Johannesburg is part of the global advertising giant Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG). In empowering South Africans, IPG partnered with Identity Partners on an investment, with McCann Johannesburg taking the black ownership to 51%.

At the helm of McCann Johannesburg is newly appointed Managing Director Archie Masebe. With over 16 years of experience under his belt in the Marketing, Advertising and Communication industry, Masebe is determined to see an overall transformation of not just McCann Johannesburg, but of the industry in its entirety. A firm believer that the commencement of transformation is not merely to tick the BEE certification box but that of a complete change of perceptions and attitudes, Masebe is proud that McCann Johannesburg has reached the remarkable milestone of attaining equality within their framework. Having worked in an array of industries, Masebe observed that transformation was an issue in the advertising industry and still received much condemnation. With this in mind, it was vital to be BBB-EE compliant in its contribution to transforming the industry.

Acknowledging that the achievement has not been an easy feat, Masebe comments, “The issue of positive transformation is at the forefront for McCann Johannesburg; it takes precedence over our own set vision. My role is to see McCann Johannesburg become a key player in the advertising industry. We are heavily invested in all the elements of the scorecard, thus no element plays second fiddle in priority to achieving total transformation.”

The partnership with Identity Partners reaffirms that McCann Johannesburg acknowledges and recognises the value of the voice of women in South Africa. Ironically, amongst the women who marched in the historic 1956 women’s march was Sophia Williams-De Bruyn, mother of Identity Partner Principal Director Sonja De Bruyn Sebotsa, who spearheaded the partnership with McCann Johannesburg. “There has never been a definitive moment for us as McCann Johannesburg to demonstrate our commitment to the advancement, retention and recruitment of women not only in leadership positions, but also at all levels throughout the agency. As we make progression to transformation, I would like to see more females take on major roles in the industry currently dominated by their male counterparts. Transformation in the industry is attainable; together we can shift perceptions and bring forth change,” says Masebe.

Though with an impressive 51% black ownership with 36% black female ownership, last year saw McCann fall into Level Four Accreditation. Guided by their mantra “Truth Well Told”, McCann Johannesburg embarked on an honest mission to unpack and rectify the elements that they were lagging behind on their BBB-EE scorecard.

On why it was vital to attain a Level One accreditation, Masebe says, “Compliance to the BBB-EE elements opens new doors for us. It is a win-win for those we do and also intend on doing business with. We believe that in transforming our own brand, we transform the industry. Empowering our own staff through skills development adds tangible value in contributing to the creative pool in the industry. McCann Johannesburg uses tools created by the McCann Worldgroup to develop internal programmes aimed at advancing creative development, business and commercial management acumen as well as skills necessary for strategic development. We also subscribe to the initiatives provided by the DTI for skills advancement through offering internship programmes in various departments throughout our agency. In this, we are able to play a meaningful role in the development and nurturing of black talent in our country.”

To attain favourable BBB-EE accreditation, McCann Johannesburg worked tirelessly on executing improvement in elements of Management, Employment Equity, Skills Development, Preferential Procurement, Enterprise Development, and Socio-Economic Development, in addition to the Ownership element that they had already scored highly on.

“As transformation begins to take form in South Africa, it is the responsibility of companies to be compliant and take accountability of the codes of good practice as a contribution to building a nation that champions past inequalities. McCann Johannesburg, in achieving Level One Accreditation, reaffirms the values of a company committed to transformation,” Masebe concludes.

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