Ogilvy South Africa Group CEO Enver Groenewald
Ogilvy South Africa Group CEO Enver Groenewald
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On Marketplace Africa, CNN International’s Cyril Vanier spoke to Ogilvy South Africa Group CEO Enver Groenewald about the significance of digitisation and why authenticity is imperative for African consumers.

Reported as one of the world’s leading advertising firms, Ogilvy has spent decades on the African continent. Groenewald speaks about this association with the continent, and with South Africa in particular, “Ogilvy itself started in Africa in 1976 as a small agency in Cape Town and steadily grew to the point where, right now, we are situated in 24 countries across the African continent. I think that Ogilvy really introduced a type of advertising genre that spoke to social justice, that spoke to social unity, that spoke to really celebrating the best of a democratic South Africa. And I think that – that is where some of the most iconic work that Ogilvy has ever produced came to the fore.”

Like many businesses, Ogilvy has been dealing with new challenges posed by the pandemic. Groenewald believes that one of the largest problems for his industry in the last year has been the lack of face-to-face contact, “I think the biggest challenge has been the lack of physical interaction, both with the people that work within Ogilvy, as well as with clients. Everything is done via video call these days. I think that very often the video call becomes quite a sterile form of engagement between people. And I think that the advertising industry is very much an industry which thrives on people connecting with one another in the physical space.”

For Groenewald, authenticity is a key component of the advertising industry. He explains what this authenticity means in an African context, “I think we have an amazing wealth of talent across our continent. I think that when you look at advertising, communication, creativity through the lens of authenticity, then that levels the playing fields completely. If you’re a creative in Nigeria, in Lagos versus a creative in Accra, or a creative in Cape Town, you’ve got very, very different perspectives and very different definitions of authenticity.”

Innovation is also a crucial element for the advertising sector. Groenewald says that digitisation will be the most powerful foundation for innovation going forward, and that he sees Ogilvy South Africa leading the way, “The big issue is around digital transformation. The Ogilvy worldwide network is expressing great interest in what we’ve developed here in South Africa and wanting to replicate it and roll it out in other markets across the globe.”

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Finally, Groenewald discusses the company’s future, “Growth for us will come from developing and launching and offering new kinds of services to those new clients with new business models. If you look at Ogilvy as a traditional advertising agency, then we run the risk of locking ourselves into a particular legacy in a world that has changed far faster than we could have imagined.”

‘Marketplace Africa’ airs on Saturday 28th August at 0615 SAST on CNN International

The show also airs at the following times:

Sunday 29th August at 0530 SAST

Monday 30th August at 0430 SAST and 1845 SAST