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Originally scheduled to take place in March 2020, the sold-out Nedbank IMC 2020 went virtual on 24 July 2020 as the first-of-its-kind virtual marketing conference in Africa. 

With 1 200 delegates logging in on the day, the conference trended on Twitter as it screened its stellar line-up of 18 speakers live. Speakers presented seamlessly from green screen studios in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Miami and London. The conference achieved an overall rating of 92% (Excellent/Very Good) from delegates on the day and is being lauded as the new virtual conference benchmark.

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‘We knew we should not sulk in a corner when the pandemic hit. We had to come out with all guns blazing and spare no expense in offering delegates a world-class and unique experience,’ said Dale Hefer, IMC Chief Executive Officer.

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Highlights from the day included the keynote address by Fernando Machado, Global Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for Burger King, who streamed live from Miami. He gave an inspiring address that made a strong case for creativity in the industry. Fernando acknowledged that creativity does not happen overnight, but rather needs to be cultivated slowly and with meaning. He acknowledged the importance of ensuring your brand is nimble and that it can respond to what is happening in the world, naturally and with relevance.

Mzamo Masito, CMO for Google Africa, took on the theme of ‘Marketing Works’ with a controversial presentation. He challenged the status quo in terms of race and gender inequality in the South African marketing industry.

Patrick Collister, author and speaker closed off the conference live from London. He peppered his presentation, entitled ‘Seven new rules for making marketing work’ with humour and honesty, perfectly rounding off the line-up of world-class speakers for the day.

Other speakers included Andy Rice, Alistair King, Andrea Quaye, Nthabiseng Matshekga, Zumi Njongwe, Lee Naik, Nandus du Plessis, Lee den Hond, Verusha Maharaj, Fahmeeda Cassim-Surtee, Amanda Cromhout, Mpume Ngobese and Suhana Gordhan. Pepe Marais, Group Chief Creative Officer for Joe Public United, added gravitas to the event as he once again acted as Master of Ceremonies.

During the day several live polls were undertaken, with interesting results. Some 42% of those polled said that awards do not matter. 38% of delegates felt that the reason why two out of three CEOs distrust their chief marketing officers is because marketers do not deliver measurable results. Almost 71% felt that creativity is lacking in the industry because clients are too nervous to push it. A total of 47% of delegates said the biggest issue facing marketing in South Africa is a lack of diversity.

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Khensani Nobanda, Nedbank’s Group Executive for Marketing and Corporate Affairs summed up her take on the day: ‘We could not be prouder of the calibre and innovation of the conference.’  

Remarkably, a poll asking delegates whether they would prefer a virtual or real conference in 2021 ended up at literally 50/50.

‘What will 2021 bring? Watch this space,’ says Hefer.