Nedbank IMC media partner, Modern Marketing, virtually attended the 2020 Nedbank IMC Conference, which took place on 24 July 2020 under the theme #MarketingWorks.

Pepe Marais, co-founder and Group COO of Joe Public United, was the Master of Ceremonies. Marais said that industry players should focus on what they can control, such as: creative product, quality, excellence, delivery and turnaround times to clients.

‘The more I focused on what I could control, the more I worked with my partners in business, with our teams, and together with our clients to deliver on their demands to the best of our ability. The more our company only focused on that and worried less about the by-product, which is money, or the sales, the more I find it easier to manage this time. That is going to be a huge insight for me going forward: to focus on what I can control and on creative excellence. The rest must just fall.’

Pepe Marais, co-founder and Group COO of Joe Public United.

Speaker highlights:

Andy Rice: strategist, writer and speaker

He shared his effective brand strategy model, comprising of four quadrants that represent a component of every successful, sustainable and change-resistant brand:

Profitable – marketing is a commercial enterprise.
Fulfilment – the ease of working a supply chain should be as strong a determinant of the brand’s success as the promise of the brand itself.
Unmet – there is no such thing as a commodity market, only a commodity mindset.
Needs – find a true need in the consumer’s lives, rather than in their category of behaviours.

Alistair King: co-founder and CCO of the King James Group

He suggested that 10% of what the advertising industry creates across all mediums and channels is good to excellent (compelling and persuasive). A further 20% of what the industry does is solid-to-good (functional, effective and conveys useful information to the consumer but is not necessarily inspiring). The remaining 70% is rubbish.    

Most of the work produced is not because of the absence of bravery but rather the presence of a myriad of other forces that get in the way. He described the different types of advertisers using blankets called ‘king comforters: the no hanky-panky blankies’.

The ultimate blankie that can save marketers and advertisers is the uber blankie: it does not looking comforting and offers no protection, no security and there is nowhere to hide, but that is the whole point. Innovative thinking and ideas that have no precedent are not comfortable and leave you feeling exposed – that is what leaps of faith feel like.

Acts of intuition and trust will always come at a degree of exposure and risk. When you do make tough calls that lead to magnificent advertising, everyone can see you and you are the one that is credited. And is that not what you really want? He said advertisers attend conferences and celebrate great work but then go back to their offices and shrink back into their comfort zones. You can decide today which path you want to take.

He closed off with a quote that read, ‘I would rather lose my job in an ambitious blaze of glory than spend my life in that cold, soul destroying place called obscurity.’

Andrea Quaye: Jury President IAB Bookmark Awards and marketer at large

Quaye mentioned that brands need to pay attention and particular care to the user experience they create from the moment the consumer browses to the moment they receive and unbox your product.

Regarding the future of marketing, she said the power has been shifting to retailers through e-marketing and that the pandemic has greatly accelerated this shift. South Africa is significantly behind the US and China, but there has been a huge growth figure in traffic and basket size.

History continues to move faster than ever and moments will continue to change faster than ever. The more moments change, the more the fundamentals of marketing become super important. These include:

Meet real needs: understand the role of your brand and the role it plays in people’s lives, this can be functional or emotional, but ideally have a functional role with an emotional connection. Analyse the brand memory structure and how it is expressed in the new context. When the crisis hit, your brand needed to be able to tap into its true ethos. This is something that brands should be building over the years.

Always build: build your brand at every moment, if you are not, you are just postponing an inevitable unhappy ending. Sometimes the adversity comes in the form of massive disruption but more often it comes as steady shifts in the market (economic or consumer preferences).

Stay true: whether it be your brand purpose or ethos – whatever name you give to what your brand stands for, you must stay true to it, before, during and after the crisis. Brands that are clear about what they stand for get stronger when a crisis hits.

Nthabiseng Matshekga, Executive Head: Group Marketing, Nedbank

Matshekga addressed using your purpose as a brand to communicate meaningfully in times of uncertainty, and using purpose-led marketing to define what you do as a brand beyond just making money. 

She highlighted how a brand, such as Nedbank, lives their purpose to deepen their relationship with customers by putting out the kind of marketing that people cannot watch without mirroring themselves. This was done by having consumers interrogating their relationships with money, and start talking about money, which is one of the hardest things to talk about.

Purpose-led campaigns should:
– Link to clear insight.
– Be intrinsically linked to the brand purpose.
– Use first party-data for a targeted approach and to build much more relevant solutions and benefits for customers.

Zumi Njongwe, Consumer Communication and Marketing Excellence Director, Nestlé

Njongwe said businesses are perceived to be prospering at the expense of their communities and other issues. Businesses’ role in corporate responsibility has not yielded much gain, perhaps this is because their view of creating value is outdated and grounded in optimising their gains. ‘As Marketers we can no longer stand on the sidelines, we have roles that are connected to the societies in which we live, the communities in which we exist and the environment in which we operate.’

We must look at how we lead and are shaping the future. Marketing is important because it plays a critical role in shaping culture. Today more that ever, we must reconstruct our world. We are living in a lot of pandemics: gender-base violence, Black Lives Matter, The Trump effect, Covid-19 and a recession.

Stop looking at shareholder value and drive a new framework by moving ourself into shared-value:

– Reconceive brands and portfolios.
– Redefine productivity in the value chain.
– Build a supportive industry in agencies.

All three are relevant to marketers because the story they tell about their brands are not just that of communication, but the end-to-end story that comes from where the brands are sourced and where they go. However shared value shows up it, need to shape and create the world we live in.

Lee Naik, CEO TransUnion Africa

Naik said that technology and data used to be a driving force. Now he thinks less of those and more of the difference that the company wants to make. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the future ‘new-normal’ to the current way of working. If you thought that omnichannel was something in the future and mobile devices were just a part of your strategy – it is now the only strategy.

Marketing has shifted, and how customers work and behave has changed, so we need to think omni-choice: get rid of the predetermined journeys that are set-up for consumers. You do not own the customer, as we live in a world that shares the economy and we all own different stages of the value chain. Look for a way that allows customers to consume your product better. 

– Get to know your customer and know that they are human.
– Look at outcomes that matter by trying to solve the actual problems that your customers have.
– Embrace data by figuring out who these customers are and use data to answer the right questions.

Nandus du Plessis, Founder, Crazy Ginger Consulting

Consumers live in a world where they do not know where they are getting communication from, but they are exposed to it. Channels are just a way of consuming content, and it is important that we change our systems and processes to deliver on this.

Evolve consumer segmentation: make the consumer a co-creator of the brand instead of a spectator through day-to-day optimisation of consumer segmentation. For example, Codec enables you to update your consumer segmentation on a daily basis – looking at your traditional target segmentation and then adding Behaviours and Values, Symbols and Social organisations to fundamentally change the way that you look and target the consumer.

Get a great tech-stack: social, email, web, mobile, print, video, voice, point of sale and face to face. Keep in mind that relevancy and personalisation can create about 10% of additional revenue. The consumer is complex and more demanding than ever before, therefore you need an omnichannel structure. So make sure that you optimise every part of the customer journey to deliver the most amazing experience.

Lee den Hond, CEO Blue Platinum Events and third South African woman to summit Mount Everest

Challenge your passion: Den Hond cited an anonymous quote stating, ‘If the same thing excites you today, is what excited you five years ago, then you are in serious trouble.’ 

360 degrees: there are a lot of resources at our fingertips, whether you are an entrepreneur in your first year or 20th year, there is so much out there. 

True currency: Pay attention, this is true currency. As Buddha says: ‘The trouble is, you think you have time.’ But  there is no more time. Make a decision and make it today.

Verusha Maharaj: advertising and marketing lead at Deloitte Consulting South Africa

Focus on three things that stand out when it comes to consumer engagement:

1. Communication is key: 65% of consumers indicated that their likelihood of purchasing would be based on how well the brand responds to the crisis.
2. Brands as advisors: consumers continue to have faith in the brands and the companies that stand behind them.
3. Strike the right tone: it is important to realise that your existing creative might strike the wrong tone and push customers away.

Mzamo Masito: CMO of Google Africa

Masito said we only have one brand on the ‘Most admired brands in Africa’ list that is by and for Africans. We need to make sure that marketing works to the point where the top five of the brands on that list are from Africa.

Things that stand in the way of marketing to work

1. The financial business model of agencies is messed up – the margins are declining year on year and no one wants to talk about it. You cannot do great work if you are broke.
2. There are four Cs in the marketing industry that is being spent on more than anything else: Cocaine, Cannabis, Coffee and Cocktails.
3. Procurement cycle – it is about saving, saving, saving and that stands in the way of marketing to work. 

Masito also said the marketing and advertising industry is a pre-dominantly filled with white males with a sprinkle of white females and that is not helping with marketing that works.

Fahmeeda Cassim-Surtee: CEO – DStv Media Sales

The smart TV market is booming and top platforms like Netflix and Showmax are becoming the norm. PayTV broadcast platforms are now offering connected TV services, like Catch Up or transactional TV and demand services like Box Office. There are some consumers who do not want to pay for content. From these streaming sites to new advertising models, it is an industry that is constantly in a state of flux, where change is happening at a faster rate than at any other time in history.

For marketers, television has always been the best platform to build their brands, but in this new, connected world they are adding digital engagement to the biggest screen in the home. Now everyone is confused about uniformity in video metrics, for example, when a piece of video is viewed on a laptop versus when it is viewed on a mobile phone or when it is viewed on a television. How do you measure that? Globally there is no solution yet for an essential metric. So media agencies are trying to adopt a video stacking solution and adding screen measurements separately in order to get to what they call a total video audience.

Fernando Machado, Global CMO for Burger King

Creativity is a source of competitive advantage. As a CMO, you will most probably not survive for more than six months if you are doing good stuff but not driving results. Whatever you do, you need to drive extra results.

Creativity matters and it can be a source of competitive advantage based on the type of approach you take and the emotion you evoke in your customer that makes them lean towards considering or even buying your product. Note that everything that stands out will get criticised – rather have critics than no one noticing or caring about what you do.

Link the creativity with data in order to identify the opportunity of advertising based on potential consumer’s habits based on the brand’s carriers and triggers. That way creative can produce a stronger output.

Key learnings about creativity:

– Creativity has the power to bend reality.
– If it looks like an ad, sounds like an ad and smells like an ad, then it is probably not a good ad.
– No money, no problem: creativity helps you figure out how to advertise without breaking the budget.
– Stretch and learn – use data and tech to do this.
– First or nothing – strive to do things first. 

Amanda Cromhout: CEO at Truth and Emerce Commerce

Marketing work and loyalty works. 72% of South Africans use loyalty programmes. Loyalty does influence behaviour – the programmes can change where one shops, what they buy in the store, where they bank, where they buy fuel and so on. If you can get a loyalty programme right – it can really work.

To get it right you can use these points as a guide: 73% females (6.3 programmes on average) use loyalty programmes and 71% males (4.8 programmes on average) use them. Monetary related benefits remain king, providing customers with instant gratification and savings.

The distinct difference between men and women: women prefer: discount vouchers, double points, free gifts/samples, birthday offers and instant discounts. Men prefer: airtime and data, airport lounge access, ability to move up tiers, priority boarding and ability to share points.

Always inoculate your customers against the inevitable seduction of your competitor. ‘Retention is the new growth: to win in today’s world, every business has to transform themselves to become manically focused on the customer experience,’ – Shantung Narayen, Adobe CEO.

Loyalty points encourage moving from a purely transactional interaction to an emotional relationship with the customer. Loyalty cannot be bought or created, it is earned as a result of loving, understanding and engaging with your customers on a level far deeper than your greatest discount.

Suhana Gordhan: Executive Creative Director at FCB Joburg

Gordhan said that the marketers, CMOs and CFOs listening to her presentation are breaking her heart as they have forgotten how to be human and how to really feel. She feels like she is about to break up with them because:
– They want to tick boxes, instead of moving people’s minds and hearts.
– They do not want her opinion but neatly packaged toolkits and campaigns.
– They would rather listen to Nielsen, than her well-tuned instinct and gut.
– They want everything now, raw and soft boiled, instead of letting her cook-up a strong idea for them.
– Their procurement people want Egyptian cotton for the price of polyester.
– They want to speak to real South Africans, but their boardrooms are not inclusive enough. Marketers treat advertising as a branch of logistics.

Patrick Collister: author and speaker 

He touched on the new seven rules for making marketing work:

– Be Purposeful: do stuff, do not make gestures. Donate money, partner with people that stand for something and help take care of the health workers.
– Be Branded: brands spend less on branded advertising – everything is short and measurable.
– Be Data-minded: a new creative construct – gather insights that lead to an idea and can be innovative. You can use data to inform and amend your campaigns as they are live.
– Be Personal: Advertising is not a one-size-fits-all. 97% of ads do not have targeted creative for each audience segment (that is why people hate online ads). Personalisation is  using pragmatic advertising to talk to the right people at the right time and, crucially, in the right way.
Be Social: just be a human being. Apply human characteristics to objects. Listen to the consumer and respond. Allow customers to advertise on your social media in an effort to help alleviate costs during Covid-19.
Be Involving: packaging is the most untapped frontier, it is the medium you own and there are few marketers who are actually doing anything with it. Add things to your product and services that people can easily access through technology, like QR codes that reveal your brand information on the back of the product.
Be Innovative: look at what is happening out there and innovate with your product, it is expected of you. be a brand that understands your customer’s generation and learn to do cool things.

Mpume Ngobese: Managing Director Joe Public Connect

Brands can break through the clutter and reach to Generation-Z through ‘Transmedia storytelling’ – using a variety of touch-points to tell a bigger story that appeals to the multimedia, multiscreen fluidity of today’s youth. 

Catch snippets of all the speaker’s topics in the video below. For the latest industry content, visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel.


Five lucky Modern Marketing Instagram followers won virtual tickets to attend the event. One of the ticket winners, Nicholas Curle from Whaam Concepts, said, ‘I would like to thank this team for the opportunity to attend the Nedbank IMC. I truly appreciate it.’

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