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[2010 trends] Hard times leading to healthy transformation

Despite the challenges of a post-recession environment, the industry is uniquely positioned to make 2010 a year of vigorous transformation.
Having survived a tumultuous 2009, the advertising and communications industry has entered the New Year with new energy, passion and commitment to raise the profile of the profession in boardrooms across the country. The industry is more determined than ever to change perceptions about the profession and regain its space on the corporate ladder.

Budget attrition

As clients negotiate the post-recession hangover, budget attrition is to be expected and, for that which is spent - accountability and a return on investment is paramount. Campaigns can no longer be executed without sound measurement and tracking in place.

While these necessities may pose a formidable challenge to some agencies, it certainly will encourage a higher quality of service delivery and a renewed attention to the business of communications. In addition, the sharpened focus on profitability will promote and drive a more balanced and mutually beneficial relationship between agencies and their clients.

Over the years, there has been a notable lack of confidence in the industry's ability to deliver a tangible, measurable return on investment. However, as client-agency relationships are becoming more transparent, discussions over budget are becoming less one-sided, making it easier for both parties to reach a workable agreement.

More discerning

The industry is also becoming notably more discerning about taking on new business, with agencies devoting extensive time on background research before pitching for new accounts, as remuneration models are changing from the old retainer system to that of commission and project-based remuneration.

Instead of pitching on anything and everything, agencies are starting to ask the tough questions upfront because the realisation has hit home that dropping everything - including existing clients - to pitch on that so-called monster account, might just not make financial sense in the long term.

This renewed attention to quality over quantity is also being extended to human capital - fresh, new, young talent is widely sought. A culture of mentorship is being adopted within the industry, and leadership succession planning, as well as transformation, is a priority - this, to in order to attract talent and develop a new generation of leaders within the profession. Institutions such as the AAA School of Advertising are supported and regularly engaged with by industry.

New media platforms

The industry is embracing new media platforms such as social media and the upcoming digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform that will change the TV landscape quite dramatically. The use of new and alternative media platforms is more frequent because of the demand to integrate communications, break through clutter and engage the consumer using relevant media, as opposed to mass media.

Finally, the debate about alcohol advertising continues and will continue until well after the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup. Workgroups and co-regulation are being proposed to Government in an effort to a total ban on the advertising of alcohol products and the consequent adverse economic repercussions.

About Odette van der Haar

Odette van der Haar joined Publicis as the MD from 1 September 2019, before which, she was the CEO of JWT Jhb. She was also CEO of the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA) (, the industry body of the SA advertising and communications sector, and previously headed up Sentech's Advertising, Events and Sponsorships portfolio...

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