TRANSFORMATION IN THE AD INDUSTRY, 25 YEARS ON…

Alert to the massive possibilities ushered in by a new democracy and spurred on by a passion for marketing, Mr. Mxolisi Evan Tyawa co-founded O’Brian in 1997.  The O’Brian story, is a story of enterprise in a time of political and economic transformation. As the O’Brian Group celebrates 22 years in the marketing and advertising industry, we need to pause and reflect on the progress and achievements of the country’s economic transformation generally and the advertising industry specifically. At closer scrutiny, it is impressive to note that O’Brian has made a significant contribution to job creation and advancing the broader economic transformation agenda in the advertising industry. 

Over the 22 years O’Brian;

  • Has provided employment to over 56 people, 
  • Incubated 8 businesses  
  • A significant handful of former employees have opened their own businesses,
  • And 20 young people have been trained and given internship opportunities, setting them up for employability. 

Whilst O’Brian has shown resilience over the years, being still be referred to as a small or emerging advertising agency 22 years later is not only laughable, but proof positive of the failure of true and significant transformation in the advertising industry.  

The negative impact of the seemingly unending economic downturn and political uncertainly not with-standing, business growth has in the last 10 years also been arrested by a marked lack of significant opportunities in both the public and private/corporate sectors. 

The backdrop of this has been a continued and sustained concentration of ownership and awarding of the largest and most profitable advertising accounts to a handful of white local and internationally aligned agencies. Added to this is a deepening dearth of opportunities and the outright exclusion of  black advertising agencies from corporate and or private sector invitation pitch lists.   This seems to be increasingly the case even where Government and State-Owned Enterprises are concerned: The much publicized 2016/17 Telkom pitch is but a recent case in point. 

 In our humble opinion, Radical Economic Transformation (as economic transformation has come to be called) should be about the prioritization of access to opportunities by competent, deserving, successfully managed and operated black advertising agencies and enterprises. 

For example the awarding of the multimillion rand audit business to the firm formerly known as SizweNtsalubaGobodo by TransNet propelled that firm into the top five in the country. 

The same cannot be said about the advertising industry, as 25 yearsafter our democratic dispensation the advertising agency top ten listis still all white and multinational