Strategy is not about short-term goals and the advertising sector needs a powerful turnaround strategy.
One factor that influences any such strategic thinking is that the playing field has changed. We are no longer competing amongst ourselves within our local environs for business. We are competing on a global scale with our peers around the globe - very evident during 2012 at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity
Incidentally, the advertising sector in many emerging markets has caught onto this fact fast. A good example of this would be Brazil, which is breaking all sorts of new ground. Not only did Brazil (and other South American countries) win many awards at Cannes this year, they also employed a successful strategy to market themselves and leverage their presence on the international scene at the festival.
Walking along the main boulevard at Cannes, you would have seen Brazilian banners; entering the hallways at the Palais de Festivals, you would have seen events hosted by Brazil... In fact, everywhere you looked, there was a reminder of its vibrant, energetic advertising sector. Very impressive.
Why would the advertising sector in a country such as Brazil spend money on marketing themselves at Cannes? The answer is simple - because these days, there are so many major clients attending the festival and they could well be there to shop for best-of-breed services, irrespective of where in the world the agency might be.
Sadly, South Africa has absolutely no sector-wide campaign for Cannes.
SA needs a united front
If we want to access and capitalise on the global market, to be a source of creative work (and more than just a dumping ground for work done internationally), we have to make our presence felt globally by promoting our talent, creativity and any other advantages of doing business with SA as a united front at events such as the Cannes Festival of Creativity.
Advertising is at the cutting-edge of most industries; what better sector to represent our aspirations as a nation and as a profession than at a globally recognised platform such as Cannes?
My aspiration for the SA advertising sector at Cannes 2013 is for us to have a strategy to escalate our visibility and create a presence that spans at least three years. We should have a Cannes Forum run jointly by our industry bodies and stakeholders that incorporates a programme of activities for Cannes delegates - all funded by sponsorship similar to what Ster-Kinekor did in previous years.
I have no doubt that this will deliver enormous benefit and value for the SA market, and boost our chances of being placed on the radar of global clients, which is critical for the survival and growth of our local sector.