Forty FCB Africa representatives from 20 countries gathered in Botswana to discuss the state of advertising on the African continent and fine-tune the network's strategy for securing new business. Also on the agenda were strategies to enhance the already high standard of communication solutions offered by the network's member agencies and ways in which proprietary tools and new methodologies could be used to add value to clients, regardless of the countries they are trading in.
This is the sixth pan African conference staged by FCB, the largest advertising network in Africa. Angola and DRC are the latest additions to the network, bringing the number of agencies in the network up to 33. Major clients using the FCB Africa network include Pan African TV network, TVAfrica, USAid funded malaria initiative NetMark, Liquor marketer Distell, Siemens SC Johnson and Toyota SA.
This year's conference was held in Kasane, Botswana from 27th – 29th September. It was attended by managing directors of FCB's African advertising agencies as well as several of their American and European counterparts. Countries represented included Kenya, Reunion, Mauritius, DRC, South Africa, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Uganda, USA, UK, Nigeria, Angola, Namibia, Madagascar, Cote d'Ivoire, Mozambique and Zambia.
Leading the proceedings was FCB Worldwide CEO New York-based, Brendan Ryan, who confirmed that the Africa region was the highest ranked region in the group's global network. With a network of 33 offices across the continent, FCB ranks number one in Africa. It is the only advertising group that brings its offices together every year to thrash out the issues affecting this region, he said.
Ryan added there is much that his African colleagues can teach Europe and the US about advertising. "Africa is a dynamic and sometimes very challenging environment to operate in, yet the agencies in our group continue to turn out great advertising that sells today and build brands over time. The fact that they do this, proves that good advertising is not limited by geography – it is a truly global business and it is as successful here in Africa as it is in more developed markets," he said.
Harry Reid, the UK-based President of FCB International, stressed the importance of advertising on a continent racked by major problems such as Aids, Malaria, conflict and famine. He said advertising is the fuel that powers an economy and in Africa, it is no different. The objective of any advertising campaign is to stimulate demand in any environment, which in turn can improve and drive an economy – ultimately impacting on the man on the street. Advertising is as critical in Africa as it is anywhere in the world, Reid said.
Commenting on the importance of regular contact between the network's agencies, CEO of FCB South Africa, Neil van der Weele, said it has a pivotal role to play in upping the standards of advertising on the continent.
"One of the objectives of the conference is to explore ways to uplift the advertising skills in the countries in which FCB operates. We explore training solutions and look for ways FCB South Africa can share skills and build capacity for the next generation of African advertising practitioners," he said.
One of the delegates, Paul Owora, managing director of FCB's Kenyan agency, TAC, confirmed that initiatives discussed at the conference play a strategic role in developing his agency.
"The opportunity we have here to learn from more developed markets like South Africa and the US is invaluable to my business. But learning from our neighbours and seeing the work and issues they have in their markets is equally important – we have more similarities than we have differences on this continent and networking is critical," he said.
About FCB Africa
The FCB Africa network was started in 1994 and is the Number 1 network in Africa, in terms of revenue.