The conference provides a forum for reviewing progress to date and planning for the year ahead, as well as a platform for discussing the network's regional clients and consolidating plans for managing their brands in Africa.
This year, considerable time was spent planning Shoprite's Africa rollout and the supermarket chain's Lyn Read traveled to KwaZulu-Natal to present its road map and participate in the strategic session.
FCB Worldwide, which is tremendously proud of it presence in Africa through the network, was represented by its International President Harry Reid and Worldwide executive creative director Jonathan Harries. Harries is also chairman of FCB Chicago.
FCB South Africa CEO Neil van der Weele, who has attended all seven conferences, rated this as one of the most successful to date.
"Attended by 38 delegates from 22 countries, this year's conference was very different from the first held in 1994 when there were only eight delegates," he said.
"The network has increased in stature and capability tremendously over the years. This was illustrated by the amazing insights and out-of-the-box thinking shared at this year's conference. Each delegate brought valuable information to the table, and our clients can be confident that their business is being professionally and effectively handled.
"The vitality and drive exhibited by the French-speaking countries, who made up just on 30% of delegates, really stood out. The capability of the agencies within these countries has grown enormously, and this will benefit both clients and our other partner agencies in the network," van der Weele said.
Asked to detail how the network is assisting clients in Africa, van der Weele mentioned Vodacom and Shoprite as just two who work closely with its agencies.
"Last year, the Africa network was involved in Vodacom's successful launch in the DRC. Here, the campaign included a television campaign as well as radio, point-of-sale and outdoor advertising. Current projects include relaunching the network in Lesotho and preparing for the Vodacom's move into Mozambique, scheduled for December this year.
"For Shoprite, the network has assisted in marketing its many stores in 16 countries including Madagascar and Mauritius. Shoprite has invested R500-million in Africa (outside of South Africa) and created some 8 000 jobs. The FCB Africa network is exceptionally pleased to be associated with such a strong brand and one so intent on building African pride.
"The network is currently working on six new store openings in Africa for 2004, and strategising Shoprite's expansion into India with the retail chain. Close collaboration between FCB Activ – Shoprite's brand custodian in South Africa – and the network partner agencies are vital to retain the core value of the brand.
"The network has also strategised and implemented a great number of projects for Distell. Our clients are pleased with the role the network plays," Van der Weele said.