Khumalo is a CA by profession and the CIO of MSG Afrika. He is also a former member of the Takeover Regulations Panel of South Africa. He has served as a non-executive director of South African Airways, president of Abasa and treasurer of the Black Business Council.
Songo says HOB is glad to have Khumalo help lead and share the journey as they seek to build a diversified, credible and solutions-driven communications group.
“My experience in the industry saw us build a credible agency group that attracted the interest of the largest advertising group in the world namely WPP which acquired half of our agencies in 2009. That also led to the creation of a new agency that I helped lead into key markets in the rest of Africa, which was rather exciting,” says Khumalo.
“When Karabo and Musa asked me to share some of that experience with them in their new acquisition, I was initially uncertain due to the changes I was observing in the global and local agency landscape. After a rigorous conversation with both of them and when I met Andrew, Rob, Vanessa and the rest of the Brave team, it felt right to be a part of this journey – one that promises to truly change the game!
“While I believe the fundamentals of great communication haven’t changed, it is impossible to ignore the constant shifts in consumer habits, profiles and tastes. The needs of clients have also evolved and the combination of these factors means the marketing context has changed. The reality, however, is that within this context very little has altered in the business model.
“Overall, these changes are driving clients to demand much more of their advertising agencies – demands that are often unmet mainly due to the legacy of the agency business model. For some reason, we have forgotten the real reason clients come to us. We’ve forgotten that we are in fact, a creative industry. Through this business, our single-minded goal is to build a creative business, powered by service models and enabled by technology.”
How do you feel about being appointed the non-executive chairman of the House of Brave?
I have always been passionate about marketing and communications and this is a unique industry where one gets to work with bright young people who bring with them bright young ideas. This is also a chance for me to support an entrepreneurial team that is very clear about their opportunity and how to make best of it. Additionally, this is an industry that has been rather slow to transform in many ways. All you have to do is look at the key players, their management teams and even some of the work we still produce. So, it’s a bit of a full circle for me I guess, to have an opportunity to work with young entrepreneurs and also contribute meaningfully to the bigger work of economic transformation in our country.
What does the role entail?
The role is to provide strategic leadership by supporting the CEO and the MD as well as the rest of the leadership team to drive growth and delivery to our clients. I will largely be responsible for promoting and preserving good governance at board level as well as growing our capacity as a leadership team and the agency as a whole. We also have big plans to grow our client list and create meaningful work opportunities for the best people in the industry, especially black creative talent. I hope to be a regular a sounding board to the group leadership team and play my part in growing the business too.
What excites you most about this agency and where it’s going?
Comment on the current state of advertising, and what the future of advertising looks like to you.I think the business model needs a relook. In fact, I know that most agencies are grappling with the issue right now, and perhaps it will take a few pioneers getting arrows in their backs before the industry follows suit.Clients are certainly demanding more. Mobile connectivity has fundamentally altered consumption habits and that’s going to play an increasingly important role when it comes to how people engage with brands. Our country is going through a major transition, the biggest in a decade or so. That is going to impact macroeconomic factors as a whole and this will trickle down to our industry, depending on what CEOs and CFOs feel in terms of business confidence for 2018 and beyond. So, advertising has to learn to grapple with all these factors going forward and I think those that can connect all these dots have a better shot.Do you think the agency model is viable for the long-term?
The agency model is evolving and agencies need to change in tandem with client conditions. It’s a function of output vs pricing where both parties need to go back to the drawing board. I think there are many possibilities of structuring complex relationship and maximising output.
I’m reading The Rise of Africa’s Middle Class by Henning Melber, and Iman Rappetti’s Becoming Iman. I don’t watch much television but the series, Billions has definitely captured me!What’s at the top of your to-do list?
What are you currently reading/watching/listening to for work?
I’m reading The Rise of Africa’s Middle Class by Henning Melber, and Iman Rappetti’s Becoming Iman. I don’t watch much television but the series, Billions has definitely captured me!
As a CA, why did you decide to get into media and communications?
I’ve always been fascinated by the media and how we all consume stuff. I didn’t plan to get into it but meeting Given Mkhari and Simphiwe Mdlalose at a football match hosted by my former employer, Investec made it possible. That started an 11-year-old journey into advertising agencies, PR agencies, media agencies and now radio stations and television production. I guess the other benefit of a CA(SA) qualification is that you can literally be anything you want to be in business.
Tell us something about yourself not generally known.
My favourite movie is Grease!