dvertising, as a barometer of cultural and political change, has been reflecting the South African revolution since the early nineties. Yet, as an industry it has remained surprisingly white, even to this day. So when a trio of bright young marketers opened the doors of their own, and South Africa's first, black advertising agency in 2000, there was little surprise in the antagonism they met. Not only did Happy Ntshingila, Peter Vundla and Dimape Serenyane face the obstacles that most start-up companies do, but they had to overcome the resistance of a prejudiced business sector as they were trying to convince marketing managers of the seemingly obvious fact that in order to speak the language of black consumers you have to be black.
The entry barriers were high but they made timely breakthroughs, and the now famous HerdBuoys forever changed the landscape of advertising in this country. They went on to land plum contracts and the business grew into what today is one of the largest in the country. They sold hope and aspiration, and the people bought that. Who could forget the Telkom “Touch Tomorrow” ads? They exuded joy and confidence, and SAA's unequalled new livery is proof of that.
The author pulls no punches, and as a consummate advertising man, he makes each muscular sentence shine with wit in telling these poignant, funny, wise and entertaining stories. The result is a book equally fit for business, motivational and pleasure reading, by one of the sharpest Buoys from the townships. As Graham Warsop, chairman of The Jupiter Drawing Room says, he “reminds us that with big dreams, big hearts and the right partners it's not just about making advertising, but also about making history”.
Happy Ntshingila, a Sowetan by birth whose street cred includes being wounded in 1976, today is Executive Director: Marketing and Communications of Absa.
Published by Umuzi, an imprint of Random House Struik (Pty) Ltd.
Released: May 2009
96 pp, Trade paperback
Recommended retail price: R195.00
To order Black Jerusalem at the special price of R146.25 (25% off the retail price), call Anthea or Andrew on 021 462 4360.