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Neo Mashigo on creativity: A problem-solver at the front lines

At the onset of the pandemic, brands were faced with an unprecedented crisis - but many used the power of creativity to solve new problems and transform perceptions with effective campaigns, according to M&C Saatchi Group South Africa chief creative officer Neo Mashigo.
Neo Mashigo, CCO at M&C Saatchi Abel, South Africa
Neo Mashigo, CCO at M&C Saatchi Abel, South Africa

South Africa’s leading creative minds came together at the recent virtual Cannes Trends 2021 event to analyse and be inspired by some of the best creative campaigns from across the globe. The event was co-hosted by The Creative Circle, Ster-Kinekor, the official Cannes Lion representative in South Africa, Bizcommunity, and led by renowned South African creative industry consultant Ann Nurock.

Mashigo joined the event, but in his capacity as chairperson for the Creative Circle - a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting creativity as a business resource and maintaining high levels of creativity in the South African advertising industry.


Mashigo says the world of advertising is headed in an exciting direction. “I’ve always believed – and repeatedly say – that at its core, creativity solves problems, and it has been inspiring to see this being put to work during the biggest disruption in living memory.”

He says one of the key themes from the event is that work needs to be ‘human’.

<blockquote>“As the pandemic has physically separated us, it has restored a sense of humanity. While relevant work needs to have societal impact, it must also be human or rooted in humanity."</blockquote>

He argues creativity always has, and always will, be the driving force behind innovation. “South Africa is not an island. While we have our own context and nuances, just like our counterparts around the world, brands are increasingly looking towards creative agencies to find fresh and effective ways to communicate in an increasingly cluttered environment. By analysing and appreciating the best in the world, it brings our country’s creatives closer to the pulse of innovation.”


He says that the pandemic has shone a bright light on something that he has consistently driven at M&C Saatchi Group, South Africa. “Creative people and brands cannot tell their audience what authentic or compelling work is. This type of work is achieved with a commitment to creativity. That means listening, collaborating, and practising brutal simplicity of thought – and trusting your gut.”

“Far beyond giving us food for thought or even inspiring us, it is our duty in the industry to communicate to our clients and brands what is, and what isn’t, hitting the mark, on the global stage. To build world-class brands, we need to be immersed in what is happening beyond South Africa, and then bring our flavour to it,” says Mashigo.

“The pandemic has brought us closer together as a global community, and events like this are more important than ever, allowing us to learn from each other. In many ways we are on the front lines of the economy, driving demand and the growth of brands.”


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