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One-eyed Jack's fairytale entertainment PR specialist dream comes true

One-eyed Jack's co-owner and founding member, Manuela de Deus tells the simple story of a girl and her cat into a full-service specialist entertainment agency, with sponsorship and marketing at its core...
Many are surprised that we're already into June. Not De Deus, who speaks candidly about trends she sees as the biggest still to come in 2015/2016, particularly in the entertainment PR/marketing branding space.

Key among these is collaboration - she explains that while this industry has always been pretty much 'each man for himself', with promoters keeping their contacts close and their sponsors closer, nowadays we're seeing promoters procure brand partners for themselves as well as their competitors, and joint opinion pieces are often pitched to the media as feature articles.

Then, while it's not necessarily a new trend, De Deus also highlights the enduring nature of the power of PR. The entertainment industry is more and more recognising the need for good PR and the value it can add to the event's credibility - and the value that exposure gives sponsors.

Lastly, she list the importance of brands as sponsors, though they are perhaps a little slower on the uptake. "A lot of brands sponsor incredible events, and do amazing activations that sometimes even win awards. But apart from the people who attend the event, no one else knows what they've done," says De Deus. That's why One-eyed Jack in particular is working with more brand sponsors to educate them on the role PR plays in promoting these brands' activity outside of their usual marketing campaign activity. That's because often sponsorship of an awesome event is the best way to engage with your consumer in a meaningful way.

But how did One-eyed Jack become such experts on the local entertainment PR industry? I pinned down De Deus, who was only too happy to share some insights...

Bizcommunity Let's start with the basics - What does the name One-eyed Jack come from?

Manuela de Deus
De Deus: It's quite quirky, really. When I started the company in 2011, I initially submitted names that expressed the nature of the business (All Access, Admit One etc.) to the CIPC for registration, but after three months of declines as all the names I'd been trying were all taken, I was stuck.

Whilst pondering my next move, stroking my cat (who happens to have one eye and is called Jack), the penny dropped. One-eyed Jack - why not? I immediately imagined the cool CI I could create and envisaged a logo of a cat with an eye patch and knew that was exactly the way I wanted to go. It's a name that people remember that's backed up by a simple story of a girl and her cat.

Bizcommunity That's for sure! Tell us more about One-eyed Jack, the agency...

De Deus: One-eyed Jack is a specialist entertainment agency. We're contracted by SA's top promoters to source brand partners for their events and to market them through inspired digital campaigns and classic PR. With fly-by-night promoters popping up everywhere, we know who to work with and who not to. The brands that sponsor our events and the media that publish our stories trust us; they know that we vet the teams bringing international artists to our shores so that they don't have to.

As to why we got started, having spent many years working the UK festival circuit, I knew a thing or two about sponsorship and, on returning to South Africa and working at a well-known ad agency, I realised that the brand managers here didn't know how to assess a sponsorship proposal and the SA promoters didn't know how best to pitch their properties. I was chatting to a very good friend of mine at Mushroom Productions who highlighted the niche and gave me the push I needed to go solo. Stating that I'd 'give it three months' and see where it went, I haven't looked back. Four years on and we're a thriving company with a talented, specialist team. I have a fantastic business partner who joined me a couple of years ago and together we've carved a solid place for One-eyed Jack as the guys to speak to for an entertainment marketing solution. So, although we started off as a sponsorship procurement agency matching brands with the best events, we've evolved into offering a full service agency, with sponsorship and marketing at its core.

Bizcommunity Such a great success story. What's the basic work flow like - describe a typical day, if such a thing exists.

De Deus: Ideally, our day would comprise getting double-page spreads in SA's top papers, having our events trending on Twitter, having our clients' fans engaging massively on social media and confirmation on a brand signing a multi-million rand sponsorship deal! But it's not a fairytale. This happens, regularly. But mostly, the sponsorship team's time is spent assessing opportunities and only taking on a handful of them, developing bespoke proposals, flying across the country to pitch them in person and then managing the partnership from start to finish.

The marketing team's day is spent developing cool PR'able concepts, managing tough situations, working with artists to try get exclusive interviews for SA's key publications and engaging with our clients' social media communities - all with two key objectives: sell tickets and build the event brand.

Bizcommunity Sounds good. Tell us more about the entertainment/concert/festival realm of PR and communications...

De Deus: It's a tough gig. Sometimes you're lucky in that the act brought out is well-known and is easy to work with, but sometimes you're not. A huge amount of effort and planning goes into marketing an annual event property, like Vodacom In the City or Rage Festival. Our campaigns kick off six to eight months in advance as there are so many elements to communicate, ranging from line-up announcements to greening initiatives, travel packages and sponsor incentives. Unfortunately, there's the odd crisis management element too, like 10,000 people being turned away at the gates due to poor weather conditions and health and safety risks, or international headliners cancelling/postponing at the last minute. That said; entertainment PR is a total buzz!

Running around backstage, organising photographers so that they can all get their best shots in the media pit and seeing tears of joy on competition winners' faces during their 'meet and greets' is exhilarating. That's why we got into this industry in the first place, for the love of great music and all the excitement that comes with it.

Bizcommunity Let's go deeper into the challenges and highlights of working in this industry...

De Deus: Highlights:

The people. Likeminded, creative souls driven by passion and the will to succeed.
Brand involvement. Our events are partnered by a variety of brands so we're involved in high-level strat planning sessions and exposed to upcoming trends and consumer insights.
The buzz of a published piece. Nothing beats the buzz of seeing a full-page feature that your team has worked hard to secure.
And, of course, all the music and backstage stuff mentioned in the point above.


Focus. From our perspective as a specialist agency, it's a challenge to stay small and focused. We try new disciplines from time to time and even branched out into working on family events, but it risked diluting our offering and over-extending our team.
Selling out a show. Event promotion is tricky. Sometimes our clients (the promoters) book artists that aren't well-known enough by the SA market. That, coupled with an often-saturated market and a wane on spending power, affects ticket sales, which puts huge pressure on the PR agency to get those column inches. Whilst PR has a place in event promotion, the promoter needs to spend a considerable amount on ATL advertising for the event too, a line item that they often don't set enough budget aside for.
Another challenge is setting a benchmark for sponsorship rights fees. With so many new promoters trying their hand at putting on live events, there's a lot of undercutting going on. Unfortunately, settling a title sponsorship for a lesser fee actually compromises the quality of the event, which ultimately taints the sponsor's experience, damaging the sponsorship landscape for the rest of us.

One-eyed Jack, shot at Shimmy Beach Club

Bizcommunity Lots to consider, clearly. What's the local entertainment/concert/festival promotion industry like? Does it compare internationally?

De Deus: Absolutely. South Africa has some exceptional event promoters, who have years of experience. You'll find our top guys travelling to Europe for conferences too, and there's always a mass SA contingent at Amsterdam's ADE and Germany's Reeperbahn Festival. It hasn't been an easy feat for our promoters to get to the level they're at now, as SA was previously dominated by a select few promoters who were able to sign big international names to tour SA. Over time, one of our clients, G&G Productions, has built a solid name for themselves on the back of Rage Festival, Sensation and Space Ibiza's SA tours and now books the hottest international talent for their youth focused electronic events. Another of our clients, Seed Experiences, initially leaned on its Rocking the Daisies credentials, but after having successfully toured breaking indie acts and iconic legends, they've built up a strong reputation as absolute specialists at what they do, and are known as guys with solid integrity.

Bizcommunity Lastly, what's next for your One-eyed Jack?

De Deus: We spent our first few years building up our client base and gaining brand and media trust, but all very much behind the scenes. With a team of six exceptionally competent people, we're now ready to grow and take on the world. Watch this space!

We certainly will. For more on One-eyed Jack, visit their Facebook page or follow their Twitter feed.

About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is former Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality, and of course, gourmet food and drinks! She can be reached on Twitter at @Leigh_Andrews.
Jose Cuervo
Ha ha ... "For more on One-Eyed Jack visit their website" so I clicked on the link and a holding page says "Coming Soon".
Posted on 2 Jun 2015 15:45

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