Mark Williams has been appointed to head up the new office as Managing Director of its Lagos-based operation. Mark has accumulated substantial experience and kudos in his years in the local marketing and advertising industry with hot shops like Rocketseed, Tinderbox, Internet Solutions (Dimension Data), VWV and 8 Seconds. “It's a wonderful opportunity to give Nigerian youth a greater voice,” says Mark Williams of his new appointment.
“What HDI is doing in the South African market is world-class, so we won't be going over there to reinvent the wheel - we'll just be adjusting the tyre pressure to suit the new terrain,” says Mark whose career has taken him to both East and West Africa. “I've always been deeply involved with the creative side of marketing and now running a youth marketing company I get to really stretch those creative wings and have a lot of fun doing it”. HDI Youth Marketeers' has several clients in the Nigerian market which will provide one of the launch-pads for its market entry there. “Our biggest challenge will be to help business understand the value and viability of youth as a market and as an audience,” says Mark who believes the Nigerian industry hasn't tapped into the potential youth specialist marketing yet.
The prospect of settling in one of Africa's fastest growing cities is not daunting to this Durban-born beach boy who is taking his surfboard along in search of good waves. “I've always enjoyed doing something different and blazing a trail - whether it's managing a rock band or climbing a rock face,” says Mark who spent his early years as a band manager before turning his talents to the marketing industry. The concept of youth as a specific segment is fairly new in Nigeria, so from that perspective, it's a frontier challenge, which we're rearing to meet,” says South African MD, Jason Levin.
Given Mark's balancing act as scuba-diver, surfer, motor-biker and parachutist with his role as a father, there's no doubt he has the chutzpah required to head up this initiative. “Young people think out of the box - they allow you to shape new ideas. And I have built up the kind of experience that helps mould ideas into something big,” quips Mark who played a pivotal role in Internet Solutions when it was still a start-up in the 1990s.
“Failure is not something I accept easily,” says Mark, “in my second year at art college I was told I wasn't cutting it, and was wasting their time - I went on to win three design awards and competitions that same year”. And that tenacity set Mark up for a number of international awards and several Loerie Awards, including the Grand Prix as his career progressed.
But for a marketing man, Mark is not all mouth and bravado. “What has made a big difference in my life is my relationships with people. That's paramount in business too, which is more about people than process, I think,” says Mark. “HDI has made a huge difference in the lives of South Africa's youth, now I want to make sure young people ‘feel that love' too!” he concludes.