Is Africa leading the creative revolution globally? | #Digibate – Abidjan, Ivory Coast


Abidjan Digibate Panel

“Africa is a land that is rich and fertile and the market place filled with both creative and strategic agencies who can certainly show and grow inroads into leading the creative revolution, but right now we are not. What Africa is currently doing is showing the rest of the world that where there is opportunity there will be creativity and an opportunity for business to grow. We need to see more innovation from the African market, as opposed to trying to adapt global offerings to fit our markets. Our work is great, yes we need to continue to invest in skills development and infrastructure, but we do amazing and innovative work in Africa”

Dawn Rowlands, CEO Aegis Media Sub-Saharan Africa

Whilst competition for brand spend in Africa is highly competitive there remains a great need for industry sharing and insights amongst industry players across Africa, hence the broadening of the Aegis Media Thought Leadership Digibate platform into Africa whereby sharing can be done not only by the media/marketing industry players, but also from client perspectives.

Post the 10th Aegis Media Thought Leadership Digibate streamed live from the 1st African Cristal Media Festival in Abidjan Côte d’Ivoire (,  the question posed before the Digibate seemed to rouse a few feathers as the answer from many African agencies was an “of course”, yet once you venture beyond the SA borders you soon realize that the continent  is a vast place with more than 50 different countries, different languages and certainly different ways of communicating via the individual countries media/marketing landscapes, but the common thread was a an insatiable quest for knowledge and insight into how the  various African regions are communicating to these markets so that a greater “African Consumer” insight could be gained. The Digibate panel represented 3 key perspectives into the African consumer market; agency, client and a media perspective.

The panel was hosted and moderated by Dawn Rowlands, CEO Aegis Media Sub-Saharan African (and interestingly the only senior woman at the entire festival representing a global brand in Africa, this in itself tells you volumes of the marketing landscape in Africa. Joining Dawn on the panel were Marc Seynave, MD, Drive Dentsu (agency perspective), MENA region, Emanuaele de Leonardis – International Head of Data & Advertising Mobile – France Telecom /Orange (client perspective) and Bony Dashaco – Group President & CEO Acmar Media Group Africa (media perspective)


The African Market | Listen to PART 1 of the DigibateCreativity on the Continent | Listen to Part 2 of the DigibateThe client perspective | Listen to part 3 of the DigibateAfrican Markets: North to South | Listen to part 4 of the DigibateMedia Data and Transformation | Listen to Part 5 of the DigibateCan Africa lead the creative revolution globally | Listen to part 6 of the Digibate

The key issues discussed and insights shared were as follows:

What are global clients looking for in Africa and what should agencies in Africa prepare themselves for?

  • Accurate  measurement on spend and return on investment
  • Transparency – clients want and need to know exactly where and how you are spending their money – not just a blanket monthly invoice. Currently the perception is that it’s filled with kick-backs, paybacks, under the table deals and we all know it happens but if we are all on a global scale of being open and transparent about how we conduct business then the playing field is much more open and ethical.
  • More investment into digital as its easier to track and translate ROI
  • Traditional media tracking in Africa remains skeptical and is very difficult to truly translate back into brand spend
  • Traditional media needs to have a lot more invested into accurate measurement and media strategists need to up their game to ensure that they are providing the best and most accurate results for their clients – Africa is a continent of more than 53 different countries and one media strategy does not fit across the entire continent.
  • Each African country needs its own media strategy that is done in the language and with the understanding of the culture of the country, based on key insights into that particular market gained by proper in-depth research and data analysis.

Is there creativity on the African continent?

  • From both a client and agency perspective the openness and working relationships between the two are staggering and the level of combined creativity is unique in this industry and in many instances the African continent is leading the creative revolution globally.
  • When we start seeing creative recruitment from Africa to the rest of the globe then you know that the answer to this is yes that Africa can lead the creative branding/marketing sector. Whilst in many cases the actual strategic planning needs outside input, the big global brands are bringing those specialists into the African market to work in tandem with the creative’s so that all round skills development and upliftment is being seeing.
  • We are also starting to see more young people going into the industry which can only boost the level of emerging creative and strategic talent.
  • Global brands and agencies are investing more into Africa than any other region in terms of skills development as they see the massive market growth and profit potential.

Why is the African continent such an attractive option for brands and what are the pitfalls in a new region?

  • It’s the massive size of the market that attracts brands
  • Trying to understand the various African regions and how they respond to brand communications is always tough and entering a new market requires effort and a massive amount of research into the various regions.
  • The growth of digital/mobile across Africa is mind blowing and brands want to be part of the action and gain a share in what is fast becoming one of the most profitable markets globally.
  • Make sure you truly understand the region you want to play in – it’s vital, otherwise you will lose a lot of money – so invest first in research and then make sure you have the right local partners who understand the region to work with. You can’t come from Europe/America and just expect to make it in Africa.

What future media partnerships will be seen in Africa?

  • Mobile operators and brands will have to work together to deliver messages/products/services to consumers, as there is still a massive “fixed line” issue in Africa that would appear to be remaining for a long time to come.
  • There will have to be much more collaboration between creative and media agencies in order to manage and roll-out client campaigns – it’s a simple term – INTERGRATION between the various media options and agencies will have to be fast tracked across Africa in order to keep up with the level of demand from global brands wanting to enter the African region.
  • Data analysts will become much more involved in brand campaigns – they will sit at the table with both the strategic and creative divisions of brands and agencies right from the outset and in many cases will lead the way the brand roll out into market ahead of the creative execution.
  • We will also see a lot more woman moving up the ranks in this industry as they gain global exposure and find their own voices in an African context and many “new breed”  integrated -agencies will be born and lead by woman across the continent.

About the panel:

  • Dawn Rowlands – CEO Aegis Media, Sub-Saharan Africa, Since being in the driving seat of Aegis Media she has been responsible for the group’s growth of over 200% from both revenue and staffing perspectives.  She is passionate about skills development in Africa with a key focus on woman in the industry.  She was named ADREVIEW’s 2012 Advertising Achiever of the year;   Business Woman of the Year 2012 –by the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa and    Business Woman of the Year 2012 – African Access National Business.
  • Marc Seynave – Managing Director – Drive Dentsu – Marc has been in the advertising industry for more than 20 years across the MENA region, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Algeria. He is currently based in Casablanca, heading up all marketing and communication projects for multinational clients in Morocco, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, Gabon, Niger, and Central African Republic. He is a globally recognized brand strategist in the FMCG and automotive market sectors.
  • Emanuaele de Leonardis – International Head of Mobile – France Telecom /Orange –Emanuaele is a mobile veteran with extensive experience in introducing innovative solutions and business models to the market. In December 2010, Emanuaele joined France Telecom/ Orange to strengthen the Mobile Advertising team and roll out compelling advertising offers across the company footprint. Prior to joining France Telecom/ Orange, Emanuele played a pivotal role in developing both advertising and multi-media strategies for some of the most successful Silicon Valley start-ups.
  • Bony Dashaco – Group President & CEO Acmar Media Group – Bony is based in Cameroon where he founded the Acmar Media Group  in 1997 offering their vast client base in both central and west Africa a full service advertising and media buying agency and has been working successfully as an associate of Aegis Media and all its network brands in Africa for the past few years.



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    eBizRadio is a live multi- platformed social media service providing an online forum to the business community for holding conversations on the key issues related to specific businesses as well as availing a space for cross-business collaboration in response to key issues affecting the world of business. The place to go if you want to know about business and lifestyle

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