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Ideas Will Travel

Last week, Mario Gamper paid Virtuosa a visit taking time as an ‘intern’ with the hope of learning more about specifically online  marketing and  search marketing  in the Agency  environment in South Africa. He met Ingrid Rubin, our GM, at Cannes two years ago at a Lowe Worldwide Digital Conference; and made Africa (specifically South Africa) one of his stops as he is interested in seeing how agencies are structured here, the maturity of the market and approach to strategy and emarketing.

For 5 days Mario had  an intense ‘internet marketing crash course’ to help him in writing his book before he continues with his worldwide tour to other countries and continents.

I had the opportunity to interview him while he was here and I must say that he is a very knowledgeable and interesting guy, with a fresh approach to looking at online advertising. I envy his vision and the end result of his worldwide summary of advertising and the future is certainly going to be interesting.

Mario Gamper

Mario’s Background

Mario Gamper has a TV and Print Ad agency background where he worked at Scholz & Friends for 10 years. After heading up the interactive department, he finally decided to travel and write a book on changes in the advertising sphere around the world and what to expect in the future.  He has teamed up with designer Raban Ruddigkeit, who is the editor of Freistil, a magazine on Illustration in Germany.

What the book will be about?

Mario’s project is called ‘Ideas Will Travel’, which is derived from the notion that people have to be moved by the ‘ideas’ in a campaign/ad. Mario views ads as ideas in motion and the book goes further to investigate:

  • how we create ideas that are being talked about,
  • why they are being talked about,
  • how they are being passed on.

Basically, in Mario’s view the challenge for ad agencies (on and offline) all over the world is to generate a successful ad that can generate a discussion, in his own words “that is the value… that is the lesson“.

Why is the book different?

Mario believes that we are already living in the ‘future’ that we predicted 5 to 10 years ago with micro-blogging and augmented reality, and the question the book answers is: “What can we expect in the next 5 years of the advertising industry?”.

He believes that ads/campaigns (on and offline) will aim to constantly re-educate and their success will be measured by their ability to create new ideas and be shared through various mediums.

It was great hosting him and I for one can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this insightful contribution to advertising. There are not too many authors and books in this market that have managed to provide a well researched and global insight into changes in marketing and advertising.

To keep track on Mario and his journey visit: Facebook and to ask him any questions, you can also visit his blog: www.ideaswilltravel.com .

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Green Marketing shouldn’t make you blue

Mention the words green marketing at a management meeting and you’re either labelled pony-tail wearing bunny hugging whale saver or you’re told to put it on next month’s agenda where serious consideration will be given to environmentally friendly packaging! It’s another Journal Debate and as Jeremy Maggs facilitates the debate some of the interesting points from the morning include:

Simon Gear – Green Business Consultant, SDB Consulting

  • Green Marketing is getting to a stage where it is becoming more mainstream but it’s not enough
  • Eskom doesn’t do any Green Marketing it’s more Crisis Management. But they are extremely transparent about their carbon footprint.
  • In terms of  Sappi the reality is that a tree farm is not a forest
  • You do things properly inside your company and then you tell that story

Jacques Brent – VP Marketing, Sales & Service, Ford and Mazda

  • Transparency is driven by competitive disclosure. Use the good to build your brand up but you rarely make active disclosure of the negative if nobody else is doing it in your industry. This is one of the problems.
  • Education is key, the more it gets spoken about the greater awareness and the quicker the change should come.

Maseda Ratshikuni – Head: Cause Marketing, Nedbank Affinities Marketing

  • The truth is South Africa is behind in terms of sustainability.
  • Surprisingly 53% of people are Green supporters in this country. But Green is like religious. You have to live it.
  • More responsibility to ensure people is educated and informed. Green is not something that happens out there, we need to start internally. And we need to make sure that our business accept the strategy of being green.

Bernhard Riegler – Marketing Director, Sappi Fine Paper

  • We have to be accountable as marketers.
  • There is no such thing as environmentally friendly. You have an impact on the environment. It’s how to minimize that effect.
  • Start getting people educated, start at home.

Latetia Venter – Marketing Manager: Demand Side Management, Eskom

  • Eskom has an energy efficient program that has managed to save over 2000 Megawatts.
  • Eskom launched an internal program where we started for energy efficiency to get our employees to be brand ambassadors.

Deon Robbertze – Creative Director: Ogilvy earth South Africa

  • Green marketing is about sustainability, and there are three pillars, social, financial and environment.
  • Consumer knows everything about your business, fixed what’s wrong don’t shout about what’s right.
  • You have to implement sustainability from the top down. You have got to get people in your company to believe that change is going to happen.
  • Sustainability is intuitive, it’s not rocket science.  We need to reach the age of transparency. It has to become part of the brands DNA.

From this mornings debate one thing is clear, it’s really important that we get to grips with issues like this. The conversation has provided food for thought and attendees walk away from another successful morning.

Join us for the next Journal debate. Book now


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Journal of Marketing Debate: Customer Relationship Management [CRM]

How should existing and potential costumers be spoken to, what are the optimum methods of communication, what role is technology playing in the dynamic? Jeremy Maggs as always keeps everybody on their toes, with some of the highlights from the session this morning including:


Fraser Lamb, Group Chief Executive Officer (Young & Rubicam Brands SA):
  • Strategy not Software, acquire to retain, retain to grow.
  • We can have all the fluff but we need to define what a relationship is. Customers want a relationship with a brand because it fits their use and needs.  I don’t believe in loyalty, there is no such thing. Open up a dialogue, every piece of information you are collecting are about how you can use it…
  • I believe digital is simply a channel and one of the marketing mix. You have to manage your brand across the various touch points with your clients. Measurement done effectively the board will sit up and take note. CRM is based in data that is measurable, that is manageable, and meaningful.

Andrew Ambrogioni, CEO (Action Ambro’s)


  • The system or technology we use doesn’t build the relationship it’s how you apply those date insights into your creative communication.
  • Social Media is great as a service level tool. It’s opening up a new channel for constant content upload. Instead of a push strategy it’s becoming a pull strategy.
  • You can create promotions online and ask customers to engage with you. Utilize it to create more focused campaign.
  • The way we communicate, the way we design, way we approach the customer needs to be looked at far more closely. Touch the heart and then reach into the pocket.

Etien van Loggerenberg, Territory Sales Manager- Africa (Maximizer Software)


  • It’s all about understanding the customers, what makes them tick. Profile them and communicate in a way that they understand. Track the effectiveness of how you are communicating.
  • In terms of Reputation – you have to priorities on how to respond to messages and have the tools and people to do that.
  • Measurability is key in order to drive your business forward.

Bridgette Ward, Sales Manager (AdvanceNet Group)

  • Getting adoption of the system is key, people don’t always understand the systems. But you have to integrate this throughout your business in order for this to be successful.
  • Key need to be looking at  a client in a 360 degree view.
  • Social Media can now start pushing information into your relevant information into your space. More on the networking side
  • We need to be building the system to take us to the next sale
  • CRM is a culture, you are creating transparency in the business

Michelle Perrow, Strategic Director (Lesoba Difference)

  • Have to get the basics right, which is:  good service, answer the phone on time, speak to customers correctly, speak to customers on the channel that they require, adding value at the same time.

  • There are very few organization that have the web or call centre interaction linked into the CRM. Various reasons for this, lack of support, internal politics etc.

  • Direct Marketing Association is the champion in challenging the legislative regulations. The opt- in, opt- out discussion have been reversed so that we are now only talking about opt out.

  • We need to self regulate. 17 pieces of legislations that cover CRM at the moment and you need to be aware of this and implement this.





Once again another interesting morning with diverse opinions on this topic.

For more on this event make sure you get a copy of the next edition of The Journal. Also don’t miss out on the next Journal of Marketing Debate talking about Green Marketing.


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CRM – An overused acronym or a Marketer’s Secret Weapon

On the 6 May 2010, The Journal of Marketing will host another one of their illustrious Breakfast Debates titled “Customer Relationship Management [CRM] – An overused acronym or a Marketer’s Secret Weapon?”

Mention the three letters CRM and marketers generally fall asleep or have a spam attack. But unless you’re engaging one-on-one with your loyal customer base and looking to add to it, you might as well quit and go farming. CRM is a marketer’s most important weapon, but can also be the greatest curse.

The debate will discuss how should existing and potential customers be spoken to; what are the optimum methods of communication; what role is technology playing in the dynamic, and how do you execute and quantify the results of a cost-effective CRM campaign. And, once you’ve done all that stuff, the debate will discuss how it all fit in with bigger issues like sales, distribution and overall brand development.

Hosted by Jeremy Maggs, the debating panel will include:

Fraser Lamb – Group CEO, Y & R Brands SA
Michelle Perrow – Strategic Director, Lesoba Difference
Andrew Ambrogioni – CEO, Action Ambro’s
Prakash Patel – Head of Digital, Draftfcb Johannesburg
Etien van Loggerenberg – Territory Sales Manager – Africa, Maximizer Software Ltd
Bridgette Ward – Sales Manager, AdvanceNet Group

To book: email Marcia Minnaar at marcia@netactive.co.za 

Date: Thursday, 6 May, 2010
Time: 07h00 for 07h30 – 09h00
Venue: L’Incontro Ballroom, The Michelangelo Hotel,
Nelson Mandela Square, West Street, Sandown
Cost: R395 (subscribers to The Journal); R495 for non-subscribers (prices ex. VAT) includes breakfast and parking


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Secrets of Effective Sponsorship

The big question today at the Journal’s breakfast debate is whether Sponsorships are consider to be money down a deep hole or the best brand builder ever? On the panel we have:

  • Clive Grinaker - Group Executive: New Business, SAIL Group Ltd
  • Gavin Cowley – Marketing Director, Addidas SA
  • Billy Lascaris – Director, Matchworld (Pty) Ltd a division of Primedia Sport
  • Serame Taukobong – Chief Marketing Officer, MTN SA
  • Stanley Anderson – Marketing Director, Huyndai Automotive South Africa

In marketing terms sponsorship is probably the biggest word flying around right now as we gear up for … well you know what. Some insights on this topic from the panelists:

Stanley Anderson: For us we believe that you are seen as a best quality brand if you are associated with the World Cup and you must be doing something right. Perceived quality is doing a great job for us in this regard.
We have been lucky as the World Cup has given us huge visibility also with an audience that we don’t always get into contact with. Our website hits have grown extensively in the last couple of months. The website gives the customer an opportunity to interact with our brand at its own leisure.

Billy Lascaris:

  • Sponsorship is an emotional platform.  It helps you build that trust.  Essential to integrate consumers into a campaign.
  • All brands can use sponsorships regardless of the industry you just have to be clever on how you approach it and leverage it.
  • In terms of CSI sponsorships be sure that if you do it you do it properly  otherwise it will come across as insincere and be more harmful.
  • Naming rights are important as this forms your platform to develop on but it depends on who your target audience is.  For me naming right are more about visibility and association.

Gavin Cowley: Addidas have been around for a long time but for us it’s about reinventing for us. We are different than the rest of the brands as we are on the field of play. Have a lot of commercial variables to help us measure our return on investment. The benefit is not just for during the event but it’s about positioning your brand during the event for you to successfully take it forward.
Need to approach things in a holistic way, signing is easy but servicing is not. Use all the elements of the marketing mix and part of that is social responsibility to ensure you leverage it.
Staff involvement is key and we make them part of this event with regular information on the event.

Serame Taukobong: We do have a post World Cup strategy. This event has allowed doors globally to open up for MTN. The value is that now we have instant recognition globally for our brand.

Social networking is part of our consumer lives. Beauty of mobile and social networking gives you a one to one ratio.

Clive Grinaker: Sponsorship is about strategy and the objectives you have for the brand. It’s got to align with your target audience. Sponsorship does give you a much better return on spend than electronic media.  It’s a fine ratio between what you want to get out of it over what you put in. Your staff is your brand ambassadors and it’s key to get their buy in.

For more on this event make sure you get a copy of the next edition of The Journal.

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Google Officially Announces that Site Speed Counts as a Ranking Factor

It has been rumoured by many and mentioned by Google since late last year that the speed of a website is a very important factor. It should come as no surprise then, that Google made the official announcement that they are including a new signal into their search ranking algorithms: site speed.

Simply put, site speed reflects how quickly a website responds to a web request. The speed of a website (time that it takes to load) is very important, to all Internet users and specifically, site owners.

Google says that their users place a lot of value in speed and after doing some internal studies they have found that if they slow users down [on Google.com] thay have seen less engagement. They have come to the conclusion that users love fast sites and that a faster web is a good thing for everyone.

Faster sites create happy users, improves user experience and reduces operating costs. If a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there.

This is enough motivation for Google and why site speed is taken into account in search rankings.

How does Google measures page speed?
There are two primary ways Google will measure page speed:

  1. How a page responds to Googlebot
  2. Load time as measured by the Google Toolbar

Tools for you to test your site’s speed
If you are a site owner or webmaster, here are some free tools that you can use to evaluate the speed of your site:

  • Page Speed, an open source Firefox/Firebug add-on that evaluates the performance of web pages and gives suggestions for improvement.
  • YSlow, a free tool from Yahoo! that suggests ways to improve website speed.
  • WebPagetest shows a waterfall view of your pages’ load performance plus an optimization checklist.
  • In Webmaster Tools, Labs > Site Performance shows the speed of your website as experienced by users around the world as in the chart below. We’ve also blogged about site performance.
  • Many other tools on code.google.com/speed.

According to Google, site speed is a new signal and it does not carry as much weight as the relevance of a page. They are saying that currently there are fewer than 1% of search queries affected by the site speed signal and that the signal for site speed only applies for visitors searching in English on Google.com.

Your site may, or may not, be affected, but it is widely suggested that you start looking at your site’s speed to improve your ranking in search engines and improve everyone’s experience on the Internet.

Using site speed in web search ranking
It’s Official: Google Now Counts Site Speed As A Ranking Factor

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The Annual Habari Media Symposium 2010

Habari Media has hosted a symposium in the picturesque setting of Spier Wine Estate in the Western Cape.

The first day of the kicked off to an interesting start with Adrian Hewlett, Managing Director of Habari Media welcoming the delegates to the symposium with a brief summary of the current online landscape.

Gary Hatfield – Chief Executive Officer of Kalahari.net followed suit with an informative presentation on the online trends of Online Trends and shared learnings from comparative analyses on retailer performance in the online space.

Isla Macleod: Digital Business Development Manager for BBC Worldwide, expanded on the growth of brands within period of 2010. She focused on three key areas to note such as the digital, social and interactive playing fields within media. She highlighted the importance of identifying new opportunities within the digital arena for 2010 from and integrative media approach and strengthening the relationship between the online space and mobilizing user engagement mobile platform.

The afternoon sessions involved intimate 101 breakaway sessions with Jake Bester (Big Wednesday), Richard Mullins (Acceleration), Garth Rhoda (Habari) and Andre Brits (Digivox).

The afternoon also involved an interesting panel discussion . the panel comprised of Bronwen Auret (Digital Head of BDFM), Tim Bishop (CEO of Prezence Digitial), Trevor Johnson (Head of Strategy, and Planning – Facebook (EMEA)), Nic van den Bergh (Head of Digital Media Services of Aegis Media). Topics for discussion such as measuring the ROI on digital campaigns and more granular forms of measuring consumer engagement on site properties within the social media space were posed to the panel.

The day was rounded off by the inclusion of featured guests such as Danny K who introduced the SHOUT campaign to the symposium delegates and appealing the media owners and publishers to get involved in creating awareness of this initiative against crime. The afternoon session was then rounded off by Derick Van Dam (E-TV Weather) who presented the topic of Global Climate Change and Weather Change and the impact thereof globally and locally.

Watch this space for updates on the happenings of day two of the symposium!

Blog post provided by Luyanda Mufango (luyanda@virtuosa.co.za)

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Journal Breakfast, Radio still a relevant medium?

It’s the first Journal of Marketing breakfast and Virtuosa once again are here giving live updates through Tweeting and Blogging to bring you all the news firsthand. Moderated by Jeremy Maggs this morning we are talking about Radio and why this medium is still relevant. The panel consists of Lance Rothschild (Media Consultant & Radio Commentator, Opportun(at)e), Norman Gibson – (GM, Radio Advertising Bureau) Omar Essack (Executive Director: Broadcasting, Kagiso Media) Andrew Smythe (GM Radio Sales & Alternative Revenue, SABC, Terry Volkwyn (CEO, Primedia Broadcasting).

Some of the highlights during the morning:
  • Omar Essack – I don’t think radio was better in the old days. It’s just different today, there is less competition but things changed TV has come into play, it’s forced Radio to evolved. Radio has to constantly re-invent itself.
  • Terry Volkwyn – I am very passionate about radio because of the immediacy, creativity and pace of it all. You are able to communicated one to one which means it’s a much richer experience.
  • Lance Rothchild – One thing about radio you can create your own personal pictures for the content.
  • Andrew Smythe– Truth is quality has wobbled in radio, radio industry is due for a shakeup late this year with the granting of three new fully commercial licenses in CPT, KZN and Pretoria. This will bring fresh blood out there, new marketing managers and new ideas.
  • Terry Volkwyn – Radio now has all this interactivity with the emergence of digital – whole new way of going about radio. Radio is integrating with digital which also gives it a new life.
  • Norman Gibson – Advertisers have a great responsibility to make sure the client understand the intrinsic of radio
  • Terry Volkwyn – Clients are demanding more from Advertising Agencies, become far more one on one.
  • Omar Essack -We want to get better at managing communities that gather around our radio stations and websites
  • Norman Gibson – Stations are very mindful of the digital explosion. But the numbers aren’t there for us.
  • Terry Volkwyn – Website, mobi site is part of the station not just an add on. For us it’s an integration and we don’t sell different space on the website it’s part of the package.

Interesting for me is the panels diverse opinion around what role digital should be playing in radio stations. Some seem to be of the opinion that internet access in South Africa is not high enough to warrant really investing into it. I find these opinions surprising. Others on the panel recognise that digital is exploding and see this as an unique opportunity to offer an integrated approach to their listeners. What’s clear is that there is an uncertainty on how best to integrate digital with their offering and how to  manage the communities that are developing around the station and especially the websites.

If you want to read more about what was discussed during this morning session be sure to get your hands on an issue of the next Journal of Marketing.


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The Power of Radio – Why the Medium Still Count?


So where are you spending your hard fought for advertising budget and are you absolutely sure your medium of choice is working? A vexing question for any brand or marketing manager and one for which they are owed an honest and informed answer. If radio is on your 2010 media plan, you need to attend the first Journal panel breakfast of the year at which the power of radio advertising will be unpacked, dissected and interrogated by an expert panel under the cracking whip of moderator Jeremy Maggs.

At the end of 45 minutes of (commercial free) talk, you’ll have a better understanding of the country’s changing radio landscape; how to plan and execute a radio media plan, and most critically, how to quantify the results of your campaign. The panel will also apply its collective mind to the future of the medium both from a programming and sales perspective.

The Panel:

Virtuosa will be at the event doing live Tweeting and blogging so get all the details here if you can’t be there on the day.


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The Design Indaba 2010

So my first Design Indaba has sadly come to an end, I know now that this will definitely not be my last. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I finally made it down to Cape Town for the conference but after hearing great reviews of previous years I was eager to attend.

For me the diversity of speakers were really good, encompassing most creative sectors – advertising, graphic design, film, fashion design, industrial design, architecture, performing arts etc. Being a Digital designer I hope in years to come we will get to hear from some international thought leaders in the online environment, but certainly this exposure to different creative thinkers opened my eyes to other design ideas and approaches. It was good to hear from designers that have faced similar problems to what we have but have found different solutions.

Some of the highlights:

  1. Michael Beirut with his inspiring and insightful talk about past experiences and lessons he learnt.
  2. The inspirational team of designers at Troika with some fascinating case studies of design challenges they have faced and overcome. I really enjoyed their unique approach to design and how they constantly look for alternative ways of doing things. Like their world clock situated at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 -”All the time in the World” uses a very different approach to the conventional world clock that normally displays only well known capital cities, this clock allows people to view times at more interesting destinations like “The world’s longest river”, “The world’s highest mountain” etc. Or their very innovative digital cloud sculpture that they conceptualised built and implemented.
  3. Stefan G Bucher – Graphic designer, writer and illustrator. 
    A rather eccentric and slightly wacky designer that came across as hugely passionate for his work. For 100 days Stefan filmed himself drawing a new monster every night based on random ink blots, and quickly created a large online following that eagerly await his next Daily Monster.
  4. Alejandro Aravena
    One of the most thought provoking speakers at the Indaba spoke about his “do-tank” (as opposed to “think-tank”) and their involvement in a groundbreaking social housing project in Chile called Elemental that has revolutionized the approach to low income housing.
  5. Li Edelkoort, a world famous trend researcher spoke about up and coming global trends and finished with an interesting take on the “Bordello” of the future.
  6. Bruce Nussbaum – Gave great insight into how he believes design is changing the world economy. He also spoke of “the biggest technical change to the internet since it was created four decades ago” referring to the decision by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to allow domain names to be written in non-Latin languages which will allow people to type internet addresses in their local languages.
A little more on the fun side was the great team of Thierry Cassuto and Zapiro who spoke to the audience about ZA News a controversial series that is gathering a huge following online. This talk also featured a special live guest appearance by Madiba and Bishop Tutu (ZA News puppets) whose hilarious interaction with the audience left everyone in stitches.

So all in all a very worthwhile experience. Well done Design Indaba, I look forward to next year…

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