By Grey Africa | May, 2020.
Africa day is a good time to reflect on how far we have come as a people and how far there is to go as we play catch up to the rest of the world which itself provides tremendous opportunities on our continent. At Grey Africa, a part of the WPP Group, we believe that opportunity dances with those already on the floor. We see it as a privilege to set up and closely work with partner agencies throughout the sub-continent, creating opportunities for its people, as well as getting the opportunity to pioneer well-thought out and intelligent campaigns on a continent that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves in the advertising world.
In Africa, the rise of the digital natives has proven to be a game changer in more ways than expected. Rather than play catch-up, as is often expected of us, we are leap-frogging – creating new vistas and new frontiers. A young, vibrant, self-propelled African youth, front-runners tired of waiting for those non-existent government handouts now lead the way. This means that the African hustle is born, and it is here to stay.
The development of the Grey Africa Network in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has been championed by Dele Odugbemi who set up the network in a way that enables it oversee multi-market outputs that are vital to the maintenance of Grey’s quality and value standards. Odugbemi has visited and worked across the 32 SSA partner markets as Grey Africa’s executive regional network coordinator and is well suited to this role having lived and worked throughout the region in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana, successfully managing brands like Coca-Cola, Multichoice, MTN, SA Tourism and Diageo.
A unique African solution
Grey is ambitious about its Africa drive with a goal to be the best agency network on the continent by scale, geography, talent and client and award recognition by 2020.
Jackson adds, “Unlike most advertising agencies, we present working solutions to clients, not a laundry list of services. We don’t just offer them a template extracted from a far-flung unconnected market.”
“Instead, we look at relevant customers’ needs along with local market insights, and customise our offering to the specific needs they have in each market, understanding that in Africa one size certainly doesn’t fit all,” Jackson says.
Each regional market grouping is led by one of four regional hubs in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos and Dubai, all working closely with the Grey Africa Network leadership, aiming to ensure ongoing connectivity between individual disciplines and agency offices to produce Grey’s ‘Famously Effective’ brand of work.
Grey now has coverage in 39 markets between Africa and the Middle East, with majority equity ownership in the top nine markets.
A ‘networked agency’, not an agency network
“The definition of a ‘networked agency’ has evolved, and Grey Africa, operating as a network of independent agencies, has progressed by being strongly connected through a shared open culture with a belief that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” says Odugbemi.
An agency in constant beta
Grey Africa, is a quintessential 21st-century agency network. “Like today’s high-tech companies, agencies need to be open to a process of continual mutation and transformation. We must be much more adaptive and not be paralysed by the methods of the past,” says Jackson.
Grey is fostering partnerships with other WPP companies, expanding relationships with agency partners such as GroupM Media and Kantar Research and Consulting.
Grey Africa has also established joint ventures with several specialists such as Coppertable and TrendER in an aim to drive its digital evolution and effectiveness further.
“We have a formidable digital orientation today, and we’re not waiting for anyone else to give us the answers and that’s proved by positively impacting on the creative work for key clients like Nokia, Uber, AkzoNobel, Procter & Gamble, Coronation, Volvo and GSK in the region,” adds Jackson.
The agency says it is looking forward to many more years of delivering for clients in Africa by means of an unrelenting strategic climb to being recognised as the best on the continent.
On Africa day, we salute its good people who have had to endure a difficult period over the past few months but who continue to show the resilience that other parts of the world have had to notice. Today we celebrate the resilience of the Africa spirit!