Last Thursday, OIL JHB held our second Mystery Speaker event, where we were lucky enough to bag ourselves the talented and infamous now editor of True Love, Sbu Mpungose. This would be the second time that Sbu graciously offered her time and invaluable opinions to OIL, and believe you me, we recognize just how fortunate we are!
The aim of the session was really to learn just what it takes to be successful in today’s workplace, and what it takes for an individual to climb the ladder at all – let alone at the pace that Sbu did. By the age of 23, she found herself the head editor of a magazine, and just one year later she went on to win editor of the year. Fast forward a few years later and Sbu is still making waves in the industry.
So, what were some of our lessons learnt?
1) “You might just have to take that R8-9k to get your opportunity”: It is a hard pill to swallow, but to make it in the world sometimes you will need to sacrifice in-the short term to benefit in the long.
2) “Earlier on in your career, allow yourself to stay with your employer and become fine tuned”: Sbu is an advocate for moving around in your career to better yourself while you can. As she puts it, “she has been around the block”! But she is also of strong opinion that you need to do the groundwork. You need to stick it out with an employer to develop a solid base, and learn the foundations.
3) “There is no working smart. There is working hard and becoming smart”: A rule that is punted around hugely in this industry, or any industry, is at all times to work smart, not hard. It’s a great rule isn’t it? But let’s be honest, Sbu has a point… It takes hard, in fact, very very hard work and consistent dedication to make things happen for yourself in your career. There is seldom an easy way out.
4) “Life isn’t fair. Just eventful”: A spoken like a true realist, Sbu knows about the challenges in life, and how to make the most of what you have been dealt.
She went on to speak about the nature of the magazine industry in SA: “the business of content & solutions, whether on newspaper/ magazine or digital platforms”. It is an industry which can no longer get away with “localizing international content” because South Africans “want to see themselves reflected in magazines”. We live in a nation where, finally, local really is lekka, and being ‘Proudly South African’ is not just a stamp on a logo. The Western influence will always be there and will, realistically always have its role in popular culture, but no longer is being South African something to deny. It is something that makes us very different from our counterparts, and finally we have learnt to love ourselves for it.
In speaking about True Love, Sbu was very clear about who they are talking to: “True Love woman is young, empowered and confident. She is not yet a powerhouse but well on her way.” As we in advertising know too well, knowing your audience is critical, and she sure does. She also acknowledges that one of her biggest roles is to control budgets – “Get the ever-lacking talented to take on more, while having to pay them less.” No easy feat.Probably the most interesting of statements of the day was how Sbu described her working world and perspective: “We work three months ahead. Right now (winter) it is summer in my world. In two months it will be Christmas.” Well, it’s no wonder she is so very fashion-forward and uber stylish!
It may be a rather strange visual, but when I visualise what I have learnt from Sbu, I default to an athletics track. One with different sized hurdles, kinks and potholes, but also one with trays of orange wedges on the sideline, water tanks, and massage benches. Perhaps this is inspired by the pace at which she has made things happen for herself, her infallible dedication and commitment to hard work, and the way she is constantly looking forward and never looking back.
Kathryn Aquadro, Strategic Planner, OIL JHBRead more
I’m no Justin Bieber fan but I must admit he’s a hard one to ignore. Take one glance at him and you naturally want to pass him off as just another new age teen sensation. That would be an easy solution but that’s not fitting for the biggest teen sensation on the face of the earth.
On closer inspection you’ll realize that there’s a lot to be learnt from the Justin Bieber brand by marketers, especially for those who are launching new brands/products in cluttered categories.
1. Fish where the fish are.
Justin Bieber’s entry into the music industry wasn’t a Cinderella story. As much as we’ve been led to believe that he was an overnight sensation – he wasn’t. Bieber was at first unable to secure any interest from major record labels and radio stations. The economic downturn and the inability to categorise his music were some of the hurdles he came across. This didn’t stop Bieber. He took to playing anywhere & everywhere that teen girls could be found. He performed at water parks, high school gymnasiums and malls. His dedicated mother would upload his videos onto Youtube. This is where Bieber would be discovered and where his loyal fan base was built. Giving up is not the answer, let your fans/customers give you the legs you need to enter the market. Persevere! Believe in your offering & don’t give up. It takes hard work & time to get to the top.
2.Harness the power of social media
The Justin Bieber brand was launched on Youtube and has relied on other social media platforms to further catapult his brand. Bieber relies on social media platforms to build a transparent relationship with his fans. His thousands of fans know they can rely on Twitter or Facebook to share a joke with Justin or to hear of his latest teen dilemma. Bieber will make appearances on traditional media (talk shows etc.), but his strength lies in his ability to remain directly connected to his fans 24/7.
3.You’re as strong as your team
Justin Bieber‘s team has ensured that they have consistently cultivated a winning brand. He has entrusted people with the right amount of passion and expertise to see him to the top – his dedicated mom (first manager), Usher (a seasoned industry veteran) and Scooter Braun (an influential young dedicated manager). Appoint the right people and you’ll stay winning.
4. Great hair helps!
Image is everything. Justin Bieber’s image has been closely monitored. From the clothes he wears, to who he’s seen with, the platforms he appears on and his mannerisms. He’s far from perfect – ok maybe his hair is! He’s cultivated a ‘boy next door’ image by associating with ‘Successful, influential and hard working’ Hollywood names. Usher, Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian and Ludacris are a few that come into mind. Always remember that the company you keep speaks volumes about you.
We don’t know what the future holds for Bieber but he’s played his cards well up until now.
When Top of the Pops editor, Peter Loraine, dubbed Victoria Adams as “Posh Spice” in 1996, little did he or she know that this would be the kickstart to her career as a fashion icon and glam diva. Ironically, Victoria was the least noticed of the Spice Girls group, often criticised as the least musically talented of the lot. She was there to look pretty, and did just that.
Fast forward 15 years to the Baby, Ginger, Scary and Sporty Spice girls being all but unforgettable memories of great fun, but cringe worthy fashion crimes (Daily Mail) like the Union Jack boobtube, platform shoes and feather boas. All but one: Posh Spice has stood the test of time.
So how did Victoria build a brand that’s lasted and evolved over 15 years, in a highly critical celebrity-scrutinizing society? There is no denying that in managing to bag herself David Beckham, an icon in his own right, Victoria guaranteed her spot as a Paparazzi darling as the head WAG. But, we feel she deserves more credit in having actively carved her own path of brand building:
1) Define what you stand for & maintain it: Image has always been everything for Posh, and she knows it. She is never seen looking anything but glamorous. She has been critised for being too thin, too harsh, too unapproachable, but she never wavered or let the public get to her. She stayed true to herself, all the while evolving her style with the times.
2) Consistent single-minded messaging: Google anything about Posh and it goes directly to fashion. No doubt this has strategically been achieved through PR and website optimisation, but it has worked in slowly seperating herself from music (which she was never realy admired for) and the Spice Girls, to rather establish herself as an independent and intelligent style icon.
3) Engaging communication: Posh has treaded the media landscape very carefully. Along the way mastering the art of keeping a relatively private personal profile whilst divulging a few saucy details to keep the media enchanted. Posh has managed to maintain an air of mystery about her that has kept magazine editors and photo hogs eating out the palm of her stylish hand. In an age of tailored personal communication, Posh has picked Twitter as her weapon of choice. Again she’s opted for the medium with only a 140 characters to communicate that demands an even smaller amount of personal information! She’s no rookie.
4) Good ol’ fashioned hard work: Despite being married, and now pregnant with her fourth child, Victoria is constantly building the Posh and Becks Empire. In the quest to solidify her status as a reputable fashion icon, she broadened her empire with three stylish fashion ventures: dVb denim brand, Intimately Beckham Fragrances and Sunglasses labels. This ventures have managed to secured her a spot as a guest judge on Project Runway 2008, and accolades such as accessory designer of the year in 2011. Not to be outdone, Posh has also released two best-selling books; an autobiography and a fashion guide.
Her clever combination of PR , hard work and keen fashion sense have paid off handsomely for Posh. She’s managed to rise the above the commonplace titles such as ‘former girl band member’ or ‘WAG’ and solidified her spot as a bona fide style icon. Victoria has convincingly evolved from ‘pop sensation Posh Spice’ to ‘power couple Posh and Becks’ –a phase where David seemed the bigger star and finally to the more sophisticated ‘seasoned fashionista-Victoria Beckham ’ brand.
Kathryn Aquadro, Strategy PlannerRead more
Celebrities are a core part of our culture. We love them and we loathe them. We learn from them and sometimes try not to learn from them. This month we are going to be taking a look at some lessons that we can learn from some of our celebrities that we can apply to the world of brand building and marketing
Since the world has gone goo goo for Gaga we thought we could start there:
Lady Gaga has taken the pop culture world by storm. Apart from the musical success story (115 awards and 246 nominations) she has managed to generate one of the biggest levels of influence in her time. Testament to this is seen through her toppling of Oprah in the Forbes celebrity 100, an honour not to be taken lightly.
In looking at her transition from Pop star to Brand, there are some interesting things to note about the rise of Gaga and the lessons that brand marketers can take note of. We have taken a stab at 3 of them:
- Have a distinctive point of view
If I had to ask you to recall the last 2 or 3 musical awards ceremonies I am sure among your memories would be a vivid image of Lady Gaga arriving in an egg or better yet receiving an award adorned with a dress made of meat. Now while some may look at it as Gaga being controversial or on the quest for that attention that defines modern day stardom (yes you Mr. Sheen) I think there is something to be said about how distinct and clear her point of view is, which ends up polarizing people, drawing some in and pulling others away based on what she stands for. In marketing terms we often talk of lighthouse brands being brands that stand for something distinctive and the role of that in attracting attention and pulling people towards you. Yes you won’t get everybody, but you will get very loyal people behind you. Lady Gaga has gotten this right and is exploiting it as much as she can where she can. With that said, we can’t wait for the 2012 Grammy Awards
2. Love, harvest and engage your following
Ask any loyal Gaga follower how they identify themselves and you are sure to hear the term “Little Monsters”. This is how the Queen Monster refers to her community. A community brought together by an idea much deeper than a record album. The extent to which Lady Gaga engages her fan base is second to none. A million plus strong Twitter following that is actively engaged and a dedicated monster channel built for interaction are among some of the ways in which she is constantly involved with her community. In a true showcase of love, Lady Gaga even created a video showcasing her special and active relationship with her monsters. There are some brands that have started doing this (see what Honda did) but not nearly enough. In today’s social era you cannot afford to overlook the many forums and streams of conversation that are taking place about your brand. Whether negative or positive, what are you doing about it as a brand?
3. Have a clear well crafted social strategy
To enjoy titles like the Queen of social media or to make it onto the Adage digital A-list is not something you stumble upon. Lady Gaga has 2 things going for her – she gets it (let’s not forget she is 25) and she is in control of it! Social media is not about a Twitter feed and a Facebook page. This fame monster is building a brand from the ground up and she is investing time, craft and clever execution into everything that she does, whether it manifests itself on a digital channel or it happens live on stage, it’s a deliberate approach in creating social engagement excellence. Brands don’t need to not shy away from the power of social. Get all over it. Get people on board who know how to make it work for you and create a workhorse that builds your brand. But think about it and plan it first! The tools are easily available, but that’s all they are – just tools, not strategy. One thing is for sure and that is social is not going away. You either keep up or fall off the relevancy wagon.
Can you think of any other lessons we can learn from Gaga? Let us know
Strategic Planner, Oil Cape TownRead more
At the 2011 Apex awards, Lowe Bull Cape Town and OIL won a Silver Apex award in the sustain category for Hansa Pilsener. There were no Gold awards handed out in the sustain category and so we think that makes us the actual winners!!
APEX is about recognizing advertising communications campaigns effectiveness, winning an APEX is the pinnacle of achievement for advertising and communications agencies and their clients.
Well done to OIL CPT and Lowe Bull CPT!!Read more