Advertising board: Consumers must force firms to take transformation seriously

Speaking at a government webinar on the state of the industry, the Advertising Regulatory Board’s Didi Bojosi explained that there was a disjuncture between creativity and knowledge in the sector.

A hair product advert by retailer Clicks.

JOHANNESBURG – The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) said South African consumers needed to exercise their buying power more stringently to force companies to take transformation seriously.

Speaking at a government webinar on the state of the industry, the board’s Didi Bojosi explained that there was a disjuncture between creativity and knowledge in the sector.

The event comes after weeks of public anger directed at mega-retailer Clicks for flighting a racist advertisement on its website using disparaging language to refer to black women’s hair.

Bojosi added that while the regulations governing the advertising industry were comprehensive and accessible, it appeared that some companies ignored these.

“There is a lack of cooperation, to be precise, with some advertisers. So, you find that advertisers focus more on the creative part of their job and neglect the framework under which they are supposed to operate.”

INDUSTRY TONE DEAF, UNDERMINING YOUNG BLACK CREATIVES

The Association for Communication and Advertising (Aca) said while the advertising industry had transformed in terms of its racial composition, it remained tone-deaf due to the continued undermining of young black creatives.

CEO Mathe Okaba addressed government’s webinar on transformation in the advertising industry.

She said that while the majority of advertising agencies ticked the right boxes in terms of BEE compliance, this was not enough.

Okaba was blunt in her assessment of the industry she represented, saying it was in need of an authentic conversation about its impact on society which still failed to consider consumer sensitivities.

She said the only reason for the webinar was due to the recent racist campaign by Clicks.

Aca represents 39 South African advertising agencies.

Okaba said every ad industry creative should, despite their race, know what was right and wrong in terms of communication and how it landed on consumers, yet this was not the case.

“My agencies come to me and say Mathe, some of the markets do not allow young black opinions to be heard or young black creatives are not allowed to speak up.”

She said that until marketers insisted on experienced, diverse and knowledgeable teams, which were dynamics needed to have a transformed space, the industry would not move anywhere, just as it has failed to over the past 26 years of the country’s democracy.

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