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What SA can learn from Cannes ad festival

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At this year’s Cannes Lions advertising festival, South Africa scored many accolades – but not a single prize for digital work. This was hardly surprising, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

It took a flood of insults to point the way to a new trend in digital advertising. A campaign featuring supermodel Gisele Bundchen won a Grand Prix, the premium award, in the Cyber Lions, the digital category of the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

The campaign began with the announcement of an unlikely partnership between Bundchen and macho brand Under Armour. It sparked a flood of both subtle and outright sexist insults in conventional media and social networks.

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And that’s when the campaign truly kicked in. Real comments were used in TV ads featuring Bundchen working out. Under Armour’s website used a custom “engine” to scrape the Internet for insults, and projected them on the site in real time – all accompanied by videos and images of Bundchen in action.

The message? Bundchen had both the physical and emotional strenght to block out even the worst of the insults. Not only did it send a message of empowerment, but also combined numerous platforms, sources and technologies.

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Most important, it delivered results: 1,5-billion media impressions and a 28 per cent increase in sales. The campaign won another two gold Lions and four silvers for its various achievements.

No one is suggesting that an equivalent campaign could have been created in South Africa. But it is noteworthy that this country barely features in the Cyber Lions, while having a proud history across the rest of the competition.

This year, South Africa took 16 out of 58 awards for Radio, a category

It has dominated over the years, proving there is no shortage of advertising creativity in this country.

So why does it fall so short in digital? One answer was suggested to this writer two years ago during judging of the annual Bookmark awards, which recognise excellence in digital creative work and execution in South Africa. Some of the best work on show was brilliant in its execution, but clearly followed in trails blazed by digital pioneers elsewhere.

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While such works were not necessarily derivative, they were also not particularly brave, given that they were built on well-established foundations. And they barely left a mark in the collective South African psyche.

The best of South African radio advertising, on the other hand, tends to be both bold and memorable. One senses creative decision-makers ready to stick their necks out, which is a sign not only of courage, but also of confidence. They know what they’re doing, and are always ready to try something new.

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In the digital category, on the other hand, we tend to be led by what is happening elsewhere, and what has been made possible by others. It’s a matter not only of limited technical knowledge, but also of failing to appreciate the boundaries of digital creativity – or rather, the lack of boundaries. Globally, it is a medium that is being reinvented every day, and slowly becoming more important than most other traditional forms of advertising.

Eventually, all advertising will be a sub-category of digital. Until a few years ago in Cannes, however, digital was a poor relation of TV, radio and press advertising. In South Africa, it still is.

* Arthur Goldstuck has been a judge in the digital category of both local and international advertising festivals. He is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee, and subscribe to his YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/GGadgets

All the Cyber Lions Grand Prix and Gold winners

Campaign Brand Agency Country Award
Gisele Bündchen – I Will What I Want Under Armour Droga5 New York USA Grand Prix
Hammerhead Hammerhead Navigation R/GA New York USA Gold Lion
The Other Side Honda Motor Europe Wieden+Kennedy London United Kingdom Gold Lion
Gisele Bündchen – I Will What I Want Under Armour Droga5 New York USA Gold Lion
The Berlin Wall Of Sound Soundcloud Grey Germany Düsseldorf / Grey Germany Berlin Germany Gold Lion
Gisele Bündchen – I Will What I Want Under Armour Droga5 New York USA Gold Lion
Look At Me Samsung Electronics Cheil Worldwide Seoul South Korea Gold Lion
Groceries Not Guns Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America Grey Canada Toronto Canada Gold Lion
#Likeagirl Procter & Gamble Leo Burnett Toronto / Leo Burnett Chicago / Leo Burnett London / Holler London Canada Gold Lion
The Other Side Honda Motor Europe Wieden+Kennedy London United Kingdom Gold Lion
Print For Help Hewlett-Packard Brasil FCB Brasil São Paulo Brazil Gold Lion
Dream On Adobe Goodby Silverstein & Partners San Francisco USA Gold Lion
The Ice Bucket Challenge The Als Association The ALS Association Washington USA Gold Lion
#Likeagirl Procter & Gamble Leo Burnett Toronto / Leo Burnett Chicago / Leo Burnett London / Holler London Canada Gold Lion
Unskippable: Elevator Geico The Martin Agency Richmond USA Gold Lion Campaign
Unskippable Geico The Martin Agency Richmond USA Gold Lion Campaign
Unskippable: Family Geico The Martin Agency Richmond USA Gold Lion Campaign
Unskippable: Family Long Form Geico The Martin Agency Richmond USA Gold Lion Campaign
Unskippables: High Five Geico The Martin Agency Richmond USA Gold Lion Campaign
Clever Buoy Optus M&C Saatchi Sydney Australia Gold Lion
House Of Mamba Nike Akqa London / Akqa Shanghai United Kingdom Gold Lion
Safety Truck Samsung Leo Burnett Argentina Buenos Aires Argentina Gold Lion

 

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VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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