Stay Curious and Keep Learning

“What is a college? An institute of learning. What is a business? An institute of learning. Life, itself, is an institute of learning.” – Thomas Edison

I recently addressed a class at the University of Texas Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations. And while I only wish I were as succinct and insightful as Thomas Edison, here’s what I said:

I’ve been in your seat before. Sitting where you are right now, I was pretty sure I had my future figured out.

I wasn’t studying marketing or advertising. I was a double major in English and elementary education. I was going to be a first grade teacher. And I was. For two years.

But I’ve spent 40 years in advertising.

I’ve been on the creative side. I’ve been on the client side. And I’ve been on the client management side, where I’ve been for the last half of those 40 years.

I know that very few people have taken the career path I’ve followed. It’s a little odd, I’ll admit. But I wouldn’t change one leg of the journey. And here’s why: You learn something from everything you do. Every victory, every defeat, every mistake, every recovery. Every good boss, every terrible boss.

As a teacher, I learned the fundamentals of presentation skills. I learned about inspiring and motivating creative thinking. I learned about accountability. I learned about leading vs. managing. All of which have been invaluable in my “other” careers.

Presentation skills, for example, will be critical to your future in marketing and advertising. Whether you’re on the client side or the agency side – in creative, account management, media, or strategy – you’ll need to be a good presenter. The only power we have, particularly on the agency side, is the power of persuasion. I would go so far as to tell you that if you can’t or don’t want to present, this is most likely not the career for you. So work on your presentation skills every chance you get.

As a copywriter, and eventually an executive creative director, I learned that without strategy, creative ideas are rudderless. They will go nowhere and achieve nothing if they aren’t anchored by powerful insights into the problem you’re trying to solve. If you’re headed for a career in marketing and advertising, regardless of area of practice, you need to have a passion for strategy and strategic thinking. Take classes that aren’t just about the what but about the why.

I also learned that it’s not personal. Your ideas will die at the hands of others. Sometimes for valid reasons, sometimes because you didn’t express the idea well (see presentation skills), sometimes because it just did. In realizing that it’s not personal, I listened better to others’ points of view. And listening can often make those ideas live a little longer and perhaps even thrive. My advice is to grow thick skin and big ears if your future is in the idea business.

On the client side, as the managing director of an international company, I learned that the more you try to meet people where they live vs. where you live, the more work you can get done. You are the most diverse generation this country has ever seen, and I envy you that. Infuse your thinking and your work with that diversity.

I also learned that every decision you make as a client truly affects your business and the people who work there. I brought that reality with me when I came back to advertising. If your future is working at an ad agency, never forget that the ideas you come up with and the solutions you recommend can have a significant impact on your client and your client’s business. Your ideas are not the end – they’re a means to the end. I guarantee you that if you keep that in mind, you’ll have a client who listens to you and trusts you.

Today, as you sit there where I sat, you’re paying to learn. And what you learn will be invaluable in preparing you for your chosen career.

And when you get your first paycheck, turn the tables: Don’t think of it as someone paying you for the work you do – think of it as someone paying you to keep learning.

The post Stay Curious and Keep Learning appeared first on The Richards Group.

New agency BE catapults young talent into owner-managers

by Herman Manson (@marklives) Conversation LAB, a full-service digital agency headquartered in Durban and with offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg and London, has taken seven of its young black managers and given them majority ownership in their own agency: BE — a play on black empowerment but also on being bold, confident etc.

Taking middle management and catapulting them into owner managers of their own shop is an unconventional strategy but it addresses gaps in the current empowerment model employed by agencies, which often sees the majority of their staff members overlooked in favour of a one or two senior managers.

It comes with plenty of safety nets for the new owners of BE agency, says Kevin Power, co-founder and managing director at Conversation LAB. BE will be 51% black-owned by former Conversation LAB staffers, with the agency-holding company retaining the remaining 49%. Each of the staffers will hold a 5% stake outright — no cash required and no loan to repay. The only catch is that they “pay it forward” later on in their careers by creating opportunities for other deserving candidates.

Conversation LAB offers BE access to all its infrastructure, including offices and support staff. Should any of the new owner-managers decide they would rather return to the mother agency, their previous contracts resume, which is also the case should the agency fail for any reason. According to Power, the move is designed to offer black staff an equal footing and opportunity in owning a stake in their own agency. The aim is to transform their lives.

Back row (L-R): Jon Oliff (Conversation LAB/BE, head of technology); Siyabonga Ntamela (BE, senior art director), Kevin Power (Conversation LAB/BE group MD). Middle row: Kitty Mkhize (BE, account manager), Silindile Nkosi (BE, copywriter). Front row: Mark Stuart (BE, developer), Saudiqua Simpson (BE, senior SEO manager), Kevindren Govender (BE, technology lead). Absent: Samad Yakob (BE, SEO and UX manager).


The seven staffers picked to take up initial stakes in BE are:

  • Siya Nhlanhla: senior art director (with Conversation LAB for three years). He was awarded the first bursary to Vega given by Loeries in 2008 for creative talent from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. Nhlanhla then joined FCB as a junior art director and spent four years there in Johannesburg and Durban. He joined Conversation LAB in December 2014 and has won loads of awards from Smarties, Assegais, New Gen and more.
  • Silindile Nkosi: copywriter (Conversation LAB for two years). She started with Conversation LAB in social media after leaving Gorilla and has won a clutch of awards, including New Gen Awards Silver for best social media manager.
  • Khethelo “Kitty” Mkhize: account manager (with Conversation LAB for 2.5 years). She has worked in digital for leading Unilever agencies, including The Hardy Boys.
  • Saudiqua Simpson: senior search manager (with Conversation LAB for one year, based in Cape Town). Over the last 10 years, she has worked at several large digital agencies for premium clients such as, Capitec Bank, RE/MAX, Pam Golding, Woolworths and Deloitte. Simpson heads up the SEO function out of the Cape Town office.
  • Samad Yakob: senior search manager (with Conversation LAB for three years). He has worked in SEO and technology for over 10 years, and has spent his last three years with CLAB as a lead SEO manager.
  • Kevindren Govender: technology lead (with Conversation LAB for 1.5 years). He has been the back-end solutions developer for Conversation LAB.
  • Mark Stuart: developer ( with Conversation LAB for one year). He is part of the Facebook Bot Developers panel and has recently returned from the Africa Summit in Namibia. He has just launched ADvTECH’s new BOT technology for online leads — an industry first in South Africa.

The seven shareholders will eventually be expanded to 10. This could potentially include an MD, although Power, who will serve as MD in the interim, hopes the appointment will be made in-house, depending on the skill sets of staff currently working at the agency.

Investing in a new generation

Conversation LAB, through BE, is investing in a new generation of black agency leaders, says Power, in new small business owners and in industry transformation. BE’s new owner-managers will receive hands-on training on how to run a business. BE doesn’t have a rigid business plan but then neither did Conversation LAB, which has been built into a 75-person shop within five years. The idea is to learn, grow and adapt.

BE will be actively pitching for new business and has the backup and skill sets held within Conversation LAB available to it as required. BE is positioned as a full-service digital agency.




The post New agency BE catapults young talent into owner-managers appeared first on Conversation LAB.

FTC: We are evaluating “serious issues” in Uber data breach

In light of Uber’s recent data breach, the ride-hailer is being investigated by regulators in the U.K., Australia, the Philippines, and New York. Now the Federal Trade Commission is joining that list, reports TechCrunch. The FTC responded to reports that Uber paid off hackers to conceal the fact that data of 57 million account holders …

In light of Uber’s recent data breach, the ride-hailer is being investigated by regulators in the U.K., Australia, the Philippines, and New York. Now the Federal Trade Commission is joining that list, reports TechCrunch.

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The road to success through the eyes of an intern

Suc·cess /səkˈses/

Attainment of wealth, favor or eminence


Most would agree with this definition. Money, popularity and power don’t seem so bad, right?

As a centennial entering the workforce, I’ve learned that humanity desires much more. Success is not the attainment of wealth, favor or eminence, but rather perpetual joy.

GSD&M interns have Internship Experience Meetings which teach us about different departments within the agency. While learning about said departments, these meetings also helped me come up with what I consider to be the five necessities for true success:

Stay curious. I’m an acting major who interned with GSD&M’s communications team. Kelly Clemons is an architecture major turned IT intern, and Jack Epsteen—once a design major—is now the head of GSD&M’s production department. My point is: shadow people that are doing things of your interest, ask questions and don’t limit yourself. Never stop learning, because curiosity is key to being an active part of the world around you and can lead to paths unknown.

Serve others. Become a servant to those less fortunate than you by volunteering. The one thing no one can get back is time (sorry, guys, still no time travel). It’s the most valuable gift one can give. Staying concerned with the well-being of others can spill over into your work life and will contribute to your journey of success. 

You can’t do it alone. Staying humble is valuable because it drives you to create meaningful work. Remember that no one produces good work alone, so let your team know how grateful you are for them, and use them as a resource for constant inspiration and learning.

Got balance? Miguel Masso, a decision sciences intern, is a firm believer in putting work down at the end of the day and not picking it up until the following morning. Everyone’s beliefs on balance are different, but what we all know to be true is that if you aren’t healthy physically or mentally, what you produce won’t be your best product. We have to put ourselves first. 

Love the environment you’re in. Having a healthy work environment is genuinely rewarding. Any conflict or friction is easier dealt with because it’s known that we have a common goal. Regardless of your title, learn what that “common goal” is and keep it in mind when communicating and working with others. Love and care for your work environment, and it will do the same for you.

Internship Experience Meetings were meant to teach us about several departments within the agency, but for me, the outcome was a lesson about what success really is. At the end of the day, we are not accomplishments and titles. As human beings, we need to find joy in the process. That process is the journey, not a goal.


Suc·cess /səkˈses/

Attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence joy

Porsche surprised coffee drinkers at a cafe with something to really wake them up.

Adweek – November 20, 2017

By David Gianatasio

Recently, a coffee shop in Carson, Calif., began offering customers a mysterious new beverage called E-Jolt, telling them it was so “incredibly powerful,” they’d have to sign a waiver before ordering.

“Waivers for coffee is the hip new thing,” explains a bearded hipster barista in the clip below.

Folks who put pen to paper were whisked outside to sample the product, and they were in for a wild ride. Their hearts raced and they sped around in circles, though this particular hidden-camera stunt wasn’t really selling coffee at all.

Who needs java to rev you up when you’ve got the 680-horsepower Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, which goes from 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds? It leaves those Starbucks holiday cups in the dust!

Rides took place at the Porsche Experience Center, about two miles from the coffee shop, and the whole scenario was designed to “shake up perceptions of hybrid technology,” Marshall Ross, creative chief at Cramer-Krasselt, the agency behind the stunt, tells AdFreak.

“Hybrid engines are considered ‘good’ technology thanks to their ecological benefits,” Ross says, “but they’re not known for much else. No one thinks hybrids are fun or exhilarating. And those two notions are central to the Porsche brand. The way this car adds a mind-blowing element to what is normally a fairly dull driver experience made us think about what a jolt of caffeine does. It creates a buzz, opens your eyes, wakes you up.”

The cafe channels the vibe of old commercials set in fancy restaurants, where brands such as Folgers would secretly replace fresh-brewed coffee with instant. Here, Porsche adds a high-octane twist: “We’ve secretly replaced their coffee with a car,” Ross says.

C-K and Porsche have teamed up for inventive work before, including magazine ads featuring holograms and other novel technology. “Innovation is a core brand attribute we want to amplify in communications,” Ross says. “So, we’re always looking for ways to behave innovatively, rather than simply talk about innovations.”

For E-Jolt, the challenge was “to create a situation that would give people a smile because how we demonstrated the car felt fresh and surprising,” he says. “While the hologram may look more ‘techy,’ this was pretty technical from a camera point of view. This was true hidden-camera. The responses were real. There were a ton of cameras to hide to make this work.”

That realism factor actually made C-K “a little nervous” going into the two-day shoot, Ross says, because “the entire success of this project hinged on people taking the plunge,” and the team worried that the adrenalized sales pitch and waiver might dissuade too many folks from ordering. “But nearly everyone did [order an E-Jolt]. The only ones that didn’t either weren’t feeling well, or were creatures of habit.”

In fact, one guy “opted for a baby quiche instead of a ride in a 680-horsepower sports car,” Ross says. “Hope the quiche was good.”

The post Porsche surprised coffee drinkers at a cafe with something to really wake them up. appeared first on Cramer-Krasselt.

Conversation LAB celebrates new The Foschini Group account win

Conversation LAB Cape Town has won the fashion retailer EXACT, following its recent wins of Markham and Fabiani – also part of The Foschini Group (TFG) stable.

EXACT has appointed Conversation LAB as the digital agency to drive its digital and social presence. All work will be run out of Conversation LAB Cape Town office.

Nikki Crous, EXACT head of marketing, says, “We have ambitious plans in digital to ensure we deliver a unique brand experience for EXACT that drives brand awareness and sales. Conversation LAB demonstrated a real understanding of the scale of the task, as well as an in-depth insight into our target audience and the retail landscape that we operate in. We look forward to our partnership.”

Conversation LAB will manage a range of digital activity including website optimisation for the launch of the new e-commerce website and management and development of all content across social media platforms.

Kevin Power, MD of Conversation LAB, adds, “We strive to remain a highly agile and responsive agency, and working with top retail brands like EXACT and TFG ensures we do not lose that focus. EXACT affords us a huge opportunity to do some hard-hitting digital work that works in this tough trading environment. We are immensely proud to be afforded another key brand in the TFG stable.”

For more information, contact




The post Conversation LAB celebrates new The Foschini Group account win appeared first on Conversation LAB.

A family welcomes a new member in Pick ‘n Save’s heartwarming Thanksgiving spot.

Creativity – November 16, 2017

By Alexandr Jardine

Grocery chain Pick ‘n Save (a division of Kroger) takes a less price-focused, more heartwarming approach to Thanksigiving this year, with a spot about food and family.

The first of two ads by agency Cramer-Krasselt features a cute little Asian boy who seems bewildered by all the preparation going on for Thanksgiving around him. It opens with him sitting alone in a bedroom with a “welcome home” banner and listening to excited shouts from downstairs. In the kitchen, his adoptive mom tells him she’s cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and explains what that is. But he doesn’t smile until he’s sitting at the table and she announces that they have a special meal this year: a feast of Chinese food. She then welcomes him to the family. A second ad features a video call from an absent member of the family brightening up Christmas. Both were directed by Community Films’ Matt Smukler.

The post A family welcomes a new member in Pick ‘n Save’s heartwarming Thanksgiving spot. appeared first on Cramer krasselt.

Conversation LAB wins aQuellé

aQuellé has appointed Conversation LAB as its digital agency of record to manage the full brand portfolio, including natural spring waters and flavored drinks. The scope of work covers all social media activity, full content and campaign development, bought digital media planning and buying.

Conversation LAB will also be tasked with creating digital excitement for aQuellé’s sponsorships, which include the aQuellé Midmar mile, aQuellé Ocean Racing Series, and aQuellé Tour Durban.

“We have known Kevin and the Conversation LAB team for many years now, and have always liked their approach to business and their passion for what they do — a passion very like ours,” says Arno Stegen, managing director of aQuellé. “They certainly appear to be at the forefront of the digital communications game, always innovating and adapting to the changing landscape. It is what we were looking for in a partner for such a crucial channel as digital and our sponsorship space!”




The post Conversation LAB wins aQuellé appeared first on Conversation LAB.

A Presentation So Nice, We Did it Twice at EventTech 2017

Get the quick recap and full slide decks from Cramer’s presentations at EventTech 2017.
<p>Across the three-day conference, <a href=””>EventTech 2017</a> showcased the latest technologies, newest trends, top best practices, and biggest case studies.
<p>Our team was proud to join the conference creators, <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Event Marketer magazine</a>, and take the stage three times for two different fast-moving sessions (due to its’ popularity our 15 Tech Trends presentation both opened and, with an encore, closed Day 1 of the conference).
<p>But, in case you missed it, during the conference we also revealed the 2018 edition of our <a href=””>popular Event Technology Landscape</a>. With nearly 2x growth in just two years, our landscape – just like the EvenTech conference – continues to show the rapid growth and impact of event and experiential marketing technologies.
<p>You can <a href=”/downloads/eventtech-2017-presentations/”><strong>download our EventTech 2017 presentations here</strong></a> or review them below.
<h1>15 Tech Trends To Bet On</h1>
<p>Back by popular demand, this fast-paced trend spotting session will take you around the world for a sneak peek at the latest and greatest technologies you’ve probably never seen before. Uncover macro trends in the industry, see how brands are tapping new technologies, and walk away with a tablet full of inspiration, cutting-edge ideas, and fresh technologies to try at your next event.

<p>Here are the headlines for the 15 technology-driven trends that were showcased in our presentation:
<li>Facial Recognition</li>
<li>Gaze-based Interfaces</li>
<li>Tapping Brain Waves</li>
<li>Hacking Brain Waves</li>
<li>Artificial Voices</li>
<li>AI Video Production</li>
<li>Augmented Presentations</li>
<li>Augmented Desktops</li>
<li>Reeling in Reality</li>
<li>Shared Experiences</li>
<li>Live VR Events</li>
<li>Connected Networking</li>
<li>Blockchain Everywhere</li>
<li>Ink, Reinvented</li>
<li>Robots Come Home</li>
<h1><strong>The Best Platforms for Building B-to-B Communities</strong></h1>
<p>Community platforms, those “business social networks” of yesterday, have made a resurgence. From b-to-c players like Facebook, to b-to-b leaders like Salesforce, to the up-and-comers like Mighty Networks, event marketers have fresh opportunities and technologies for engaging their event communities year-round. In this session, find out what you need to know about the newest players and latest social platforms. Walk away with an overview of the options and a game plan to boost engagement between your brand and attendees at your next b-to-b event.

<p>If you would like to dig in further on either of these presentations, please reach out. <a href=”/contact/”>We’d love to keep the conversations going</a>.

Are Facebook’s garden walls finally being knocked down?

Anybody who’s come into contact with Facebook Ads Manager knows that accessing any useful insights into your campaigns is like drawing blood from a stone. As such, we could only dream of them giving us access to a competitor insight tool – think the business version of trying to stalk your blind date after Facebook upped their privacy settings in 2014. Paid Search has Adthena, SEO Linkdex – so why doesn’t Facebook have one? All that could be about to change with the introduction of a new feature that will essentially allow businesses to ‘spy’ on competitors ads.

One minute you’re not able to even pull a report split by your chosen targeting segments, the next they give you the means to see every single active ad your competitor is running, – along with how much they’re spending and who they’re targeting – with one single click. So what prompted this giant step? It all stems from that time it came out that a Russian political group had been pushing political messages in ads during the US presidential election. The ads were seen by approximately 10 million people and focused on race, immigration and LGBT treatment, and 44% were seen before the election on the 8th November 2016 – some starting as early as 2015.

The new feature, named ‘View Ads’ (bonus points to the genius behind that one), will enable anyone to click a single button on any Business Page which will then display all active ads across the three platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Messenger), even if the person looking is not in the target audience of that ad. It’s being rolled out in Canada first, with plans to extend this to the US by summer and hopefully all other countries will shortly follow suit.

facebook view ads tool for transparency screenshot

The difference with political ads moving forward is the extra layer of security, requiring buyers to verify their identities, and all election-related ads to include a disclosure that tells the consumer who they were “Paid for by”. Of course, you cry, there will be hundreds of organisations that will point blank refuse to do this!? Well, Mark Zuckerberg announced the company’s plans to hire 1,000 people to review the content, context and targeting of adverts, as well as investing in machine learning to assist and automate the process.

Further steps Facebook is taking to manage the above include tightening restrictions on advertiser content and expanding their policies ”to prevent ads that use even more subtle expressions of violence”. What exactly Facebook classifies as ‘subtle violence’ is currently unclear. They also mention working together with other companies such as Twitter – who have also admitted to being affected by Russian interferers – as well as governments to share information of known malicious accounts, ads and the strategies troll use to banish them from every platform.

So, is this Facebook giving us a competitor analysis tool? Perhaps not, but it can only be a good thing. After all, no one can forget about that ad category disaster back in September (if you’re reading this Facebook, we still want targeting strategies as a reporting breakdown).

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