[THIS POST IS FROM MY 2008 BLOG]
Prior to relocating to Durban at the end of 2000, I did freelance branding work for a rock group called Nine, Levi Jeans, Sony Music, Big Concerts etc. I even had a gig or two with the Cape Town offices of Saatchi&Saatchi and JWT. I ran an underground hiphop magazine titled MOBSHOP I had dreams of landing myself the ultimate agency management job.
Sadly – after relocating – I had to settle for a position in a telecoms call centre because agencies in Durban are all very small and none of them had an interest in what I was offering. I did, after all, have zero “agency” experience. Whilst working at MTN (not for MTN – very important), I stumbled upon the Biz Community website and started reading the forums. The one thing that has been coming across VERY STRONG over the last 4 years is that young blacks are pissed off at big agencies for not wanting to give them a gig. Their reason in 100% of cases is that they either have not subject themselves to voluntary formal AAA School of Advertising brainscrewing that you actually pay for.. or they have not opted to go and learn from Vega School of Brand Communication the stuff that every Hillbrow or Yeoville drug dealer or carjacker can teach them for free.
And frankly, I am tired. So to my fellow young South African creatives of the darker skin colour, here’s my take on all your bitching and moaning on the Biz Community website.
YOU HAVE 3 OPTIONS:
- You can attend AAA School, who is now headed by Nkwenkwe Nkomo and is affilliated to the ACA, which is headed by Zandile Nzalo.
- You can go study toward a qualification in Brand Communication with Vega. Here you’ll sit at the feet of the master, his majesty Gordon Cook – brand navigator extraordinaire.
- Or you can take all that energy, that drive, that anger, that vibrance, that creativity, that stamina, that YOU.. and JUST DO IT.
I opted for this last one.
Until fairly recently, publishing was the exclusive playground of the few priviledged enough to have been able to study journalism and work for major publications for nothing -for a while. These days anybody with something to say has the platform and the audience to speak and be heard. Technology has enabled us, empowered us and afforded us that priviledge. You do not have to be able to execute linguistic acrobatics like David Bullard, Andrew Donaldson or Fred Khumalo. You don’t even have to own a computer. The tools are available and they are free.
Just like publishing, I have – in 2004 – seen the future of the creative sphere. It was September and I went for an interview with web development company Pilotfish. Following Adam Shapiro’s request to “tell me about yourself”, I spat the usual diatribe about my life and my passions in my best “Queen’s English”. His first question to me was: “Why are you not in your own business?”. I had failed to me mention.. and to remember that I owned a registered CC that could do anything (YES ANYTHING) except sell automobiles. That was an eye-opening moment for me. Right there I stopped giving a hoot about being employed. It was gonna be “Nike” from that moment onward. Just Do It.
I launched KOOLOOMA in May 2005. I’m not a strong believer in luck, so it was either the grace of God or me using the gift God has blessed me with optimally; but clients have come out of nowhere and I have been busy either designing, strategising, thinking, brainstorming, researching, consulting, printing or coding since then. I have never been to the AAA School or Vega by the way. Some of my clients are multi-national companies too.
And in the beginning.. yes I had to do a business card for the welder up the road for free, a website for the local accountant for R500 etc. All this to get a foot in the door. And once both feet were in the door, I was unstoppable. Almost bulletproof. I still am. The welder up the road got me some huge contracts from Engen. The accountant got me to write some heavy invoices for a blue chip financial house. I’m not rich, but I have that top agency management job I dreamt about.. and it pays a lot better than any agency would. I did of course attend university, but as far as the advertising industry is concerned, I don’t regret for one day having a public library education.
Best of all, not one day did I bitch and moan about agencies not wanting to give me a job. I made like Nike. I JUST DID IT.
In conclusion, we should perhaps stop looking at the WingWing Mdlulwas and Given Mkharis of this world. Their time is almost gone. This is the era of the small agency. Clients are already looking for agencies with no ties to competitors or similar industries. Massive companies like Unilever even have very small suppliers on their database. This is OUR time.
Don’t get it twisted though. There is nothing wrong with formal advertising education. I just don’t believe that you need it to be damn good at what you do. All you need for that is to have grown up and educated in a township.
JUST DO IT.