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South Africa, Press Review

12. January 2010

Joburg one of world's Most Creative Cities

A host of award-winning Johannesburg advertising agencies have placed the city in a leading position in world creativity rankings. The Cannes Report 2009 placed Joburg in the top 10 of the world's Most Creative Cities last year, based on its innovative advertising industry. Joburg came in ahead of cities such as San Francisco, Amsterdam, Berlin and Buenos Aires.

The report highlights official rankings of advertising agencies, regions, countries and cities based on their performance at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, hosted annually in the French coastal city of Cannes. The rankings are based on how many Cannes Lions a city collectively achieves.

London topped the list for the fourth consecutive year, with New York and Sao Paulo again in second and third spots. Joburg, home to one of the most coveted advertising agencies in the world, TBWA Hunt Lascaris Johannesburg, won 17 Cannes Lions in total.

Gavin Heron, the TBWA Hunt Lascaris group managing director, said all the cities that were ranked in the top 20 were an amalgam of different cultures; however, Johannesburg was a magnet for people from all over Africa.

"It is also a city that, culturally and historically, has been built on struggle and endeavour, [but] it is solutions oriented. This leads directly to people believing that 'impossible is nothing'," he said.

Sophie Mayer, the company's group marketing director, concurred, adding that Joburg fed people's ambition. "Jozi oozes street cred, underground culture, infectious energy and has a positive fighting attitude which is our daily source of can-do," she said. "It is slick, fast-moving and caters for successful people who like to work hard and play hard."

Heron said there was something about Johannesburg that no other city could replicate. "It's African, it's global, it's massive but accessible, it's a forest in the bushveld, and it's chaotic but ordered. Creativity thrives on paradox and cultural merging."

Jacques Stoltz, the senior marketing manager at the Gauteng Film Commission, said it was gratifying to see that Johannesburg and its advertising agencies were faring well at international level. "We are one of the creative hotspots in the world," he said.

Quality and innovation were the main reasons for the international rise of the local creative industry. It was "our ability to understand first world and third world markets and branding" that made local agencies so competitive, he said.

He referred to the 2009 Commercial Producers Industry Survey, which tracked 19 companies: "When one also looks at the increasing popularity of Gauteng as a locations destination in the commercials production sector, having a 50,1 percent market-share, it shows the city and province are definitely becoming a force in the creative sector, not only in terms of creative work but also as a prime locations destination."

History made
Joburg also had much to be proud of after TBWA Hunt Lascaris Johannesburg made Cannes history. It was the highest ranked agency across Europe, the Middle East and Africa scooping one grand prix in the billboard category, equivalent to an Oscar in the film industry; one Titanium Lion, which recognises integrated creativity; five Gold Lions; one Silver Lion; and two Bronze Lions.

The agency's Trillion Dollar Campaign for The Zimbabwean, the newspaper critical of the Mugabe regime that has had to relocate to the United Kingdom, was the most awarded campaign in 57 years at Cannes. Made out of worthless Zimbabwean money, it earned TBWA nine awards.

Mayer said different elements of Joburg inspired the TBWA team. "We get our inspiration from Jozi's streets, bars, jazz musicians, hotels, sidewalks, parks, taverns, pedestrians and most of all its attitude towards life."

Two other local agencies featured in the top 20 advertising agencies in the world in the Cannes report. Ogilvy Johannesburg came in at number 13 while Net#work BBDO Johannesburg was number 17.

Julian Ribiero, the managing director of Ogilvy Johannesburg, said the agency was proud of the rating, especially after the local arm was rated the best performing Ogilvy agency in the world at Cannes.

After such a stellar haul at Cannes in 2009, these advertising agencies plan to improve their performances to get Joburg a higher overall ranking.

Mayer said it would take a collaborative effort from everyone, including local tourism and the City of Joburg.

For more on the Cannes Report 2009, visit the official website of the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

Source: City of Johannesburg website: http://www.joburg.org.za/content/view/4705/266/ http://www.joburg.org.za/content/view/4705/266/

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