Book Of Swag ECD Pens a Love Letter To SA Advertising In The Time of COVID-19

I wanted to write a billet-doux to everyone in the creative industry after attending a 10and5 Webinar Talk hosted by the publisher and founder of this very platform, Uno de Waal. The Webinar featured industry counterparts and good friends of mine, Grant Sithole, Nkgabiseng Motau, Neo Mashigo, and Roanna Williams.

I know our industry can be unfeeling and our clients can be impertinent and insidious at times. I know that you are working diligently to get the work out, and I understand the ideation sessions are not the same without the foosball game in between or the walk to Hogshead for a beer and an Eisbein with mash and sauerkrant (Grant’s favourite). COVID-19 e tsene vele and there is a lot of uncertainty in our personal and professional lives, we don’t know what will happen in the coming weeks if not months, however, we have shown resilience and enthusiasm amidst it all.

Most creative agencies had already been accustomed to Zoom, Mondays, and Slack as the everyday modus operandi. We even brainstormed via Discord or Twitch on Fridays after the bar opened.

Some clients are worried about the capacity and ability of agencies to meet deadlines and deliver quality work. I was worried that work will be passed down to junior staff and there won’t be any quality control systems in place to ensure that the work can compete on a global scale. But, it turns out that everyone is highly capable regardless of where they sit in the hierarchy, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Most of you have a solid contingency plan. It seems working remotely is not an issue to any of you, even for us extroverts that thrive on high-fives and licking people’s faces.

The only scary thing is how this is going to affect the economy and influence budgets for the jobs that are already in the system or in the pipelines. Other than that, most of us are excited about the post-pandemic possibilities, our collective creativity, as well as our inherent stamina to forge ahead.

My former business partner and now head honcho at Trending Topix, Thulane Radebe says we are all going to come out of this reborn, refreshed and equipped to take over the world, and for the first time in a while, I agree with him on something. I am very much aware that there is nothing utopian about these trying times. If you are struggling, anxious, experiencing depression or can’t sleep. I want you to know that it’s okay to experience turmoil and distress, continue to lay one brick after another, continue to move swiftly in the direction of your dreams.

I am appreciative of moments like these, moments that call for compassion and vulnerability in the industry – we can band together without competition and any egos at play.

So, in closing. Here is a side note to agency leaders, ECDs, Brand Managers and CMOs. You sure can trust your people, especially the young talent that’s eager to work on anything and everything that is thrown at them. You might have to strip away the boarding school restrictions; you don’t have to chain your people to their desks all day. Flexible working hours, please. Maybe the outcome will fuel and influence a healthy work environment, a charged up, productive and creative eco-system that can solve all your business problems with rigour and flair. The new new is upon us, let’s step into it with a bounce and a lot of swag. I’ll see you all at Royale when this is all over.

Khathutshelo Bapela is an ECD at Book Of Swag, Curator at TEDxSoweto and an Organizer at Fuckup Nights Cape Town.

Between 10 and 5