Advertising industry transformation: What colour is an algorithm?

At a recent AMASA monthly forum, on transformation in the advertising industry, it seems that I might have upset a few people. Well, to be honest, I’m actually quite relieved. For one moment there, I thought I might be losing my touch.

It was suggested on the night that I should debate the issue of transformation more calmly and more academically. Be polite and just follow the rules laid out in the latest MAC SA Charter (MAC-2). My response is ‘stuff that!’ Who says intellect and passion are mutually exclusive? Let’s debate the issue with all the collective fury and creativity that we can muster and leave the polite exchanges to the dilettantes who make a living out of ticking the boxes on scorecards.

I mean, after all, look how well that has worked out for KPMG and McKinsey

Unfortunately, I didn’t get much beyond the starting premise for the AMASA forum, before taking the road less travelled by, because I simply don’t believe that the primary purpose of MAC-2 should be to redress the injustices of apartheid.

Now, before you say ‘Bah! Humbug!’ and dismiss me as the Ghost of Media Past, let me firstly say that I am in total support of the need for transformation. Hell, as chairman of the Advertising Media Forum at the time, I wouldn’t have signed the initial charter in 2007 if I didn’t believe in it.

I believe in transformation as an imperative for our industry, indeed for our nation, and so I accept that MAC-2 outlines a set of parameters that must be complied with. In fact, I urge the advertising industry to comply. But I also believe that compliance with the MAC Charter doesn’t mean real transformation, any more than sending someone a greeting card guarantees them a Happy Christmas.

I firmly believe that the purpose of MAC-2 should be to build a better, more equitable and more globally competitive advertising industry, and in so doing, to empower the individuals who want to work in advertising, by ensuring that we do…

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