Media focused on black South Africans, an untapped goldmine

South Africans are campaigning against racism everywhere, but it is still only a minority of advertisers that are putting their money where their mouths are by investing their ad spend to target the reality of the marketplace . Many advertisers are basically stuck, doing what they have always done. 

To change this means facing up to some cold hard truths. One of these is the fact that black consumers now dominate almost every advertising category across the board. When an advertiser takes this into consideration when apportioning their ad spend, they not only increase media and advertising effectiveness, they directly invest in their primary consumers, ultimately driving the market growth that they are seeking.

It is very hard to understand why this is happening at such a slow pace. 

At a time when every supermarket chain and car brand is a champion of social justice, it can be encouraging, even sincere, to see marketers accept one of the industry’s inconvenient truths: they have underinvested in their main growth market. As South Africans start to question the authenticity of so-called woke advertising from marketers, a genuine attempt at inclusive media buying can be a sincere counterpoint.  

Recently our team at United Stations, have taken on the exciting job of marketing South Africa’s most successful podcaster, Mac G. Mac G is a phenomenon and he holds unparalleled  insight into which topics will resonate, where to find the audience and how to show up authentically with brand messaging. His audience engagement and reach across one single episode, outperforms the weekly cumulative audience of many commercial radio stations in South Africa. We have been surprised at how difficult it has been to get support for what is one of the most valuable advertising opportunities available today. 

In an attempt to understand where the friction lies, we have addressed issues around value, we’ve helped our advertisers understand the sheer power of engagement that Mac G delivers and we’ve offered meaningful targeted information around the opportunity. Our prospects objections, basically boil down to being afraid of fuelling a conversation and views that are different from their own. Mac G’s unprecedented success is at the same time his downfall. He is too popular with the main market and South African advertisers are not yet ready for that.

Mac G is a microcosm for how advertisers see inclusive media buying. They talk about doing it in broad brush strokes but there are always serious implications to consider when ad spend is actually moved from a legacy media owner to a new black targeted one. There is a reluctance to drop “what we know”, for a new opportunity, and facts don’t seem to be enough to change that.

Being able to make those calls, is part of the reason why FNB, Shoprite, Bliss Chemicals and Tiger Brands have invested in the likes of Jozi FM, Vuma and Rise FM, at the same time enjoying superior return on investment. While it hasn’t led to massive radio spend being moved from the legacy stations, it has steadily increased the amount that makes its way to black targeted media. 

As marketers, we really need to take confident steps towards eliminating these inconsistencies in our media plans. Brands will reap the benefits of investing in the media that dedicate their time and their livelihoods to informing, entertaining and connecting with black audiences. This is not just a case of jumping on the latest industry trend; it’s a smart and strategic business decision.

Written by Rivak Bunce, MD of United Stations.

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