I had the great fortune of traveling from the U.S.-based Public Relations and Marketing agency Jackson Spalding to spend two weeks with Atmosphere Communications. In my time with this innovative and creative group of individuals, I learned first-hand not only what makes this agency so unique, but three key takeaways that make the PR industry within South Africa so distinctive.
Multicultural Marketing is Key – As an American, I’ve always heard South Africa referred to as the Rainbow Nation, but it took being here to really understand just how true that moniker is. I was so impressed to hear numerous languages being spoken around the office, and overall to discover how much language, culture, race and the country’s past impact marketing and PR. For example, ensuring that all communications are relevant and sensitive to the numerous cultures and traditions around South Africa – not an easy feat, but one that companies like Atmosphere tackle each and every day.
Cause Marketing – Something I found fascinating was how focused many of the campaigns were on efforts that make a positive impact on the country. For example, I saw campaigns championing local designers, campaigns centered on providing water for those in need around Cape Town and campaigns focused heavily on education and childhood literacy. Cause marketing is taken to a whole new level in SA, which was inspiring to watch.
Humor As a Way of Life – One of my favorite things about the South African culture is the sense of humor so many people have. It’s hard to describe, but the country just seems to not take itself too seriously, and this bleeds into PR and marketing efforts. Campaigns are innovative and impactful, but many of them have a humorous undertone as well. Take for example Nando’s. I was so surprised to learn of the company’s brand tone and how direct they can be when it comes to poking fun at local politics and other current events. In other countries, this may divide the customer base, but in South Africa, it’s seen as relevant, quirky and fun, and it underscores the overall light-hearted nature of the South African people.
These are just a few of the many industry takeaways I had from this amazing journey, but there’s so much to discover about this beautifully diverse, incredibly unique country, and I hope to return soon to continue my education!