As a South African working in the UK, I was always drawn to the attention to detail and quality that production agencies placed on brand activations. Having worked with the core founders of Collaborate Global over the years, and I was mostly impressed with their desire to create a collective of like-minded people to deliver sensational brand experiences to a worldwide audience. I know only too well that this ideology is much harder to deliver in the real world. I shared their vision and knew that I was able to help this crusade, and I joined the team – Collaborate Global was born.
When we first created our Collaborate Global brand proposition, we did so by placing a genuine emphasis on our ‘Local Roots, Global Reach’ tagline. For us it was more than just a marketing cry, it was our promise.
Having had my own experience in working in other territories outside of the UK, I immediately realised the opportunities this would bring, but I was very aware of the challenge ahead. It was always our desire to work with international brands, especially those that have centralised brand owners that deploy 3rd party project management in territory. It’s easy to witness how any given activation can be interpreted so differently.
I had already made the decision to move myself and my family back to South Africa, and in early 2019 it once again became home. This was all part of a strategic plan to build the Collaborate Global brand in Africa (a continent that is seeing increased presence for many international brands who are looking to meet the growth in consumer demand). I spent the first 3 months researching and observing the vast amount of activations that were happening in South Africa. I was also able to see with my own eyes the talent that was on the ground, and those projects that were being managed centrally versus regionally. It quickly became apparent that the fusion of South African creative talent and UK production skills could work together to great effect. For me, the real brilliance is being able to identify and connect with the audience on the ground. Even in South Africa itself, with its diverse demographic, there are huge differences (socially, politically and colloquially). Understanding both consumer and the wider activation chain is something that requires trust, energy and a great deal of time (something that isn’t always available 🙂 ). Building relationships means so much more in South Africa, and it requires patience and precision.
The great work that our UK business is doing has really helped put Collaborate Global on the international map. We’re pleased to report it wasn’t long before opportunities to work with some of our UK brands happened here in SA. Like all projects, we’re only as good as the work we produce, and I quickly found myself working closely with brand owners in the UK and my own production team here on the ground. The feedback we have received thus far has been extremely positive, and it appears the combination of skills and creativity is being well received.
But it’s not just about International brands seeking to enter and expand in South Africa. Yes, it can be rightly assumed that budgets may be larger when working with renowned brands, but there are many local brands based in South Africa that are looking to grow. Indeed, some have desires to reach wider overseas markets and follow in their luxury counterparts’ footsteps. Once again, having knowledge of both local and international audiences helps us create a more globalised experience that really connects for these brands.
I finish this article with probably the most interesting observation. For so many years a large proportion of people (in this instance South Africans) travel to the UK and USA to grow their own skills, experience and lifestyle – and for many different reasons, many never return. It makes me realise the sheer number of home-grown talent that have acquired the ability to affect the work that is locally produced. If I take my own journey as an example, I can see now the real difference I can make for my clients and partners, and I’m confident this mantra will not only deliver many more incredible activations, but also grow a pool of like-minded creators to our ever evolving team.
Local Roots, Global Reach indeed.