Anny Mouton is the MD and the driving force of Ogilvy Namibia. Her career highlights include launching Saatchi Namibia in 1990, founding partner and creative director of Ogilvy Namibia from 1996-1998 and MD of Ogilvy from 1998-2007. She was the co-founder and director of Business School of Excellence and since 2009 Anny is back in the managing director’s seat at Ogilvy. Heavy Chef had the privilege of speaking to her about advertising in emerging countries, and acquired some lessons from her experiences in the advertising industry.
Hi Anny. What does your job at Ogilvy Namibia entail?
As Managing Director, my role shares many similarities with that of a ship’s captain. I set the co-ordinates for where our business is headed, then I make sure that we’re not thrown off course, regardless of how stormy the seas may be. Sure, it’s a volatile industry and heavy winds are par for the course, but my job is to turn any obstacles into stepping stones. Although I’m not supposed to be too heavily involved in the day to day nitty gritties, sometimes I can’t help myself if I pass through our Studio and see a great ad. I’ve seen countless ads but I’m still addicted to the adrenalin rush of The Next Big Thing.
How do you think the marketing scene differs in Namibia compared to developed countries?
The gap is definitely narrowing, and I attribute that to the ever-increasing influence of media in our daily lives. Our target audience now has greater access to the latest trends in developed countries. They know what’s hot and what’s not. So we have to give them our best, instead of dumbing it down, because they are sophisticated enough to know the difference. Having said that, we can’t copy-paste what worked in developed countries, forcefeed the local market and still expect identical results here. We have to give it a local, home-baked flavour. It all comes down to intimately knowing your audience, speaking their language and breathing their air.
What challenges do you face when it comes to trying to integrate Ogilvy Namibia with Ogilvy universally? How do you keep a seamless front?
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel widely, and I can tell you that even between neighbouring African countries, the cultural truths can be poles apart. Even in Namibia itself, the diversity is immense, so you can imagine how challenging it is to create a seamless golden thread across a gigantic global corporation. But as sister agencies we’re united by a shared passion for creativity, and an innate need to do things differently. By identifying the things that make Ogilvy stand out from the rest, we make the advertising world smaller, and think bigger.
What tips could you give to small businesses trying to gain momentum in the Namibian online marketplace?
I would say don’t be daunted by the country’s weaknesses and start focusing on its strengths. Yes, online usage has been slow to take off; but we also have one of the world’s highest mobile penetration rates, even higher than many developed countries. So use that to your advantage. If your customers can access the internet on their cellphones, you’ve won half the battle already. Be realistic. You won’t be able to change the world overnight. But you can certainly change your customers’ world.
Who else do you admire in the industry that you think others can learn from?
Obviously I’m biased, but I would say David Ogilvy. He grew up at a time when a TV was like magic to most people, yet his principles are still valid today. That’s something neither Nostradamus nor the Mayans could have foreseen. The fact that we’re even mentioning his name a century later, makes him a more timeless visionary than today’s Silicon Valley whizz kids, geniuses though they are.
Thank you for sharing your time with us Anny. You can check out Ogilvy Namibia’s Facebook page here.
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