1 Min. With A Superhero: Zibusiso Mkhwanazi, Founder Of Digital Marketing Agency AVATAR

Today we’re chatting to Zibusiso Mkhwanazi, a multi-award winning South African digital entrepreneur and the CEO of AVATAR. Zibusiso serves on the boards of the National Economic Education Trust and is the chairman of the The Red Quarter brand agency. Most recently Zibusiso has been nominated as one of the Top 25 Media Game Players in the industry by Jeremy Maggs.

Zibusiso, in your opinion, what are the most exciting trends happening in digital marketing right now?

It definitely must be content marketing, big data, ‘mobi-first’ campaigns and the next level of SEO called targeted discovery.

As a local head of a digital marketing agency, did South Africa’s corporates finally come to the digital party in 2012?

Some do but largely not – the budgets they allocate don’t reflect their seriousness towards digital. Then again, advertising agencies should also be smarter about how they incorporate digital into marketing for maximum engagement. In 2013, the budget is more about how the agency decides to spend the allocation, rather than client.

SA’s digital personnel seem whiter than the Norwegian football team. Are you seeing a lot of young black faces coming into the mix, or is there still a lot of work to be done to transform?

No. I am definitely not. Many agencies complain about lack of education and skills, but are not willing take the risk to spend the time and money to invest in young black talent. Everyone likes a readymade solution, but the reality is that a lot of black talent comes from disadvantaged backgrounds. It will take a lot of guts and a radical shift in mindset or this problem will take a very long time to fix. What is truly saddening is that many agencies don’t realise that lack of transformation will ultimately reflect in the quality and impact work.

Which digital individuals and agencies do you admire in the local and international scene?

I believe the future of the digital agency is very dark. The world is too fixated about platforms for marketing content and not the bigger picture. Marketing agencies that understand digital very well amongst other things will be the survivors. Locally I admire Mike Abel and M&C SAATCHI ABEL – and internationally, David Jones from Havas.

Are there any case studies in African digital that you point to and say “I wish I did that?”

Yes. The Mpesa initiative [the mobile-phone based money transfer and microfinancing service].

Thanks for chatting to us at Ideate. Zibusiso, we wish you all the best in the future.