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Journal of Strategic Marketing Newsletter – August 2020

Journal of Strategic Marketing Newsletter – August 2020


It has been an extraordinary time. And no, not just because of the global coronavirus pandemic. In the past few months, we witnessed two astronauts take off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre for the International Space Station in the SpaceX Crew Dragon. It was the first crewed flight by SpaceX, the company founded by South African born Elon Musk. And we watched it all.

For a Star Trek fan, it was riveting stuff. Not just the space travel aspect of these missions, but that we could communicate with astronauts in space in real time. Who can forget Captain Chris Hadfield singing David Bowie’s Space Oddity in the ISS. Or Star Trek’s original Captain Kirk, played by William Shatner, tweeting Hadfield in space.

@Cmdr_Hadfield Are you tweeting from space? MBB,” Shatner wrote, signing off with his abbreviation of ‘My Best, Bill’.

And Hadfield responded, calling Shatner ‘captain’, bless him: @WilliamShatner Yes, Standard Orbit, Captain. And we’re detecting signs of life on the surface.”

Astronaut Doug Hurley, too, tweeted from space, sending magnificent photos of Earth, including images of Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg which had South Africans entranced and sharing like crazy. When our world was reduced to four walls during lockdown, astronauts showed us a very big picture.

Social media kept us connected to that wider world, reaching even to space. It’s not surprising marketers and brands had to start thinking about how to utilise that reach, especially on emerging youth platforms such as TikTok and Twitter. Even Instagram changed, morphing from a (mostly) superficial look at pretty stuff into something that chronicled users’ lives much more realistically.

What seemed like magic even 20 years ago is the norm now. Artificial intelligence in popular culture was a construct we saw in sci-films and TV shows. But now it’s a reality. And it will play an increasingly important role in the marketing sphere.

In this issue, we’ve taken a look at the application of AI in marketing. Dr Myles Wakeham, Carl Wakeham and Maria Hamman outline where we are now, and where AI will be in the near future. IBM Watson’s ‘Lucy’ can write in-depth marketing plans, sourcing and analysing all the data needed to so so. It’s a vital overview marketers need to note.

In their story on beauty marketing in the age of influencers, Zama Nkosi-Mabuye and Cuma Pantshwa interview the gorgeous Kim Zulu, a virtual human and influencer. Zulu says the global pandemic has “hastened our pathway to more technology driven solutions, we see it across all consumption of media”. She came to ‘life’ in April. Her creator, Jason Campbell, told TimesLIVE, “lockdown has forced us to actually realise that there is a whole environment online and we want Kim to be at the centre of that environment or even kick-start that idea of transacting online”.

Back on earth, lockdown also saw us communicating excessively on social media, and witness the surge in TikTok and Twitch, as well as Instagram, as spaces where brands could communicate with humans who were locked down and desperate for entertainment. We’ve checked in with agencies working in this space on how the conversations have changed, and where they’re going.

Finally, a well-grounded story on the importance of employee experience. Also spurred by Covid-19, EX the new battleground for increased productivity and competitive advantage.

There’s certainly a lot to think about in terms of ‘marketing the future’.

Glenda Nevill


1 - IMB Watson Lucy 2108

Hello Lucy. Please solve my marketing problems

IBM’s Watson’s Lucy can be used to determine market segments, develop products, conduct competitive or market analyses, handle media planning, provide the numeric marketing data needs in writing a marketing plan, and assist with salient information in developing a marketing strategy. DR MYLES WAKEHAM, CARL WAKEHAM and MARIA HAMMAN give some idea of the power of AI in marketing.

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the creation of human-like intelligence that can process, learn, reason, plan, and discern natural language.

AI comes in three forms, namely, narrow AI, with which we are involved with on a daily basis and which is designed to perform specific tasks within an area (technology with intelligence in a particular domain) and general AI which is not area-specific and can learn and perform tasks anywhere and finally strong AI, which is an artificial super intelligence. Thus far, we have only managed to master narrow AI.

2 - BeautyMarketing 2108

Beauty marketing in the age of influencers

As beauty marketing moves from medium to medium thanks to technology, some remnants of a time gone by seem to linger even though the innovators of the space show that audiences demand some authenticity. ZAMA NKOSI-MABUYE and CUMA PANTSHWA of Asante Blush look at how beauty and the conversations around it continue to evolve.

The beauty industry is one of the few that continues to grow and keeps its share of the pie when it comes to how women spend their money. Even though the face of the industry is slowing shifting, there are some ways the beauty industry and the marketers that shape the narrative refuse to evolve at the same pace as their consumers.

It wasn’t that long ago that glossy magazines and TV were the playground of big beauty brands. Stunningly shot double page spreads used to reign supreme, then advertorials had their moment in the sun. Now that influencers are the ones driving trends and consumer interest, it would make sense to think the narrative for beauty brands would be different, but is it really?

3 - InstaTikTok 2108

From quarantine culture to mainstream, social is open for business

There’s no doubt social media kept millions entertained (and sane) during lockdowns around the globe. And while Facebook and Twitter maintained their popularity (perhaps among an older demographic), the growth of Instagram, TikTok and Twitch has been phenomenal. How did brands take advantage of the captive audiences? GLENDA NEVILL asks South African digital marketing agencies working with influencers to share their stories.

Social is open for business. Quarantine culture is a powerful thing. And brands need to rethink existing consumer journeys and paths to purchase to align with changes in daily routine. Things are getting real out there, and marketers need to be aware of just how much consumers have changed, and continue to do so.

4 - Employee Experience 2108

Why Covid-19 has brought employee experience to the fore

Marketers will be closely looking at employee experience in the coming months and years. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how essential it is to have a positive workforce.

In her piece on the changes Covid-19 has wrought on the marketing sector in the July 2020 Journal of Strategic Marketing, IMM Graduate School head of academics, Angela Bruwer, referenced the importance of employer branding/employee experience.

“Marketers should and will be looking at this more and more during this time,” she wrote. “It is essential to have a positive workforce who are positively impacting on the country at this time. As organisations across various industries try and regain their commercial foothold, they will want to count on the contribution of every employee. The immediate past and the present moment calls for unparalleled feelings and acts of community by organisations towards their employees: a new bond has been forged and it could be to the advantage of both parties.”

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IMM Graduate School rises to the Covid-19 online challenge

The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic defined the first semester of 2020 for most people across the world, including our IMM Graduate School students and staff.  True to our values of thoughtfulness, commitment and student centricity, our team implemented digitally led strategies resulting in a seamless transition to online learning and full, high quality education experience for our students. All our qualifications were completed successfully and on time. IMM Graduate School completed another successful student intake for the second semester of 2020, despite the current environment and uncertainty. During times of disruption, investment in a high quality education and relevant skills becomes ever more important. Our intake reflected this trend with many new students trusting IMM Graduate School to provide an education that will prepare them for the future. ~ Dalein van Zyl, CEO of the IMM Graduate School.

MPhil students start next phase of research papers

Most of the 13 students who presented their MPhil Research Proposals at a virtual panel event were successful and have been given permission to proceed with the fieldwork once recommended changes have been made to their proposals and ethical clearance has been granted.  These students will most likely attend the 2022 IMM Graduate School graduation events to receive their MPhil in Marketing certificates.  The panel interacted online with students from all over South Africa and from neighbouring countries with the study supervisors as participants. Proposals were submitted on a range of marketing-related focus areas, including:

  • The use of algorithms in strategic decision making about marketing on social media
  • Evaluating the impact of COVID-19 on the loyalty of diners in the sit-down restaurant industry
  • The influence of user-experience on customer retention in the business-to-business SME sector
  • Gauging the impact and influence of social marketing on the Zimbabwean Telecommunications Industry

The influence of the brand of the country of origin in purchasing of engineering products.

Marketers increasingly ‘conscious’ of pitfalls

The Conscious Advertising Network is being inundated with queries from marketers on how to navigate the minefield that is marketing right now. From Black Lives Matter to #StopHateForProfit, digital marketers are terrified of putting a foot wrong and being hammered with a social media backlash. Co-chairman of the Conscious Advertising Network, Jacob Dubbins, told The Drum: “Advertising needs to step up to its responsibility for its supply chain and the fact that it funds the internet; the good stuff and the bad stuff.” Dubbins said the network of over 70 agencies had been swamped with queries. “At the convergence of the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and the Facebook boycott, we’ve been contacted from all over the world by campaigners, brands and also big networks who once weren’t necessarily too keen to engage.”

Nike’s latest campaign hits and misses

Staying on the topic of Diversity, and Nike’s latest campaign has been lauded around the world… but it’s own employees are not as impressed. The You Can’t Stop Us campaign features high profile athletes, including South Africa’s Caster Semenya, Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, Serena Williams and often-controversial former NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick among many others. It was created by  Wieden+Kennedy’s. The creative team searched through 4 000 pieces of footage to find perfect shots that would underscore the commonalities between athletes. But The Financial Times reported that a group of black Nike employees believe the company should acknowledge its own equality issues before promoting an ideal on TV.

Survey confirms massive uptake of online shopping, but fear of unreliable payment solutions

A digital customer experience report by Rogerwilco, ovatoyou and Julia Ahlfeldt has, not surprisingly, confirmed massive uptake of online shopping since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The big online category winners were grocery shopping, health and fitness, and education. The bad news is the CX study found unreliable payment solutions were a major pain point for consumers. And it revealed that only 50% of programmatic advertising reaches its target audience. “This suggests that local brands are wasting over R1-billion on failed acquisition – money that could have been spent on building a better understanding of existing customers and creating experiences that foster loyalty,” said Charlie Stewart, CEO of Rogerwilco.

Building digitally enabled business models

The first virtual CEO Dialogue series, co-hosted by the Shared Value Africa Initiative and Strathmore University Business School, focused on the future of work in Africa and the impact of the digital economy on the continent’s growth. Panellists discussed the underlying fears of new technologies replacing humans and pointed out that it is the responsibility of all our leaders from the private and public sector to create an inclusive future of work – one capable of generating opportunities for all, especially young entrepreneurs. The primary message was that we could achieve so much more if we collaborated and worked together and that companies should focus on building digitally enabled business models, which are purpose driven, inclusive and sustainable.