PHD Media Worldwide > News > Anne Dearnaley, PHD South Africa CEO, shares insights into powering the ad industry through COVID-19 and beyond
September 17 2020

Anne Dearnaley, PHD South Africa CEO, shares insights into powering the ad industry through COVID-19 and beyond


Anne Dearnaley, CEO, PHD South Africa

Anne Dearnaley talks to Carey Finn at for their Q5 interview series.

Q5: What is the biggest challenge facing South African brands and adland right now?

AD: Consumer uncertainty and shifting perceptions are probably the biggest [ones]. With consumer uncertainty comes a change in consumer behaviour – a difficult discipline for brands to navigate during a global health pandemic.

Q5: How can agencies best protect the brands they work on during times of crisis – and during this pandemic, specifically?

AD: It has never been truer that fortune favours the bold. Taking the right action at the right time, based on the right insight from the right data, will help brands weather the crisis – but brands must act with conviction. Brands need to double down on creativity and innovation and make the leap to secure their place in this “new normal” world.

Keeping the lights on for as long as possible is imperative, supported by studies which show that those brands [which] continue advertising in a downturn reap the rewards in the long run.

Q5: You emphasise the importance of collaboration to carry the advertising and marketing industry through the pandemic. What does that kind of collaboration look like?

AD: Being a service industry can sometimes mean an odd power dynamic between media partners, agencies and brands, and partnerships are not always easy. However, given the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in, coupled with an ever-changing consumer landscape, opportunities to thrive in this crisis will be minimal unless all parties work together. Whether you’re a media owner, agency or brand, you need to accept and acknowledge each other’s strengths and expertise, allowing each party to flourish in their individual specialisms.

One big positive to come from collaboration during this crisis is that it’s a chance to redefine business models and build something stronger, more conducive and resilient for the future.

Read the full ‘Keeping the Lights On’ interview with Anne Dearnaley on

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