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Running With Bulls, Creating Narratives For Brands – Which Is Scarier?

Press Release - South Africa, 27 July 2017

Hellocomputer has appointed Marthinus van Loggerenberg as a senior digital strategist in its Cape Town agency.

Here his main responsibility will be to combine the best audience insights, data, research, technology and distribution capabilities to connect Hellocomputer’s client brands to their audiences.

Or, as he says, ‘solve problems that create narratives for brand stories across multiple platforms’.

In a world where media platforms and channels are increasingly digital, increasingly intertwined and increasingly driven by content, this cannot be a simple task.

Yet Hellocomputer and its sister agencies in the FCB Africa group have built an enviable reputation for delivering purposeful integration from strategy inception stage to final product for brands like Coca Cola, Toyota, Cell C and SA Tourism in the Johannesburg office and on Cape Town soil Wesgro and the Western Cape Government.

Importantly, this complex and ever-changing environment is one in which van Loggerenberg not only excels, he thrives.

The man who wanted to be a storyteller even when he was growing up fell in love with strategy during his years at Musica as the chain’s advertising manager. Today, he’s a brand communication, design, branded entertainment and content specialist with 15 years industry experience plus an MBA under his belt and PhD pending … and a burning desire to create behaviour that strengthens the bedrock of the brand.

“It’s almost a trite question, yet one which is continually asked of Hellocomputer,” he expands. “’What does it take to created award-winning work in today’s digitally driven media environment?’

“Digital or not, I believe the question that should be posed is this: ‘Is this an equity-building, legacy-making idea?

“At Hellocomputer we judge our work against very stringent criteria that assess ideas to work across platforms, something that could create media ecosystems. In other words, the idea must create behaviour that strengthens the bedrock of the brand.

“If I relate this to digital, we strive to create something that people would like to engage with, share and add meaning to by contributing to the conversation and ultimately become brand evangelists.

“This is only possible through meticulous social and media planning to target the right people at the right time with provocative communication that deeply relates to them. Originality, believability, high consideration to craft, brand identity alignment, sincerity and most importantly, work that carries emotional meaning, win awards.

During van Loggerenberg’s 15 years in the industry, he’s witnessed several critical changes that influence how he and his industry colleagues talk to consumers today.

“Faith Popcorn’s predictions all came true. Creative strategy and strategic creative blossomed into undividable symbioses. Design thinking has proven to be at the heart of strategy. Integrated brand communication overtook the reigns from integrated marketing communication. And media convergence is shining the light on outside-in contact strategies more so than inside-out channel or medium first. Brands realised the power of digital,” he says.

“On a personal level, during that time, my biggest learning was to understand the human condition and to fully get to grips with behavioural psychology. My thinking has certainly evolved from a traditional advertising mindset to understand how brands can carry meaning and add value to people’s lives.

“Early on in my career while writing my MBA dissertation on word-of-mouth marketing to emerging middle class women in South Africa, I became to fully appreciate how the future of brand communication and building is in targeting and collaborating with influencers.

“Specifically with reference to my research, marketers ought to understand female dynamic in supporting emerging middle class women to achieve their goals. This includes anything from applying a cultural lens to understanding how influencers and networks operate - and how word of mouth can be utilised to achieve brand credibility.

“More recently, while tackling my PhD dissertation – due to be handed in for final assessment at the end of this month, I focused on content that entertains more so than just informs or educates, for instance.

“Here, my research provided me with the ability to understand the intricacies of brand identity-focused narrative in context of the brand’s overarching narrative and how content narrative could be crafted to build brand equity.

“I hope to impart, learn and grow that knowledge to the benefit of Hellocomputer and my clients. I am also very fortunate to now further learn from some of the industry stalwarts in content creation at Hellocomputer. I built a strategic model to create resonant branded entertainment narrative that I would love to prototype.”

One of the more unusual lines of van Loggerenberg’s CV is that referring to running with the bulls in Spain. It typically raises an eyebrow, and sometimes the question ‘Which is scarier – running with the bulls or working in advertising?.

“It’s an interesting question; one which boils down to just two things – good planning and getting to the end goal. In the case of the bulls: not getting killed and making the arena because they close the doors on you if you lag behind.

“To relate it to ‘working in advertising’ and delivering great work, planning, focus, thinking on your feet, flexibility, tapping into your greatest passion, giving it your all and achieving the set objectives. Most important of all: to do it with heart.

“Running with the bulls was a blast. ‘Working in advertising’ equally so!”