South African ad economy gets $200m boost

The advertising economy in South Africa is set to receive a massive $200m boost this year as brands such as Nike plough millions into targeting World Cup fans.

Nike, which is not an official sponsor of the World Cup, has just unveiled a campaign on Africa’s largest digital advertising screen on a 30-storey building in Johannesburg, which displays messages sent by fans via Facebook and Twitter (#NikeFuture) that will appear alongside digital images of football stars signed to the brand.

All messages, which appear on a digital screen 44m by 42m, are pre-vetted by Nike to make sure the content is acceptable. Anton Ferdinand, brother of injured England captain Rio Ferdinand, was one of the first to post a message, alongside an image of Wayne Rooney, saying “believe to achieve”.

Two other sides of the building, the fourth highest in Johannesburg, feature 90m tall images of Portugal player Cristiano Ronaldo and Brazil’s Robinho, which combined are big enough to cover an area the size of an entire football pitch. Fans can send a message to any one of 50 Nike-sponsored athletes with 100 chosen each night to appear.

During the recession last year South Africa’s economy managed just 0,4% of year-on-year growth, according to Group M, WPP’s combined media buying operation. The fast-growing advertising economy had enjoyed double-digit year-on-year growth since 2001 before the downturn hit.

The arrival of the World Cup has seen Group M more than double its original growth forecast for 2010, of about 3%, to 6,8%. South Africa is now forecast to bring in about $221-million more in advertising this year than in 2009.

“Despite the World Cup being one of the most predictable events for media growth, we were pleased to double our ad growth forecast to 7% this year, driven by TV,” said Group M director Adam Smith. “This is an unusually TV-dominated ad economy, which creates lots of leverage around sporting events.”

Television advertising in South Africa is expected to be up a very healthy 10% year on year to about $2-billion. Internet advertising will be up 20% year on year, albeit from a tiny base, to $19-million. – guardian.co.uk

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