Desired disruption

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

Disruption might sound like the last thing you want in your business, but Muzi Kuzwayo can't get enough of it.

"Disruption is not just about doing something different for the sake of it; it's about defining a vision that will drive growth of a brand," the new chief executive officer of advertising agency TBWA Hunt Lascaris said.

"A genuine vision, fuelled by genuinely disruptive ideas that create a future for a brand that is not possible today. It represents a growth or movement to something bigger," he said.

The agency, one of the giants of the local advertising world, failed to impress at this year's Loerie Awards.

It won just four bronze awards and a craft certificate, compared with one gold, four silvers and four bronze awards last year.

Kuzwayo, who was appointed chief executive in February, puts the disappointing performance down to major changes at the agency last year. "We went through an enormous amount of change in 2007. We have used the year from May 2007 to June 2008 to bed down that change. Our focus for the last year has been on delivering to the needs of our existing clients."

Part of the process was reinforcing the philosophy of disruption. "Disruption has always been a part of the TBWA business philosophy. By its very definition, disruption disturbs the status quo and turns convention on its head.

"Building on the successes achieved through the application of disruption principles, we need to extend and deepen strong disruption strategies that evolve and grow as we do, and apply them rigorously to our clients' businesses as well as our own," Kuzwayo said.

He also promotes a concept he calls media arts.

"Media arts is a philosophy that dissects, re-examines and re-defines the traditional role of media. With new technology comes greater options, altering the way a brand can work in and communicate with the market.

"In the world of media arts, media is anything that exists between the idea and the target audience. While media arts constantly evolves, the principle stays the same - to find new ways to engage meaningfully with an audience that is becoming increasingly cynical."

Asked how the industry should approach the future, Kuzwayo said: "Be braver and irreverent."