Born: Johannesburg, South Africa
Worked in: London and South Africa
Re-interpreting Innovation….There is a context to innovation. Often, people in our industry interpret innovation as a new menu item when in fact it could have always been there, but placed differently and re-framed, could be interpreted in a new way. I believe that innovation is about seeing the very same old world with fresh eyes or from a different vantage point.
How would you characterize innovation in your work? Doing this is core to my job. Everyday is an opportunity to challenge by re-framing, re-looking and re-educating myself. Nothing is original. Ideas are born out of a context from strategic objectives and various other stimuli. It’s the constant questioning and probing — what Universal McCann calls “Curiosity” that leads one down the path to innovation.Name an innovative idea or business solution for which you are most proud? Innovative ideas are simple. Like the one time I tried selling a client an idea of advertising a range of infant formula in a selection of men’s magazines as opposed to the tried and trusted selection of parenting and women’s magazines. Nothing earth-shattering, but insightful and disruptive indeed. How many men are self confessed house husbands? How many men take charge of night feeds?
Sometimes piloting an innovative idea is a great way forward. In a market still grappling to understand its main market — the majority black consumer market — as a result of an “apartheid” hang over, I once asked a local and predominantly black-read daily tabloid to risk the cost of an ad to test the level of responses to a call to action. The results flew in the face of prevailing wisdom and cross-tabulated research: This was a tabloid read by an audience who hardly had a bank account to make a bundled post pay mobile phone purchase. But the pilot proved otherwise. It was a simple approach that led to real competitive advantage when it came to achieving new subscriber activations.
What is the biggest challenge to innovation? The biggest challenge in making an innovative idea come to life is selling it. Innovation needs to be sold and packaged. It’s a sales job, especially when working with multinational clients who have rigid global guidelines. Local insights — the sparks behind an idea — always work to substantiate an innovative idea… even one that may seemingly be contrary to globally enforced parameters.
Other Internationalist Background: Nazeer is a board member of The Fifth World Summit on Media for Children, a global movement aimed at improving the quality of media product for children and young people.
He has represented South Africa at various international conferences under the auspices of UNICEF and the National Children’s Rights Committee including the 2nd World Conference on Human Rights (Vienna, 1993), UN/UNIS Conference on International Responsibility (New York, 1994) OAU Conference on Assistance to African Children (Dakar, 1992) and was involved in drawing up the first Children’s Charter of South Africa (1992).
Nazeer had visited 9% of the world.