South Africa’s unique and relatively volatile history – fuelled by friction between groups, people and belief systems – has resulted in many of us becoming naturally gifted story-tellers, after all, conflict is the essence of any good story. However, not everyone chooses to make a career out of it let alone use it to become a successful entrepreneur servicing companies over 16,000km away.
This adventurous approach is that of Jonathan Sidego, a young South African creative and advertising professional, who chose to quit his nine-to-five job so that he could keep up with international demand for his story-telling abilities and skill to imagine and create award-winning advertisements.
Over the last 18 months, Sidego has become a start-up in his own right, working for US-based clients (primarily in Silicon Valley) from his home in Cape Town.
He says, “South Africa’s well-known creatives have given the world a great impression of our level of skill and standards as well as our ambition to complete globally, yet many locals are held back by a lack of confidence.”
“We tend to believe that we – as South Africans – don’t deserve a seat at the global creative table but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Thanks to technology like the internet, it is becoming easier to ‘think globally’ while ‘acting locally’ – online, nobody knows that you are South African and where you work from simply doesn’t matter.”
“Confidence is vital and comes from creating work and putting it out into the world. I haven’t always been confident but I have done a lot of work and I’ve won some awards along the way so I feel like I may be onto something,” he explains.
In terms of story-telling through advertisements for the tech and start-up industries, Sidego notes that young companies find themselves in a position of needing to both educate the public and gain their trust.
“No one knows about these brands yet, so it is important to understand that this form of story-telling isn’t just a matter of plot, but rather of evoking emotions and feelings for a company by including points of interaction, conveying high production-value and expressing the value proposition of the product or service – all while giving justice to the creative work of the company and its founders.”
“Start-ups can, should and do pursue new channels to reach an audience and utilise popular mediums like video in various ways – whether it be through 30-second television or YouTube commercials, 15-second Instagram advertisements or 5-minute crowdfunding videos,” says Sidego.
Currently in the US for a number of client meetings, Sidego has experienced success overwhelmingly quickly as word of mouth references have resulting in unbelievable demand for his unique abilities and creative edge.
He says, “The film-making industry in America is large and very competitive so businesses really look for ‘something different’.”
“While start-ups are often focused on getting a product or service off the ground and don’t yet have expertise in design, brand and marketing, they tend to look for someone who can take care of all of this for them and really appreciate working with a multidisciplinary team. I have worked closely with other young South Africans who have experience in the start-up world – meaning they can also successfully take on various roles – and who understand the international market. Joining forces with Bernard Myburgh and Natasha-Jade Chandler who have expertise in post-production, budgets, press and finance has made us stand out as a unique, full-service offering.”
“This is what I think gives South Africans an even greater edge – we enjoy tackling tasks holistically,” Sidego concludes.