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Don’t discount Durban when it comes to South Africa’s digital landscape


Durban is renowned for its beaches, surfers and sharks. Durban is also an up-and-coming digital and media force that could soon give the big players a run for their money.

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Home to some serious contenders in the web and app development space in South Africa, including SA Web Design as well as a range of new and existing digital marketing advertising agencies such as Paton Tupper, and big businesses such as Unilever and Mr Price, Durban is becoming an interesting hub for digital marketing and media creatives.

Cath Jenkin, a freelance “Durban-proud” copywriter, media consultant and columnist, attests to Durban’s digital and media clout. “Just a short look around my address book will tell you that Durban’s digital media work actually serves a far bigger audience than just the town itself. Events like Durban Digital Day bring the East Coast’s digital media world to life, and spotlight it in a way that is so necessary. If Durban were such a “sleepy hollow” as is often alleged (usually by people who’ve never even visited), then many of us who do work in online realms would probably be selling surfboards at the beach.”

The digital and media powerhouses

Barry Tuck, the “guy who does stuff” (according to his LinkedIn profile) at Paton Tupper Digital, is very proud of what Durban has to offer in the digital landscape. He is quick to give his competitors and other leading digital, media and marketing agencies their due. His full-service digital agency prides itself on delivering world-class solutions to some of South Africa’s leading brands, including web platforms, app development and building social media communities.

Tuck conceptualised and launched the Stork I Love Baking SA social campaign at Gorilla Creative Media, a Durban agency he co-founded five years ago. It’s now run by Dorin Bambus, who focuses on conceptualisation, content creation and management as well as brand strategy. This Stork margarine campaign was extremely successful and reached a record high of 350 893 Facebook followers. Gorilla was nominated for a Bookmarks award for this great initiative in the “Brand/Company Identity Mobile sites” category and subsequently won a Bronze bookmark.

Durban is also home to Unilever, one of the largest FMCG companies in South Africa, who are involved in some exciting online initiatives with brands including Stork, Knorr, Shield and Dove.
The first Mr Price store was opened in an old Bakers Biscuit warehouse in Durban in 1985. Its founders, Laurie Chiappini and Stewart Cohen, had a vision of creating factory shops that stocked fashionable clothing at reasonable prices. It is now one of the fastest-growing retailers in South Africa and is engaged in the business of retail distribution through 937 stores in Southern Africa and 24 franchised stores in Africa. Their hugely successful strategy involves engaging customers via online communication channels and a well-executed ecommerce presence.

Quirk, one of South Africa’s leading digital marketing agencies, recently “set up shop” in Durban, spearheaded by Group Strategy Director Nic Ray, who has spent the last few years as MD at Quirk London. Nic is excited about the enormous growth opportunities in Durban, and “plans to offer digital marketing solutions and consultancy to Durban-based brands that seek to engage with connected audiences.”

As Cath Jenkin says, “The ‘D’ in Durban stands for ‘Digital’ and we’re all proving it, every day.”

Image: Simisa (via Wikimedia Commons).

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