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11am, Friday 22nd January 2021

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HIDDEN TREASURES: What is it Like Doing Business in Developing Countries?

  • Should your agency be exploring the ‘bleeding edge’ emerging markets?
  • We speak to an agency leader who sees opportunity in serving overlooked territories
  • This session will get you thinking about whether it’s time to expand your horizons beyond the UK, USA and Europe.

“Sometimes we go to work sitting in the back of a pick-up truck next to a goat. It beats the hell out of going to work in the same place, in the same manner, every single day.”

This is just one of many reasons Jasmine Montgomery believes in expanding your horizons and working in developing countries.

Her agency Seven helps brands reach Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and translates their message, rather than simply dumping Western campaigns in places with very different cultural values.

While many agencies work in these areas, her agency goes to the parts no one else would – but it’s not without its challenges.

She recalls the time the agency set up an office in South Sudan: “We would do photoshoots and our team would be arrested; a goat ate the set; civil war broke out several times – we had to evacuate our offices to Nairobi twice.”

Sometimes, getting money OUT of the country can be tricky.

“In another part of the world you might look to buy property – but somewhere like South Sudan isn’t where you’re going to have your beach house just yet,” she says.

So Jasmine even hatched a plan for her directors to buy Landrovers and DRIVE their money out.

Working multi-nationally is important, but Jasmine works beyond BRIC to focus instead on ‘bleeding edge’ emerging markets that aren’t on most people’s radars.

A lot of these clients wind up working with local teams – but that doesn’t cut it.

“More and more, [these] clients need world class branding,” she says.

This might well be an established company looking to localise, expecting world class creatives wherever they operate. On the other hand, they may be local companies looking to export in need of a higher level of branding to compete in their own domestic market.

“For these sorts of businesses, what we offer is a hybrid. They get London-calibre thinking, but they also get local implementation and insight from our local teams,” Jasmine explains. “Our London team is the head of the octopus, and we focus entirely on giving our expertise to emerging markets.”

How does Jasmine deal with corruption?

“A lot of people told us we’d have to do business the way business is done here,” she says. “[But] we had a commitment from the beginning not to pay bribes for work. As a result, we don’t have a lot of work in certain countries.”

Despite this, Jasmine believes working in these developing areas can be both fun and fulfilling.

“I like looking at branding and marketing through the lens of culture,” she says. “For example, when working with Coca Cola, their brand is about happiness. But what does happiness mean in Africa? To me, that’s the joy of the project.”

We’ll be chatting to Jasmine in more detail about the hidden opportunities to uncover in these developing markets, how to win work fairly in the midst of corruption, and the more interesting ways to get money out of countries.