Chats Expanded: Winslow Schalkwyk

Interview by: Tshego ‘Red’ Mosiane

Winslow Schalkwyk is a content and strategy leader with just under 20 years experience, having spent a portion of that time in the fashion industry as a fashion writer, model and photographer. He now uses his skills to create bespoke digital content for his clients as a leading Digital Marketer.

We invited Winslow to expand on the topic discussed in episode 2 of our talk show ‘Chats’ – the problem with South African branding, PR, marketing and advertising agencies.

 

REconnecteD: What do you think the biggest problem within agencies that leads to the sub par content consumers see?

Winslow: The content that agencies produce, in this country,  are of a high quality. But what you are referring to is when there is no clear creative direction or the targeted demographic has not been researched properly. The power, right now, lays in the hands of consumers – who are bombarded with content all the time via social media and digital marketing. It does help to have someone on your creative team who understands social media and content trends and who is willing to say “no” when the strategy or content direction does not speak to the proper audience.

RE: Why do agencies rotate the same faces/talent when hiring? 

WS: As someone who has a background in fashion and, particularly, the modeling industry let me say this; most modeling agencies only have a handful of black models on their books and that is why we always see the same faces. So these models can grow their portfolios and become the first choice for campaigns. This is where the advent of influencer marketing has become so important. Brands can now align themselves with new and fresh faces.

 

RE: How have you seen agencies go about deciding on payments for black creatives vs white creatives?

WS: I feel that this is a very sensitive question: how you conduct your business will determine the outcomes. Let me add this, when you present yourself in a professional way and demand respect upfront then all the other aspects ought to fall into place. Also, we do not think before we tweet. When a prospective business associate or client looks at our social media they automatically have an impression of you. And, sometimes, this impression is what leads them to disrespecting you. I know this sounds trivial but your reputation will precede you. Have you negotiated your payment schedule upfront? Do you have an air-tight contract or agreement before you start working? Allow me to be honest – because I have experienced it – we need to present a professional and unfuckwithable front when conducting business, especially as black people. We are all praying for this tide to change. It is a double standard that black creatives have to work twice as hard and deliver a higher quality of work to be considered above our white counterparts.

RE: In terms of fashion marketing specifically, where do you believe agencies are going wrong?

WS: Firstly, do you have an understanding of fashion? Do you know your fashion history and references? I have just under 20 years experience in fashion – from all sides – and this is what helps me in coming up with content, treatments and creative directions. Secondly, does the person working on fashion brands actually have a point of view or aesthetic? So many people want to work in fashion – and be fashion – but they don’t have the eye for detail that it requires.

RE: What do you think is the main thing agencies can and should do in order for them to create better content for brands?

WS: Take risks. Look to international trends but find ways to build on them and add your personal flavour or point of view. Push the envelope but in a tasteful way.

RE: What do you advise young creatives who are trying to get hired by agencies do to get these gigs?

WS: Build your portfolio. Diversify – make sure that you have various points of view that will appeal to different people. Research – know the rules of your industry. Start your own company. Find like-minded individuals and build together.

Watch episode 2 of Chats here:

Or listen: