There’s nothing Godfrey Morley loves more than watching cabbages grow. And beetroot, spinach, potatoes and brinjals. And about 15 other vegetable varieties he grew on an 80sq m patch in his Johannesburg garden. It’s a far cry from the hurly-burly superficiality of the advertising world – but a welcome escape.
Morley, a bluff, likeable man, recently became MD of Draftfcb Cape Town. It’s his second stint with the agency, after his appointment as Johannesburg MD in 2006 following a chance meeting with Draftfcb’s then CEO Neil van der Weele on a game drive at Thornybush. But barely a year later Morley moved on to the tourism division of Thebe Investments. Money was assumed to be the motive, but Morley insists the more important reason was the opportunity to be involved in the Soccer World Cup.
“It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down,” he says. “It will never occur again in South Africa in my lifetime – and probably not in Africa. It was a wonderful learning experience.”
A Durban BCom, most of Morley’s experience has been on the client side, with Caltex, SA Breweries, McDonald’s and Samsung. Welcomed back into the agency world – “with open arms” – he’ll now be required to put to good use the experience he’s gained in a peripatetic career. He’s enjoying the challenge. “The business challenge is to get growth through increased penetration in a shrinking market. There’s a drift towards non-traditional advertising. With few big accounts on offer, you find yourself competing more with small operations.”
Morley has set himself three main objectives: to stabilise the agency and structure it for growth, to build a robust digital capability and to produce work relevant to black consumers. “I’ve been getting the right people in the right positions and now we need to start chasing revenue growth. There’s an opportunity in Cape Town to position us as the agency that gets it right.”
And, at 44, he says it’s time to stop moving.