Gerhard Sagat is the Head of Strategy at the internationally acclaimed advertising agency DDB SA. In his spare time he volunteers as the chairman of SSA’s marketing committee. Gerhard was the main driver of the recent billboard and video awareness campaign “Learn by Doing” that was done pro bono for the Scouts by DDB SA. So what motivated him to take this on and to inspire his network to get involved?
“SCOUTS SA is a movement that I believe in.” says Gerhard with a smile. “As such, I’m always looking for ways to help promote the movement and to grow their influence. I’m also fortunate enough to be in an amazing agency in which many people believe in giving back – so rallying up support is always possible.” And rallying up support he did! “I had a conversation with Liam Wielopolski, Chief Creative Officer at DDB about trying to find a way to boost the top of mind awareness levels for Scouts SA. He passed on the message to his creative teams and the billboard project was created.”
The Scout method means letting children and youth learn by doing. The DDB creative team saw the significance of this methodology and used it as the concept of the awareness campaign. “Many years ago, Benjamin Franklin once said “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” These are words that I hold true, as my son and I are the kind of people that learn best when involved in something – which always made sitting in a school classroom a bit challenging for us. The Scout’s philosophy of “Learn by Doing” is the manifestation of this quote and in my opinion best demonstrates the essence and value that the movement can offer children and adults alike.”
The campaign comprises of a billboard placed in the child friendly PWC Park in Sandton which is visible from the road. What do you hope the campaign achieves? “I think that the biggest challenges SCOUTS South Africa faces currently is that of “top of mind” awareness and relevance. Everybody has heard of the Scouts but it’s not the first name that comes to mind when you think of children’s activities or extra murals. In order for us to grow the movement, we need to ensure that Scouts comes to mind first. Secondly, I think that people have misconceptions about Scouts and think that it may not be relevant in today’s world – which is the furthest thing from the truth. What I hope the billboard does is help address both of those challenges with a single project – raising awareness levels of Scouts as well as demonstrating its relevance to SA,” he explains.
When we ask Gerhard whether Scouting is really relevant in our modern day society his answer comes quick and clear, “I think the role and impact of Scouts is even more essential and critical today than what it was before. Society and the way of life has changed significantly over the past few years and decades. Kids these days are fixated with the digital world and all things digital. And while that has an important place and role, as it is the way we interact with our world and define our future, there is a lack of the hands-on, practical skills that built up our world to the place it is today. More importantly, the digital era has caused people to become far more transactional with their relationships and desensitised to the hardships and realities of others. I think that Scouting helps to keep kids grounded and instills the kind of values and social skills that we always read about, but that are missing and yearned for.”
Gerhard’s son recently got involved in Scouting. So how much fun are they having together through Scouting? My son is involved in Scouting in Randburg and absolutely loves his meetings and looks forward to them every day. He loves learning all these fun, practical skills and I enjoy being there with him and helping him do the tasks – its great father-son time too. My biggest hope for them with Scouts is that they just stay grounded. I think that the world has become quite superficial and that values and ethics are now regarded as negotiable inconveniences. Scouts has stood the test of time and they truly live their values in every meeting. I’m hoping that Scouts gives my kids solid grounding so that they’re able and prepared to face the challenges in their life and the future, as they grow older.”
So, does Gerhard possess certain skills that he himself learnt by doing as a child which he still uses today? I’m quite a practical guy and enjoy getting my hands dirty. I can remember being a kid and helping my dad with DIY around the house over the weekends, working in the garden, building things, etc. In truth, my father could build anything and even to this day I still ask him for help with certain projects. But these are skills that I’ve learnt over the years and I still use today. What’s more, I’m passing these skills onto my son and daughter too – who view the DIY tasks around the house as some great bonding time.”
We are very grateful to the DDB SA team for helping us with the great campaign. Can you tell us as little more about DDB SA and its commitment to community upliftment? “DDB SA is a creative advertising agency with approximately 100 staff. We’re part of the global Omnicom group and are currently ranked 5th in terms of creativity and 2nd in terms of effectiveness. We’re fortunate enough to feature every year on the awards stages both locally and internationally. We’ve got some great client and have made some fantastic work – everything ranging from the FNB Steve campaign, to the Telkom babies and Usain Bolt ad, to an array of McDonalds ads, Honda commercials, Huawei – and a lot more. The other NPO that we work with is the South African National Blood Services, as it is an organisation that we believe can really make a different to the lives of others and the country. While we have shareholders to keep satisfied, we also like to feel that we’re able to make a difference in the world every now and then – so we can leave this world a better place, as per Lord Baden Powell’s suggestion.”