There’s really no arguing the power women hold as consumers. It’s well known that in recent years women accounted for “85% of all consumer purchases including everything from autos to health care”.1 But what about influencing trends from within ad agencies?
The art of marketing foodservice alone is highly informed by talented women, from high-ranking leaders like our own Partner Valeri Lea to mid-ladder leaders such as The Barbarian Group’s Senior Copywriter Erica Pressly, who has worked on winners like Pepsi Next’s “The Extra Hour” social campaign. That carries through to other areas of marketing as well.
So let’s review the paths that have formed a handful of the women who help shape our industry. As with our list of leaders in tech, we had a difficult time narrowing the field of great options. After a bit of debate, we agreed to focus on four who women who have demonstrated courage, foresight, and leadership for many years.
Ogilvy South Africa Chairman Nunu Ntshingila-Njeke
It’s always easy to cheer for someone who climbed from the bottom of the ladder and reached heights most people merely dream about. Every now and again, it actually happens. In fact, that against all odds narrative is a major part of Nunu Ntshingila-Njeke’s story. Hers is a story of instincts, determination, and education.
Ntshingila-Njeke’s drive is evident in the many degrees she has earned. Her education includes a BA from the University of Swaziland, an MBA from Morgan State University, and a Marketing Diploma from the AAA School of Advertising.2 She has put the insight gained in the classroom to work in the real world throughout her career.
According to the most powerful person at Ogilvy & Mather South Africa herself, Ntshingila-Njeke began her career in advertising looking up from the ground floor: “[I] started really, really at the bottom. My first job as an account executive was actually to read the Omo mail bag letters. All the letters that were coming in, some of them were in Zulu […] So I was given a desk inside somebody’s office to look through all these letters and actually find interesting letters that could be sent to the creative department to be created into advertising. And that’s how I started.”3
Since that first stint combing through the mail bag for ad-worthy consumer testimonies, Ntshingila-Njeke has spent many years with the advertising stalwart, serving as CEO of Ogilvy SA, Director of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, and currently as Ogilvy SA Chairman. She has also played an important role in furthering professional diversity in South Africa, including her time on the country’s Board of the Media Development & Diversity Agency.3
Today, Ntshingila-Njeke is one of the most celebrated women in all of advertising. She has been a finalist for Businesswoman of the Year Award multiple times,3 has been named the Business Personality of the Year,3 and has twice been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the AdFocus Awards.4 Her other accolades are too numerous to list in short blog, but we would be remiss not to call out the accomplishment that has been dearest to Ntshingila-Njeke: earning a spot on the Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide Board.5 Since she was first appointed in 2011, she has been the sole person representing Africa on the 30-member board, which oversees the 450 Ogilvy offices spread among 120 countries. The seat on such a prestigious board is quite an honor—and well-deserved one at that.
Who’s next on our list? Visit the B!eep blog in a week to learn what led Mercedes Erra to found BETC and to become executive president of Havas Worldwide.
- “Marketing to Women Quick Facts.” (2009). Holland, Stephanie. She-conomy website. Retrieved Sept. 2, 2014, from
- “Nunu Ntshingila-Njeke, Ogilvy South Africa CEO.” (June 10, 2014). Bontle Moeng. The BizNis Africa website. Retrieved Sept. 2, 2014, from biznisafrica.co.za/nunu-ntshingila-njeke/.
- “Jenny Crwys Williams’ Tuesday Interview with Nunu Ntshingila.” (May 2012). Jogilvy website. Retrieved Sept. 2, 2014, from jogilvy.co.za/?p=7081.
- “Nunu Ntshingila-Njeke honoured with lifetime accolade at 2012 AdFocus Awards.” (Dec. 3, 2012). Press release on Marketing Update website. Retrieved Sept. 2, 2014, from marketingupdate.co.za/?IDStory=50853.
- “Ogilvy Group’s Nunu Ntshingila: Brand leader.” (July 31, 2013). Hilary Prendini Toffoli. The City Press website. Retrieved Sept. 2, 2014, from citypress.co.za/business/ogilvy-groups-nunu-ntshingila-brand-leader/.