Youth market thought leader. Industry game changer. Risk-taking visionary. Education channel innovator. Liesl Loubser has accumulated these and other flattering descriptors during her along her entrepreneurship journey.
After 18 years building Africas leading youth marketing agency, HDI Youth Marketeers, its CEO (and Fairy Godmother), Liesl Loubser, is retiring at the end of May 2015.
During this time, shes made an incredible impact in so many peoples lives from the ever-expanding, always-inspired HDI team that shes nurtured and empowered to millions of youth across South Africa and Africa.
HDI Youth Marketeers, her brainchild, started life as Hot Dogz Inc. in 1996, and re-branded in 2006. She had a belief, as an ex-teacher that brands and kids could play in the same space and achieve a win-win for all. So she built an agency which now services over 25 blue chip marketing and social entities youth marketing needs. HDI now has offices in Nigeria and Kenya, servicing large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Some of its longest standing clients tenure exceeds 15 years, and include Pick n Pay, Procter & Gamble, Cartoon Network, Nedbank and Lucky Star.
So, Liesls journey has come full circle from corporate to agency hotshot to what is now a significantly sized marketing company: When you leave the corporate world, you need an entrepreneurial spirit, which is one of the key things that leads to success for your business, says Liesl. Taking risks is one of the most crucial steps in the world of business, and I was willing to take that risk because I was, and am, so passionate about young people, she adds. HDI joined the TBWA\Group in late-2013.
Creating change in South Africa means building opportunities. I really wanted to make magic, but I also always wanted to create change in the economy and youths place in it, she says. HDI was the first marketing company which focused solely on under-25 year old consumers. People didnt then, and some still dont, understand the impact and spending power that youth have on brands - they are influencers, but also have their own spend, which in 2015 adds up to R120.3bn a year.
Liesl thinks she has been on the best rollercoaster ride ever for almost two decades now, and says she feels confident that she can move out of the business because HDI has built such a strong leadership and delivery capability over the last five to 10 years. The cumulative youth marketing experience of the management team exceeds 50 years, but there is still constant innovation. I can assure you, you will see a different company in the next five years, she beams. I can best serve the business by taking a step back and giving Jason and the team even more room to bloom. But I will definitely be a part of HDI forever, she adds.
Liesl built a business with deeply-embedded values, and her touch in the form of those values and the HDI culture will run through the businesss veins for many years to come. When I arrived seven years ago, everyone here already knew the importance of clients; the fact that youth are our lifeblood; that our passion is our power and that respect, delivery and the extra mile are non-negotiable, says Jason Levin, HDIs MD.
Through relentless market understanding, impeccable service, deep relationships and measurable results, HDI has managed to retain and grow its enviable client list. The fact that we have retained so many of our clients for over 10 years is one of my proudest achievements, Loubser is happy to say. It is a rare thing to witness in the marketing industry.
Editorial Contact: Gee Motsepe HDI Youth Marketing firstname.lastname@example.org or Jason Levin Jason.Levin@hdiyouth.co.za 011 706 6016
About HDI Youth Marketeers
With 18 years of experience under the belt, HDI Youth Marketeers passionately helps brands make meaningful, measureable and magical differences in the lives and fortunes of the youth. HDI works really hard to connect brands to the youth for the mutual benefit of both. The company has developed specialist ways of connecting with this market in the schools, malls, communities and digital playgrounds of urban and rural South Africa. Since 2009, HDI has been doing the same thing in East and West Africa.