Brand. Entrepreneur.Marketing

Based: Johannesburg

A few souls might remember Gil Oved from the early-90s kids TV show ZapMag. Most people, however, will know him as one of the “dragons” from Dragon’s Den, a reality television programme featuring entrepreneurs pitching their business ideas to venture capitalists.

Oved founded “brand activator” The Creative Counsel with his childhood friend Ran Neu-Ner in 2001.

Brand activation is a form of “‘non-traditional” advertising whereby a brand goes out to, for example, events at schools or sports clubs and creates an experience for a particular community. “We engage people on an emotional level and get into their minds and hearts and, ultimately, their wallets,” says Oved.

“It’s a new wave of marketing that we’d like to believe we’re helping pioneer. It’s no longer good enough to have a great product. You must have great values and standing.”

Learning from failure –

During the height of the late-90s internet bubble Oved founded an online stock broking portal. He was, very briefly, rolling in dough and living the highlife.

“If you were alive and in your early-20s in 1998 all you needed was an idea and you could raise a couple of million,” says Oved. “Ran and I did exactly that. Little did I know he’d still be my business partner after 16 years.”

The boom went bust and Oved and Neu-Ner lost everything.

“We’ve had success with The Creative Counsel for so long now, but I still think about those formative years every day,” says Oved. “We learned a lot about what not to do. But we also learned to keep our finger on the pulse.”

The Creative Counsel’s first significant client, Danone, is, after all these years, still a customer. “When pitching for the Danone account we had no idea how we’d pull it off, yet they were smitten by our passion fuelled optimism.”

It’s a spaceship… It’s a grain silo… No, it’s the Creative Counsel building.

Creative Counsel’s new office building just off the M1 South near Melrose Arch is a spectacular building. You either love it or hate it, but you can’t help feeling something when looking at it.

“We don’t care if people like it or not,” says Oved. “As long as it stirs something in you, we’re happy. We want people to talk about it. We want it to be a landmark. It embodies what our business is about; stimulating emotions.”