Rob Diering from CBR Marketing Solutions wears his three hats – Client Service Director, Strategic Director and Creative Director – with pride. He joined the up-and-coming digital agency over two years ago after ten years in big agencies and says, “This is the hardest I’ve ever worked – and I’ve enjoyed it the most.”
With his extensive experience in digital marketing, he is impressed with what is being achieved at CBR. “I believe we’re operating at a phenomenal level, even compared to global agencies.”
Diering finished high school at St Andrews College in Grahamstown in 2000 and then a B.Com at the University of Cape Town, followed by a postgraduate diploma in Management in the field of Public and Development Management at Wits Business School. It was here that he did his internship at Standard Bank and his passion for marketing flourished.
“I joined a small, hands-on firm as the Digital Account Manager in their new digital department. I worked closely with the partner, Steve Liversedge and gained amazing digital experience and skills across a range of digital disciplines. After four years, I joined Ogilvy as digital specialist, moving up over the years to Group Account Director. It was exceptionally valuable experience and I loved every minute. I gained lots of skills relevant to the market and my knowledge of branding was dramatically enhanced – they continue to honour David Ogilvy and his iconic lessons about brands.”
Diering then moved on from Ogilvy to Havas Worldwide, as Head of Digital. He says this too was a platform for great learning and he particularly got to explore more of his creative side.
It was then that he “found CBR”, a small privately-owned business in contrast to the massive multinational agencies he had called home for some years. He identifies CBR as a ‘bretail’ agency. “We’re not your typical creative agency – we’re a hardworking bretail agency. We embrace three core skillsets, brand, retail and digital, which I believe is unique.” He is deeply impressed by the foresight displayed by the owners of the business – and their ongoing investment in sister businesses, which has resulted in CBR building up other entrepreneurs in the digital space as they go. He is also wholly committed to the CBR philosophy that always puts clients first. “I’m passionate about stepping outside of the business mindset and into the consumers’ shoes.”
Diering’s advice for companies wanting to make an impact in the digital space is to truly engage with their agency as partner. “In my 13 years of experience I’ve had the privilege of dealing with an array of clients. If they treat the agency as a mere service provider, they don’t move forward. Preferably, it’s an attitude of “Our doors are open, we’re ready and willing to work together” – that brings about change. We choose not to just accept briefs but to rewrite them with our clients, engaging and building special relationships with them, based on trust. We make sure we understand the business and then put the right mix together – work that works! We’ve found that industry leaders are those who don’t disinvest in marketing.”
Diering is inspired by courage – by people who are willing to step off the well-trodden path, people who don’t accept the impossible, people like Nelson Mandela. He relates this to digital marketing: “More often than not a digital campaign involves development and there is sometimes a conflict between big creative ideas and the process-driven side of development. I have tremendous respect for the developers who rather than saying “it can’t be done”, say “I will work out a solution”. If you look at award-winning campaigns, such as those seen at the Cannes advertising awards, invariably someone said ‘yes it can be done’, when it hadn’t been done before.”
Diering is 34 and is married with two sons – both under three years old – and is a huge fan of motorsport, automobiles in general, rugby and travelling, which is on the top of his bucket list.
For more information on CBR, go to www.cbrmarketing.co.za.