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From London to Zimbabwe with Shift Engage | #CompanySpotlight

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Founded in the heart of Zimbabwe after the founding partner relocated from London, Shift Engage was born out of circumstances and transformed a temporary move into a life opportunity for a number of talented professionals in Harare.

An independent creative advertising agency specialsed in online and offline media, Shift Engage is a full-service agency focusing on a number of different projects, offering services that range from Retail to Direct, Integrated and beyond.

For this Company Spotlight, we had a chat with Brett Mead, Managing Partner at Shift Engage, to learn more about the story of this incredibly inspiring company – and how triplets helped it come into being.

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How was your company born and where are you based?

Shift ENGAGE was conceived out of a life situation where our founding partner relocated from London to Zimbabwe after having triplets. The move was only meant to be temporary but after 3 months the opportunity was realised and the agency registered.

We’re based in Harare, Zimbabwe and have recently opened an office in Mauritius.

What was the biggest challenge to the growth of your company?

Zimbabwe has been going through a political and economic crisis for the past 2 decades. Not only has this stifled the advertising industry but also meant most of the creative talent, or indeed the up and comers, leave the country in search of greener pastures. Finding the right people has been a challenge, but we have no doubt landed ourselves with the cream of the crop.

Which was the first huge success that you can remember?

After 2 years in operation with a handful of SME clients, we were relatively unknown. We entered the local advertising awards show and walked away with 22 awards (13 Gold) at the end of the evening – although slightly embarrassing, that generated a lot of buzz and interest from prospective clients and top talent from the other agencies.

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What’s the biggest opportunity for you and your company in the next year?

After a shaky start with our Mauritius operation due to Coronavirus, we see huge potential and  opportunity in that market.

Can you explain your team’s creative process?

Respect all views and opinions. Have a voice but listen intently to what others have to say.

How does your team remain inspired and motivated?

In a country where there is still much uncertainty, we have formed incredibly strong bonds with one another. We face all problems (work & personal) head on, and together. The agency is creative lead and is at the core of everything we do.

How has COVID-19 affected your company?

Covid has negatively affected our bottom line but has made the team stronger in the trust we have in one another. Working hours have become more flexible with some now working remotely 90% of the time. 

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Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

Neil Bloemkamp at Oats Studio. From the advertising industry we very much look up to ‘Who Wot Why’ and ‘Uncommon’

What is one tip that you would give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?

Leave the attitude at the door.

What’s your one big hope for the future of the industry?

That independent agencies still exist.

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Do you have any websites, books or resources that you would recommend?

‘The Fear Bubble’ by Ant Middleton, and ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Hariri.

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