Tshegofatso Phetlhe, Creative Director, VMLY&R

Phetlhe is inspired by the intimacy of human connection that the advertising industry requires, both with her audience and her team that she works with. As a black creative, she represents various, often othered, black subcultures in her campaigns to create work that is impactful. “Without that very true human connection, the work is just wallpaper, ” she says.

The Nando’s #rightmyname campaign has been Phetlhe’s most meaningful project to date. The campaign highlighted the red line that appears under names written on platforms like Google and Microsoft, indicating a spelling error.

The idea was conceived when she noticed the red line under her name after signing an email. “It started with a conversation and then it spread into this beautiful campaign, ”. The work she did saw the campaign win in multiple categories in the 2018 Loerie Awards. Phetlhe values social transformation and uses her work to create conversation and change. “It’s a personal fight, ” she says.

As a black woman, she is able to advocate for advertising projects that she knows will represent and resonate with black women. “When people see themselves in the work, it’s probably my favourite moment, ” she explains. She also uses recruitment to empower black women. As a creative director, she has the ability to bolster a team with people who look like her. “I’m putting down the ladder behind me. I’m not going up alone, ”