Manuela Dias de Deus is the founder of One-eyed Jack, an award-winning agency that specialises in marketing campaigns that culminate in a live event.
Determined to make her own way in the business world, Manuela moved to Cape Town in 2011, where she established her agency One-eyed Jack and has never looked back. Fast forward to 2021 and she now works with some of the world’s biggest brands and has seen the company’s turnover increase exponentially, even during the pandemic, thanks to their innovation, content creation and loyal clients.
Now known as THE entertainment marketing agency for South Africa, they’ve scooped significant awards for PR, media relations, sponsorship, influencer relations, event creation and reputation management; predominantly for lifestyle brands.
Doing what they can to aid South Africa’s struggling live events industry during Covid, the agency also gives back pro-bono and directed the communications for the industry’s #LightSARed movement, SAFE – South African Fund 4 Entertainment, Africa Rising’s Robben Island Event, #WatchOurStreams and #ItTakesACrew.
Manuela is also the Marketing Communications Chair on the board of the Entrepreneurs Organization and has served as a judge for the Loeries (Africa & Middle East).
Q&A with Manuela Dias de Deus
Tell us a bit about yourself and what your job entails on a daily basis.
I’m incredibly driven and work hard, but I absolutely love what I do and surround myself with great people so that every day is a joy. Our aim is to only take on projects that we have a good feeling for and work with clients that we can go out and have a drink.
Whilst One-eyed Jack is a full-service communications agency, we also have a live events side to the business, which I lead. It’s this area that fuels my passion and sparks new ideas for innovative campaigns. I also head up a new business, so, in short, I procure new business and conceptualise exciting events, which I then hand over to my team to execute.
How did your journey in the industry begin?
I graduated in PR but during my first job I realised that corporate brands weren’t really my thing, and that lifestyle and entertainment brands were. When I moved to the UK, I focused on getting a job in entertainment marketing, which resulted in me hobnobbing with bands and at industry events that I’d never dreamed I’d have access to. I remember looking around me at the MOJO Music Awards; I had James Brown on my right, Sting on my left and the Red Hot Chili Peppers right in front of me, it really was the stuff that career dreams were made of.
When I came back to SA, I wanted to do the same here, but for myself. A good friend of mine highlighted a niche for me to assume, my sister helped design my CI and another friend named my business, and there you have it. A need, an idea, collaboration, and relationships, and that’s how One-eyed Jack was born.
What are some of your career highlights?
Recent: During the lockdown, we produced a digital content series called Vuse Inspired Live, for which we curated an incredible line-up of local talent in music, art, fashion and travel. It was fantastic being on set with such talented individuals, some of whom were up-and-coming, and some of whom were iconic. The whole experience was super inspiring.
Recent years: Creating VIVOnaton, T-Cross City and #GTI8onTour for Volkswagen. Doing the marketing, PR and sponsorship management for Bastille, the Lumineers, Rocking the Daisies and Rage. You can’t beat being on a field, in the sun with 15,000 singing fans.
Back in the day: Doing film location management for Bridget Jones 2 and getting pulled into a couple of scenes with Renée Zellweger and Hugh Grant. It was definitely a career highlight.
What projects are you currently working on?
We’re just about to launch the 10th Annual Comics’ Choice Awards which takes place next year and I am super excited about it. We’re producing a series of very cool summer activations for British American Tobacco’s vaping brand Vuse, we’re booking speakers for the City of Cape Town and are profiling a great marketing agency in Johannesburg called Penquin. We’re also doing the PR for Rage Festival and are sourcing sponsors for Rocking the Daisies 2022, so are super excited to be back in the live events scene again.
What do you think FAME Week Africa can offer the Pan-African Market?
Visibility: It’s a fantastic platform to showcase our continent’s inspiring content and to demonstrate that we’re up there with a superb global offering.
Access: Opportunities to meet and network with like-minded professionals, who can assist in opening along the way.
Connections: People work with people that they like, and with the opportunity to engage via the FAME events, who knows who will be collaborating with who in the years to come.
What do you think the future of the creative industries look like for Africa?
One of our continent’s strengths is the rich creativity that comes out of it. Whether born from inspiration and talent, or whether discovered as a way out of poverty, we have a wealth of exceptionally talented people and the world is taking notice. With the rise of digital and with initiatives like FAME Week Africa, our work is showcased internationally, which is fuelling the future of the creative industry in Africa.
What is the best piece of advice you can offer someone wanting to get into the industry?
Know your shit, stick with what you’re good at, but evolve into new areas within that realm as you grow, it’ll help futureproof you and your business. And be nice to people. So much of our agency’s work comes from people we met when they were juniors, who are now CEOs and MDs and come to us to produce their campaigns.
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