Seven years ago, Richard Haynes Jr threw caution to the wind, stepped away from what many would have considered a cushy job as client services manager with one of the island’s top advertising and marketing agencies, Bowie Cross, and took a very different direction.
“When I told the guys that we were starting this company South Central Entertainment, and we were going to become a dynamic entertainment company . . . that was something else,” he told Bajan Vibes, noting that the journey in itself was not as smooth as some would imagine.
“So, it is so rewarding in 2014 to see a seed that was planted back in 2007 finally come to fruition; and it is the group that made it happen. It could have never happened without their input.
“I’ve gotta tell you, we actually went in the wrong direction for two years –– where we were trying to get funding for the artistes and the deejays. That didn’t work [and] after the first year, plan B was to get my corporate clients to offset the cost for the entertainer until we got funding. That also hit rock bottom and I had to pull up the handbrake and say, ‘Look, how this thing works?” Haynes said, suggesting that this was somewhat of a watershed moment for South Central.
It was then that he changed his thinking and developed the concept that has got the company this far –– the idea of each artiste seeing himself or herself not just at an entertainer, but as a marketing tool.
“What we decided was to go back in the marketing direction and encourage all of our artistes and deejays to be multitalented. So if I got a marketing contract, then my artistes would eat because they are going to write the jingle; the producers are going to eat because they are going to produce the jingle. The voice-over guys, the radio deejays eat because they are actually going to be the voice-over on the commercials –– and the client benefits.
“So really, by force, by not getting support, by not getting funding, and then everything being compounded by the recession, we created this concept where we have to survive, and where we have to survive within our own skills,” Haynes noted.
It’s a massive feat for a company that started with one broadcaster and two deejays. It has experienced rapid success, growing from three talents to the current arsenal of 20 handpicked artistes, broadcasters and deejays.
“ . . . Our team today seems like 500, because everybody is into many different things. There is Simply Smooth, Infamous, K9, Rupee, Gorg, Smokey Burke, Verseewild, Hollabak, Bobo, to name a few. You have Salt, who runs the advertising department at SLAM 101.1 FM (he is an announcer, show producer, an artist and writer, and deejay), and Bubbles, a DJ, voice-over specialist, a major producer and a radio announcer . . . .
“The concept is to try to exploit people’s talents, so that we could eat off ourselves, rather than be relying on handouts –– and it’s working. Our marketing clients have grown from two to 18, and the fellas are now able to produce big things.”
Interestingly enough, Haynes lamented that the “entertainment industry in Barbados” was misunderstood.
“There are a few that appreciate and understand entertainment. As an industry, there really is not that overall understanding; and, even worse, outside of the industry, very few people understand the potential of entertainment as it relates to, for example, tourism, which is our real bread and butter.
“We have a long way to go,” Haynes suggested.