In The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein observes, “In racing, they say that your car goes where your eyes go. The driver who cannot tear his eyes away from the wall as he spins out of control will meet that wall; the driver who looks down the track as he feels his tyres break free will regain control
of his vehicle.”

Face First founder and managing director Stevan Wilken similarly reflects on his journey over the last decade in taking the company from the humble dirt roads of the Midlands onto the busy freeways of KwaZulu-Natal.

As young boy growing up in the Midlands, he tested the limits of his own abilities and the patience of those around him. “I was always an adventurer at heart, yet grounded in the simplicity of small-town life that somehow kindled the desire to venture beyond. Growing up in a happy family also taught me the immensity of teams, a good sense of direction and a keen eye to choose my best line through a bend,” he says.

The family man and enthusiastic rallycross driver turned entrepreneur is about to become one of the 10 largest out-of-home media owners in South Africa. And as if this wasn’t enough to manage, he has set his eyes on the Dakar Rally 2022/23 season to lead a proudly South African team in the ultimate feat of endurance, tenacity and pride.

“I like to lead from the front, set the pace and keep my eyes firmly on the road ahead,” Wilken explains. This approach to life and business mastered on muddied rally tracks has spearheaded Face First Media’s rise to prominence – especially in KwaZuluNatal and more recently in Gauteng and Cape Town. Face First Media has
developed an extensive inventory that now comprises over 180 premium and strategically located advertising sites, the largest billboard holding in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Once you have enrolled yourself in the race, you need a clear route map, an adept support team and a great navigator to allow you to push your driving skills to the limit, confidently handle the off-road conditions and bravely attempt the fast pull-offs and power slides,” Wilken continues. “It is this understanding I have carried through in my business. I make sure I always surround myself with an impeccable team to enable me to push ahead, trust my instincts and steer my car where my eyes go.”

Engaging Wilken on his route map for Face First Media, a picture comes into view of a provocateur who set his sights on disrupting the long standing of certain companies over KwaZulu-Natal’s metropolitan highways and arterial networks. “Over time my game plan took shape around this clear route map, and my execution meant keeping my eyes on the unfolding road and where I needed to make tactical adjustments to navigate slippery conditions, without changing course or blinking my eyes.”

He and his team are part of a leading group of media owners now pioneering digital out-of-home (DOOH) in South Africa. Face First Media has introduced a trio of LED Digital Super Signs on all incoming highways into Durban, the only company currently able to offer full digital coverage on the N3, N2 and M4.

Looking ahead, Wilken says, “We will reimagine new ways companies can benefit from DOOH, while I continue along my own art of racing in the rain.”