Rebuilding business trust in ad land

Date posted: July 9, 2012


by Herman Manson (@marklives) Arctic Circle, the maverick Cape Town agency run by Reghard Goussard, positions itself as a navigator in the changing economic and social contract brands are facing.

This under the radar agency famously featured in an AdVantage magazine profile in which “I almost lost all my 19/20 clients” became “I lost 19 of my 20 clients.” Goussard jokes that he is “good but not that good.” In any case the agency continues to reinvent itself, transforming from a
Reghard Goussard

design to an advertising and then a brand agency. Today it’s a business solution focussed agency with creative and production as value adds, says Goussard.

Goussard says even within the industry he is positioned as a business man rather than an ad guy, focussing on the business procedures of building a brand, and employing multi-skilled individuals with backgrounds in business rather than traditional agency people. Goussard says the role of his agency has evolved to a point where it is getting paid to source and translate market intelligence rather than just create ads.

He also believes in an approach which focuses on taking business objectives and translating it into a marketing function – something that allows him greater latitude when approaching company CEOs with proposals. Goussard says he can’t remember the last time he’s met anybody who has bought a product just because they’ve seen an ad,  that design has become a commodity, and that his focus on business transformation is how his agency retains relevance.

Arctic Circle offers a 360° brand solution through close collaboration with sector specialists – including Native in the digital arena.

New clients are challenged to focus  thinking on what its key stakeholder, the community in which it operates, require, and how it engages with them. The agency then spends two weeks gathering intelligence on the brand and competitor brands, coming up with strategic insights which they then workshop with the client, where they also identify the kind of budget required to meet their business objectives.

Goussard feels that the communication environment is changing so rapidly that few clients have managed to keep pace, and on the whole, they are struggling to come up with briefs relevant to this new environment, or budgets that can solve their problems. Arctic Circle helps them translate their requirements through the research it undertakes into briefs and budgets. Solutions need to be business minded and consumer focussed, says Goussard.

Arctic Circle employs 26 people, with revenue hovering around R10 million over the past three years, a number Goussard expects to jump to R25 million in the next financial year, if his plans for the agency comes to fruition.

Goussard believes in taking a longer view, both in terms of his own business and those of his clients, but believes the results are worth it.

Its current client list includes the CTICC and Anglo Platinum amongst others. Arctic Circle recently gained some social media traction for a campaign for Expo18, a golfing expo held at the Coca-Cola dome in Johannesburg, in which a young guy came out to his rugby mad farther as ‘a golfer.’ It also created the ‘What is good money?‘ campaign for Futuregrowth.

Goussard says the ad industry have lost its credibility and that the recent Cell C pitching fiasco showed how little respect it really has in corporate circles. His aim is to build an agency business owners can trust again by delivering on business objectives rather than just advertising as much of the industry still practices.

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