EXCLUSIVE: Rob Mclennan, Graeme Jenner and King James team up to launch new Jozi agency
by Herman Manson (@marklives) Rob Mclennan, Graeme Jenner and King James Group have teamed up to launch a new full service start-up ad agency in Johannesburg. The new agency will be known as King James II.
Mclennan and Jenner will provide the creative muscle while King James Group will provide financial backing, infrastructure, some early business and a great brand. King James II will officially launch March 2nd (but be in business from March 1st) and a new premises is currently being secured. The new agency is actively seeking a black empowerment partner to manage its business side. The BEE deal will extend to involvement in the larger King James Group.
Alistair King, Group Creative Director at King James Group, says the agency has been looking for a catalyst to relaunch a full service offering in Johannesburg and had always thought the opportunity would come through a piece of business. Instead, it would be Mclennan and Jenner coming into the job market that focussed their attention on building a new agency in that city.
King James has run a Johannesburg client service office for many years but it saw all creative and strategic work originate from Cape Town. According to King it had lost a string of Johannesburg based pitches last year because some clients still see it in geographical terms as a Cape Town agency. King is adamant they are not simply rebuilding the Johannesburg office of King James. King James II launches as a start-up and it is foreseen that the new agency will break the dominant position of the Cape Town agency in the group in the not so distant future.
Both Mclennan and Jenner both recently left Net#work BBDO after that agency lost the Nedbank account to Joe Public. Mclennan says he and Jenner were dipping their toes in the water for advice on the best way to launch an independent agency into the Johannesburg market soon after the Nedbank account loss was announced. They wanted autonomy and purposely did not want to be part of an international agency network. After talking to King in mid-January a deal was swiftly signed and a pitch ready agency will be hitting the ground running March 1.
King believes the King James name and backing will give the start-up the boost to drive early growth but ultimately Mclennan and Jenner will build an agency in their own identity. Charles Matterson, currently in charge of the Johannesburg operations of King James, will join the new King James II management team, and Johannesburg serviced clients of King James will have the option of moving to King James II or staying with King James.
James Barty, Group Managing Director: King James Group, says the new agency will initially tap into King James on an operational level. A team is already being assembled to support Mclennan and Jenner both of whom will be minority equity partners in King James II.
Barty says the launch of King James II is reinvigorating the entire group after a year of flat revenue at the Cape Town agency. The group has been keen to fulfil its potential in the Johannesburg market and believes it is now perfectly positioned to do so. James adds that King James Group is self funding King James II.
Mclennan says the agency will be looking for blue-chip clients early on – between him and Jenner they had worked across various sectors including banking, cars, FMCG etc.
King James II is bound to shake up the Johannesburg agency scene. Coupled with the huge strides made by Joe Public over the past two years, and the rapid rise of M&C Saatchi Abel in that market, the competitive energy that has been infusing Cape Town over the past few years seems finally to be hitting Johannesburg in a big way.
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