M&C Saatchi Abel revenue jumps 80%
by Herman Manson (@marklives) M&C Saatchi Abel, the agency launched by Mike Abel and a senior team just over three and a half years ago, is expected to hit R100 million in annual revenue (not billings) by the end of this year. Group revenue grew by 80% between July 2012 – June 2013 and the agency now employs 170 members of staff across the organisation – up from 125 just over a 13 months ago.
MD Jason Harrison attributes as much as 72% of the revenue growth between July 2012 – June 2013 to organic growth, saying clients such as Brandhouse, Takealot and MWeb have been handing larger chunks of their budget to the agency. Both Edcon and Nedbank have been entrusting more strategic work to the group, adds Harrison. New business included Virgin Active (which it won in a pitch against Landor Associates), Yardley and Shimansky.
The Africa agency, launched last year with Rick de Kock at the helm, is off to a somewhat slower start, Harrison admits, saying this is possibly because clients have been burned in the past by new entrants, and because it takes time to build proper relationships. It has won two significant beer brands, Gulder and Mutzig, from Heineken International.
M&C Saatchi Abel remains on the lookout for affiliates in several countries but sets the bar high, making its expansion slower by nature of this approach. That said, it already operates in the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Senegal and Ghana. East Africa remains on the radar, as does Nigeria, although a lot of business in the Nigerian market seems to be handled via Ghana these days, explains Harrison.
The media business, Connect, run by Martin MacGregor, is doing great work and seeing really positive client feedback, but selling a new way of connecting with consumers, as opposed to just selling yourself as a media buyer, has been challenging, says Harrison. But the business is receiving a positive response from existing clients and the group continues to believe in its philosophy of focusing on the various consumer touch points to brands as opposed to just paid-for media.
The Sport & Entertainment agency (M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment) faces a noticeable challenge: big pitches are few and far between as sponsorship contracts are often locked down for a number of years, says Harrison. This is a small market but one that makes sense if you already work on brands such as Nedbank, Edcon and Virgin Active.
M&C Saatchi Mobile South Africa, lost its MD, Zeyad Davids, in early 2013 (he is now CMO at Virgin Active). The media part of the business seems the most successful, but most of that is run out of London, according to Harrison. SA clients include Kingprice Insurance, You Insure, Just Play and Landbou (the Media24 magazine).
Harrison says a personal highlight was making a shortlist that saw M&C Saatchi Abel listed alongside a host of specialist digital agencies for a digital account. It was the only integrated agency on the list.
In terms of the international M&C Saatchi network, the South African office sits sixth in terms of revenue (which is reported in Pounds Sterling – so it’s pretty impressive) out of 25 offices. Last year it won the internal award for the best work produced in the network – for its social media campaign for Dementia SA – as judged by the creative heads from all the offices in the network.