#AgencyFocus: Banyana Banyana & a boatload of awards
by Carey Finn (@carey_finn) Though still relatively young, Joburg-based communications agency Levergy hasn’t wasted any time in securing major clients, achieving transformation goals and rolling out work that has garnered recognition (and lots of it). The six-year-old business has positioned itself as a significant player in the local sports and entertainment industry, expanding its offerings, client list and ambitions since its inception in 2012.
According to Clint Paterson, co-founder and CEO, Levergy has had “an incredible couple of years”, with 2017 bringing strong growth and a slew of accolades, as well as a major structural shakeup when M&C Saatchi PLC acquired a majority stake in the agency last November. He reports organic growth of over 50% and points to this, its multiple award nominations and wins, and that the agency has “never lost a retainer client”, as proof of its success in the field. Levergy had nine victories at the 2017 Discovery Sports Industry Awards, including the title of Agency of the Year (losing that one to T+W last month), and also hauled home seven trophies at the 2017 New Generation Awards (the agency has been nominated for six this year), plus two Bookmarks (and one this year, too).
While 2018, so far, hasn’t filled up the agency’s trophy cabinet to the same extent, it has seen other successes, most notably the addition earlier this year of major new clients, Sasol and Energade, to a stable that includes Audi, SuperSport, DStv and New Balance, and the announcement of its achievement of Level 1 BBBEE certification in July.
Transformation has always been a focus, says Paterson, and obtaining Level 1 BBBEE status is something the agency is very proud of. “It’s been a long process,” he says. “The key thing for us was getting the right equity partner in. We worked closely with the M&C Saatchi Group on that.” This turned out to be a trust, as part of the group, which currently holds 26% ownership. Struan Campbell, Levergy co-founder and director, confirms that M&C Saatchi PLC remains the majority shareholder at 51%, with the M&C Saatchi Africa Group and a senior group of shareholders in the Levergy business holding the rest. The agency reports directly to London-based M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment as one of its six global offices.
Going forward, Levergy will be looking at ways to incorporate its staff into the ownership structure, says Paterson. Other aspects in the agency’s transformation strategy have been procurement, upskilling and training of newcomers to the industry (he reports a lack of training centres that cover the kind of work Levergy does), and pro bono work with the likes of the JAG Foundation, as well as through existing clients Audi and New Balance. He says that none of the agency’s efforts have been about “checking boxes”, but are geared towards, “without sounding cheesy”, making the BBBEE strategy “work for the business and economy as a whole”.
Empowerment — of women specifically — is not just something that the agency has focused on in terms of BBBEE; Paterson and Campbell say they are passionate about driving greater support for women’s sport. As part of Levergy’s sponsorship work for Sasol, notably the #Limitless campaign spearheaded by Banyana Banyana, the agency, says Campbell, is trying to elevate the status of women’s sport on home soil. “Our goals are quite simple in this space: we want higher participation figures,” he says. “We’re trying to get girls wanting to participate, and trying to get the country as a whole behind the women’s team.”
Paterson says that the agency’s broader aim is to get women’s sport in general “commercially up to speed”, in line with what he sees as global trends in terms of increasing sponsorship, fans and money in the game in order to grow it. He says that the Levergy crew is excited to have the opportunity to “start doing some great work” with the South African national netball team as part of their sponsorship mandate for Energade. “We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s a good start,” he says.
When it comes to other goals, the agency is ultimately gunning for the title of leading sports and entertainment agency in Africa, says Campbell. Securing that, he says, will require picking up a few more major clients, and further upskilling the agency’s divisions. While Levergy has become known primarily as a sponsorship agency, it offers various other services. “We do very different things for different clients,” he says.
“We’ve grown our business offering over the years to be diverse in what we can offer. From consulting and strategy to PR, digital and social, to on-the-ground experiential, we do all that stuff. And now we’re not a sponsorship agency; we’re a communications agency that specialises in sports and entertainment. Sponsorship agencies generally take orders from ATL agencies, and have not traditionally been driving creative and campaigns; I think we’ve turned that on its head.”
|levergy.co.za • Ramify
Updated on 17 and 18 September 2018.
Carey Finn (@carey_finn) is a writer and editor with a decade and a half of industry experience, having covered everything from ethical sushi in Japan to the technicalities of roofing, agriculture, medical stuff and more. She’s also taught English and journalism, and dabbled in various other communications ventures along the way, including risk reporting. As a contributing writer to MarkLives.com, her new column “#AgencyFocus” is an ongoing weekly series updating the market on agency performance, including business performance, innovation, initiatives, the work, awards and people.
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