In spite of some turbulence, post Great Recession it turns out that 2010 wasn’t such a bad year for Cape Town’s adland after all. While big account moves in Cape Town were rather limited, agencies are taking the initiative to reinvent their internal processes, in some cases shedding staff and departments, while looking for work coming out of Johannesburg or internationally.
King James has had an absolute stonker of a year as Alistair King, Group creative director at King James Group, puts it. “It has probably been our most successful year to date.” King James boasts a number of major account wins for 2010 including Santam, Parmalat and Johnnie Walker Africa. King James grew its head count from 55 to 64 while the larger group grew from 107 to 122.
“All of our companies grew this last year, and we believe our integrated approach, which we have built our company around since we opened in ‘98, has been a huge factor this past year,” says King. “Our work is much more integrated in style, and our clients seem to be demanding more of that kind of communication, probably because they see it as more cost effective. We see clients integrating PR and formal advertising more closely, and looking for earned media to be greater than budget spent. We have been doing this pretty effectively on Kulula in particular.”
Draftfcb Cape Town also grew its head count from 115 to 131 and took on board a new managing director in Godfrey Morley. Revenue for the year increased by 15.7% on a tough 2009 thanks to RCS (ATL) and Engen joining its client roster. The agency merged its abovethe- line and below-the-line creative departments to form ‘one multi-disciplinary studio with through-theline capabilities.’ It also collapsed internal structures by grouping client service, strategy, media and experiential teams into two client business units defined by client type.
Ogilvy Cape Town also reported revenue and profit growth. According to MD, Gavin Levinsohn, the group successfully launched Neo@Ogilvy, their online media planning and buying business department, as well as Record Edit Create (R.E.C) – an in-house video production and editing business and Ogilvy Earth – a new sustainability consultancy. Ogilvy Interactive grew with VW and Audi’s increasingly digital focus. The Ogilvy Digital Marketing Academy (ODMA), a formal sixweek programme aimed at up-skilling staff in the world of Web 2.0 and run by digital specialist Dave Duarte, saw success with 60 staffers graduating in 2010 and another 60 graduating in 2011.
The Bester Burke Slingers Group also launched two new agency divisions. Two Dry Sticks, a digital strategy consultancy and DONA, a full-service agency specialising in vernacular advertising and strategic solutions, include English vernacular.
The Jupiter Drawing Room showed 12% growth year-onyear with a little help from the 2010 World Cup and increased its head count to 146 from 132. MD Claire Cobbledick took control of the business in November from Kevan Aspoas (now serving as CEO) and has reorganised the agency into four full-service teams with specialist experts (in social media, promotions etc.) moving between them.
Even prior to the economic shake out agencies have been under pressure to reinvent their business models. They are emerging leaner and more focused, says Andrew Brand, MD of ninety9cents, with renewed focus on understanding digital channels, clients meanwhile continue to expect more effort, more accountability and more results. “But I don’t believe the increased pressure will be detrimental to the industry,” says Brand. “I actually believe we will all emerge better off with an increased awareness of what’s really important – doing great work that works harder for clients.”
Y&R Cape Town MD, Alan Schreiber, says Cape Town’s agencies are finding work in Johannesburg or internationally to make up for a limited client base within the provincial boundaries. Schreiber expects that this year clients will continue to put pressure on agencies to reduce agency staff numbers and to work smarter.
Cape Town’s increasing international creative cred is also cited by Wayne Naidoo, CEO of Lowe Bull, who says the city is still perceived as a creative hub for networks with many international agencies outsourcing some of their toughest briefs into their Cape Town agencies. The agency recently won a global Skip project from the Unilever stable.
The story first appeared in the June 2011 edition of AdVantage Magazine.