by Herman Manson (@marklives) A little over two years ago, Saratoga Software, a subsidiary of JSE-listed Sekunjalo Investments Limited, acquired a majority shareholding in digital agency, World Wide Creative (WWC). The agency had intentionally sought a buyer that wasn’t part of an agency network (or an ad agency, for that matter).

World Wide Creative logoHaving a technology firm as its shareholder positions it away from that highly competitive and densely traded market.

Tripled in revenue

Since the acquisition, WWC has tripled in revenue (and grown billings to well over R50m) and grown its staff to 50 people (Sekunjalo Investments Limited has also been renamed African Equity Empowerment Investments Limited).

Fred Roed
Fred Roed

The agency keeps lean, says CEO Fred Roed, partnering with specialists and smaller agencies when required. It is built around four business units:

  1. strategy (spanning everything from market research to implementation)
  2. development (mobile, apps, websites etc)
  3. campaigns (SEO, search, social media), and
  4. education (digital training and change management programmes, consulting)

Its five-largest retainer clients include iStore, which it won last year; The Foschini Group; Hyundai; Independent Media; and SA Gold Coin. It also boasts a large stable of medium-sized clients.

Company-wide rebrand

For Independent Media, the agency recently managed a company-wide rebrand, including a new identity. It’s in the process of rolling out new sites for the publisher and is assisting with a new brand strategy for the online portal, IOL.

Selassie Eghan-Kpanga, WWC’s business director for Africa, is driving sales in Nigeria and Ghana. The agency currently serves a telecom client, Surfline Telecoms, in Ghana and has also been appointed by a second West African telecoms operator, but details remain under wraps for now.

New Independment Media branding
New Independment Media branding.

According to Roed, the agency will soon be taking its platform for practical learning on digital marketing, the Heavy Chef, to Nigeria and Ghana. The intention is to bolster its investment in relationships in those markets.

The agency is taking a gradual approach to expanding into new markets — focusing upon quality work with a few clients to prove themselves. Roed says the agency’s broader African ambitions and approach come out of an intentional strategic rethink of its positioning.

Key growth areas

An analysis of digital agencies and competitors showed four key growth areas, namely tech, creative, consulting and social. WWC’s strengths lies in it technology capabilities, as well as a strong consulting business.

It therefore decided to focus on its own key strengths — tech and consulting — to grow the business (also into the rest of the continent). It also upped its creative credentials through the appointment of Sammy-Jane Every as creative director in late 2014.

The Saratoga deal, says Roed, has brought a number of benefits to WWC, including a strong sense of organisational structure, systems and administration. By 2020, it wants to be positioned as a leading digital consulting firm focused upon Africa, and it will look beyond marketing to solving business challenges for clients.

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