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by Herman Manson (@marklives) Less than a year since Old Friends Young Talent and Bletchley Park announced their merger under the OFyt brand, the new combined agency is emerging from a process of integration, ready to take on new business, according to group strategy director, Jonty Fisher. Along with a physical relocation, it is shifting away from its abbreviated OFyt branding to be known by its full name, Old Friends Young Talent.

The agency has moved from Muizenberg to Gardens in the Cape Town city bowl in a bid to increase its visibility, retain talent and be closer to clients. It is centralising its creative hub there, relocating its Joburg ECD, Greg Burke (a former creative partner for O&M London’s Ford business), and there will now be two creative teams in Cape Town, one under Burke, and the other under current Cape Town ECD, Kelly Putter.

Jonty Fisher
Jonty Fisher, group strategy director

A lot of time strategising

Fisher says the team has spent a lot of time strategising what it wanted the Johannesburg business to look like. The client-service team will be expanded in Johannesburg, and the core offering of the former Bletchley Park, namely BTL, digtal, PR and events, will be rolled out in that market.

Old Friends Young Talent has launched several new partnerships in the last few months, including teaming up with Tanya Oakes-Bertram to launch a new consumer engagement agency, CHOM, which offers a range of services ranging from advocacy programmes and social CRM to online research panels and loyalty programmes. With Brandt Botes, it launched +B, a specialist agency that’s added communication design, experience design, packaging design and brand-identity design to Old Friends Young Talent’s client offering.

OFyt was launched in 2012 by industry veterans Jono Shubitz, a former ECD of Ogilvy Cape Town and chairman of OgilvyOne and Ogilvy Interactive SA; Gary Leih, a former group MD of Ogilvy South Africa and chairman and CEO of Ogilvy Group UK; and Paul Newman, a former marketing director at Nationwide. The merger put in place a a succession plan and new middle-management layer at Old Friends Young Talent.

Getting the culture right

Before the merger, both management teams spent time together to develop a clear view of the ethos of the new agency they wanted to build. Getting the culture right was key, and the partners had to ensure that neither former agency dominated the other culturally in the merged entity. While the new combined management team had a good headline view of what they wanted to do, challenges have come in the form of unexpected curve balls or people management issues, which have required the teams to jettison two ways of doing things and finding common ground.

The ad agency offering has become commoditised, says Fisher, and he is placing Old Friends Young Talent on a course that will move it upstream in the value chain through strategic partnerships. “We have always been an agency that swims a bit further upstream than most, in terms of strategic creative and creative strategy — touching on business strategy in some cases — and we have been exploring opportunities to forge alliances with one of the Big Four [audit firms – ed.] in this space,” he continues.

“There’s both a pass-off opportunity to truly own projects and a creative integration back into their consulting work which offers value to both parties. It’s early days, but it’s going to be a very interesting part of our 2016–2017 story.”

Clients

Since the merger, Old Friends Young Talent has won Regent Insurance, Monkey Shoulder (RGBC), Bidvest Car Rental, Lenthéric (Masculine, Hoity Toity, Solo) and the African School for Excellence. Current clients include the above and KIA Motors SA, RGBC (Jack Daniel’s, Hennessy, Monkey Shoulder), Afrocentric Health (Medscheme, etc), Henry, Taylor & Ries (Old Buck Gin, Commando Brandy), Lindt & Sprüngli, Famous Brands (Fishaways), Nampak, The Crazy Store, Mozilla, Eset SA, and MAD Leadership Foundation. It employs a team of 45 in Cape Town and 12 in Johannesburg.

 

Herman Manson 2105Herman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of MarkLives.com. He was the inaugural Vodacom Social Media Journalist of the Year in 2011 and has, over his 20-year-plus career, contributed to numerous journals and websites in South Africa and abroad, including AdVantage magazine, Men’s Health, Computer World and African Communications.

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Published by Herman Manson

MarkLives.com is edited by Herman Manson. Follow us on Twitter - http://twitter.com/marklives

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