by Herman Manson (@marklives) Ogilvy & Mather South Africa acquired Gloo Digital Design back in late 2014 and spent the next year meshing Gloo’s Johannesburg office with its own, together with the Jozi office of Ogilvy One. It became a merger of businesses, physical spaces and thinking, and has been deemed so successful by its peers that Ogilvy & Mather South Africa was named the most digitally integrated agency in SA in 2015 in the annual MarkLives Agency Leaders poll.
That physical integration is now coming to Cape Town.
Gloo is moving into the Ogilvy Cape Town building in Woodstock, which is being completely rejigged to accommodate the influx, but also to ensure the integration of teams (Tseliso Rangaka, Cape Town ECD, foresees that all division ECDs will soon be sitting in a shared space).
A core focus for years
According to Ogilvy South Africa chief creative officer, Pete Case, many agencies are only now addressing digital integration into their businesses, whereas it has been a core focus for Ogilvy for a number of years.
“We have created a context where integration happens, moving beyond process so it becomes a protocol within the business,” says Luca Gallarelli, Ogilvy Cape Town managing director.
At Ogilvy Cape Town, interestingly, digital integration is less about technology and more about culture. Pulling a team of specialists, all with strong opinions, together around a table can be a challenging business. Ensuring people don’t avoid the messiness of the process and engage fully is a culture Gallarelli hopes to embed in the business.
Evolution of ECD role
According to Rangaka, the role of an ECD has evolved to take on project management and leadership abilities; today his job requires him to create a common vision for a diverse team. Case agrees, adding that the ECD’s role today is about spotting the opportunities and aligning the team behind these. Multiple creative directors work together in teams; autocracy no longer works, says Rangaka. People are working alongside one another to collectively solve problems and spot opportunities.
Gallarelli drives the point home saying that successful integration relies on the soft stuff — people getting along, interacting, respecting different opinions, wanting to work together and so forth.
The Ogilvy Cape Town’s multilevel offices are connected by staircases in the void between the floors: people are forever walking between the floors, meeting and engaging with one another. Coders bumping into and chatting to storytellers on the stairs and between meetings is what makes change inside an agency.
Positive results already
The physical merger between the Gloo and the Ogilvy Cape Town teams starts in late June, which is when the Gloo@Ogilvy and Ogilvy One offering in the Cape Town office will also be merged.
Real change is not going to be driven by clients. Integrated thinking at an agency doesn’t translate into new or different briefs. So the focus on agency side needs to be upon continuously invigorating client relationships and encouraging clients to engage with the agency in fresh ways, and to come to grips with emerging technology in a non-threatening way. To that point, it has set up a technology lab and which houses the latest gadgets and technology (from augmented reality to 3D printers and even drones) for clients and staffers to explore and engage with.
It’s important for creatives not to slip back into old, comfortable ways of thinking, says Rangaka, and the lab with its technology encourages continued engagement with technology.
In parallel with integration the winning of global work is proof point of the growing quality of work from Ogilvy Cape Town, which was recently appointed as the global creative agency for Mondelēz gum brand, Clorets. Case says the time is coming where the South African ad industry will influence other markets, rather than the other way around.
Lab brings a new stimulus
Gallarelli says the lab brings a new stimulus to the building, creating a space for play but also serving as a point where people from different teams get to meet and interact. The lab allows agency staff and clients to test and interact with technology, so that campaigns are based in practical knowledge, rather than far-off case studies. It also offers perspective on the utility and user experience of emerging technologies.
There has been no rush to integrate the Cape Town agency as there had been in Johannesburg, says Case [Ogilvy Johannesburg was widely considered less integrated than its Cape Town sibling — ed]. Gloo and Ogilvy’s Cape Town business have been working together for some time, and have won successfully won business together.
But the power of putting together Gloo, Neo@Ogilvy and Ogilvy One, as well as mobile marketing agency Strike Media, was too compelling an opportunity to miss. “We are disrupting ourselves,” says Case. He doesn’t need to add “before somebody else does”.
Herman 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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