There can be little doubt that in the world of advertising and brand communications, Ogilvy & Mather is one of the hardhitters. Like the nature of the industry it operates in – constantly changing – Ogilvy & Mather likes to stay ahead of the curve. With its South African roots in Cape Town, starting out as a small hot shop known as Rightford Searle-Tripp & Makin in 1976, it renamed itself to O&M RS-TM in 1984, following the merger with Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. The RS-TM fell away in 1994, and finally became what is known today as Ogilvy & Mather South Africa.
The agency has always been an industry leader and builds on its achievements each year, with no exception in 2014. “We got Ogilvy & Mather’s first Radio Grand Prix globally at Cannes for our Lucozade ‘Give Me Strength’ radio campaign,” confirms Mark Zeller, Ogilvy & Mather South Africa’s marketing and communications manager. In addition, the Johannesburg office was awarded three Bronze Lions for Topsy, DStv and Philips, as well as Silver Lions for Bose and Kimberly-Clark, while the Cape Town office received three Bronze Lions for VW.
The company cemented its place at the top of the pile for effectiveness at this year’s Apex Awards, winning five awards including a silver in the Change category for the KFC ‘Faces of Hope’ campaign, which saw donations amount to R3.7 million (85% above target); a silver for VW’s Polo Vivo work, which was awarded in the Sustain category for doubling the amount of vehicle sales from its nearest competitor; the launch of the Audi A3 Sportback through the ‘#AudiA3Exchange’ social campaign, which was awarded silver in the Launch category for exceeding sales by 23%; the launch of KFC ‘Double Down’, which drove category sales by 50% (33% above target) was awarded a bronze in the Launch category, while an additional Change category bronze was awarded to Cell C’s ‘Wake Up South Africa’ campaign, enabling the brand to achieve in one year what it was unable to do in the last decade. Since 2008, Ogilvy & Mather South Africa has won 34 Apex awards, making it the most highly awarded agency for effectiveness in the country.
Zeller attributes this success to the company’s ‘twin peaks’ approach of combining creativity and effectiveness – which runs through everything the company does. “We understand that it’s not just about creating something beautiful, but also about the bottom line,” he says. “It’s about understanding our client’s business.” As such, the agency’s philosophy is to look at driving good relationships with its clients and improving their bottom line. Many of its current clients have been with the company for the last decade at least, and the agency cherishes client partnerships. In addition, it does work with some of South Africa’s greatest brands, from VW to SAB to MultiChoice, a fact which it believes provides the agency with the grounding to meet its clients’ needs.
This can be particularly difficult in the current operating climate, which Zeller believes continues to fragment. “Clients have significantly cut budgets in the last few years, and although the market has stabilized somewhat, it’s still sensitive, so it’s imperative for us to work even more smartly,” he says. “We are therefore experimenting with digital and data, and are going to focus a lot more on content marketing. While not a new term, practising it has suddenly surged, and there is a greater demand and push towards getting better ROI metrics through the use of it. With paid amplification becoming easier to buy on social platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram, we need to understand content in the mobile space. We have in many ways moved on from SMS, and it has become part of everyone’s lives, so it needs to be pervasive in our strategies and used as a tool with meaning,” he explains.
The agency has invested in mobile, and in early 2013 acquired full-service mobile marketing agency Strike Media to enable them to focus on this area. “We don’t believe that mobile should be considered a separate platform or entity, but should instead, together with digital, be pervasive throughout the company. It is such a powerful force; if you look at the levels of how digital is used, one could say we have in some way skipped the desktop generation and gone straight to mobile, even though our market is still predominantly made up of feature phones,” he says, adding that marketers need to think about it early on and incorporate it into the planning phase of a campaign. To facilitate this, the agency has bulked up on people who focus on digital – 50% of its hires last year were digital specialists.
This drive is facilitated through the agency’s graduate, education and internship programmes, which are increasingly bringing in young talent that can deal with these capabilities. “O&M has always been known as the teaching hospital of advertising, and the Ogilvy Graduate Programme, which launched in 2012, is not just about finding talented students for the company each year, but about a broader reach to foster talent for the whole industry. The students are placed on a rotation around the different divisions for six months and then permanently placed,” he explains.
In addition, Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg partnered with the Ntshulisa Foundation and Vega School of Brand Leadership to create the My Future First programme, which was piloted last year and was incredibly successful with a 90% pass rate. The programme provides students from grassroot backgrounds the opportunity to pursue careers in the creative industry through scholarships. Ogilvy’s role, in addition to financial assistance, is to host the students once a week throughout the year and show them the practical applications of working in an agency environment.
The year-long internship programme offers about 15 graduates on-the-ground experience at the company, and keeps the best and brightest at the end of each year. Building talent is a primary concern for the company to continue its unwavering quality of work. “We have had legends come from within these walls. Chris Garbutt, who was promoted to Chief Creative Officer of O&M East in New York earlier this year, began his career in the Johannesburg office, as did Gerry Human, who is the Chief Creative Officer of O&M London. These talented people have moved on to become influential globally, which is part of O&M’s core motto of building and nurturing talent,” he explains.
Being and producing the best feeds into the company’s philosophy of divine discontent, which means that even when the agency produces its best work, it believes it can do more and do better, he points out. In fact, the agency continually strives for more creativity and effectiveness for its brands and clients, maintaining that creativity and effectiveness are an extremely powerful combination and should not be separate. “We are constantly looking at growth, at boosting consumption of content based on our experiences and what we have learnt in the past few years. We then want to build on this effectively for our clients. The bottom line is about providing them with the best service and creating work that works in order to help them evolve and transform their brands in the modern world of communication,” he concludes.
by Carol Gallarelli – Managing Director of Ogilvy Public Relations
Measuring PR value is one of the hottest topics in the industry right now.
It’s very fashionable to deride ye olde AVE (advertising value equivalent) as an outdated tool and for PR agencies to utilise all kinds of other new age metrics and scorecards to validate their efforts to their clients. These days the industry’s annual PRISM awards criteria specifically demand that entrants go beyond AVE in demonstrating the ROI (return on investment) on campaigns. But how reasonable is that request in the South African context?
To answer that we need to crudely divide the industry’s output between traditional media and the digital/social world. Within the latter, very obviously there’s a whole new horizon of measuring tools.
Digital campaigns can be tracked in all kinds of ways and the social media monitoring space is exploding with BrandsEye, Radian6, Social Bakers, Meltwater and Ornico just a few of the the headline acts pitching for fees to assess an ever more complicated matrix of quantity and quality social metrics (and then there’s the free stuff like Facebook Insights to throw into the mix).
In traditional media, although the once-dominant Newsclip has competition from the integrated offerings of the new social media players, the basic methodology remains constant – collect the print clippings or the broadcast clips and score them against a paid-for rate card. It’s simplistic stuff but it remains the best we have in quant terms.
Thereafter it becomes very subjective as we try to assess the quality of the impact of traditional media reports on brand perceptions. Negative versus positive coverage is easy enough to do, organisations like MediaTenor specialise in this, but going to the next step of analysing whether messaging has landed and perceptions have really shifted is almost impossible without the kind of consistent and robust brand tracking research that very few South African companies can afford.
It’s also fashionable to chuck around the fancy word ‘econometrics’ as a way to assess ROI but how many full service advertising agencies or corporate marketing departments, let alone PR companies, have access both to a trained economist and the kind of significant data which produces an output which warrants that title? In truth, much of what’s being passed off as ‘econometrics’ right across the industry is actually no such thing.
There are several pitfalls in all of this. With the sheer volume of tools and theories available, we could spend more time measuring the output than actually doing the work. We could also devour a disproportionate amount of the client’s budget on paying for multiple measuring products and on the agency hours necessary for analysing and presenting them. We can also waste an immense amount of time quantifying the genuinely unquantifiable like “score your agency’s relationship health with media and other stakeholders”.
At OPR we want measurement but not to the point where the exhaustive process simply clogs up the system in the form of detailed dashboards which no one is reading.
Our view is that;