Last year, Clemenger Group headhunted ApolloNation’s Troy Fuller and invited him into Colenso’s offices on College Hill to develop the group’s shopper marketing offering. His expertise resulted in quick momentum and now, only a year later, it has officially unveiled Clemenger Shop as the latest addition to the group.
Based alongside Colenso BBDO, Proximity New Zealand and Porter Novelli at 100 College Hill, Clemenger Shop still appears to be part of the Colenso package in the sense that it’s difficult to see where one starts and the other ends.
But sitting down with chief executive Jim Moser and Fuller (who has become general manager of Clemenger Shop), it quickly becomes clear that Clemenger aims to draw a clear line between the offerings.
“We’re a separate agency for all intents and purposes. We are housed within College Hill, much like Porter Novelli, which is also a completely separate agency. We do however share some clients with Colenso, two of which are Samsung and Frucor,” says Fuller.
This sentiment is also backed by Moser, who points out that the relationship between the two agencies will be complementary—a word that is repeated often during the course of the interview.
“The idea is that they are a separate entity, but they’ll tap into the resources of the broader group—and not necessarily just here at Colenso, but also at some of the other agencies,” says the chief executive.
This collaborative approach has already been evidenced in some of the recent work that Colenso and Clemenger Shop did for their shared client, Frucor.
“We recently worked on the V head-to-head campaign. And that showcased how collaboratively we can work with the other agencies,” says Fuller. “Raydar is the existing long-term agency for Frucor, and they did a lot of the in-store work. Colenso is obviously the creative agency, and a lot of the ideation came from them. In terms of the structural side of things, the day-to-day running and how the offer was formatted came from us.”
As evidenced by the agency’s work on this project, Clemenger Shop will specialise in shopper marketing, an area described by Moser as “one of the fastest growing disciplines in the retail arena”. And he says that the new offering will give “clients a comprehensive solution that covers all aspects of marketing communications”.
“We specifically recruited Troy because of his expertise in this field. And it is a very specialised field. It’s not something that you can shingle up in front and say ‘I’m a shopper marketer’. You really do need experience in this field, you need the context and knowledge and understanding of how shoppers operate, and you also need to know about the regulations that apply in-store.”
Fuller is however quick to draw a line between Clemenger Shop and other agencies operating in this field.
“There are a few agencies out there that do shopper activation, which is consumer promotions. We try to go a little further than that and try to understand the shoppers in terms of what they think, say and do. It’s about developing insights on how shoppers behave. And that gives us a base to move into shopper activation,” he says.
“The separation is whereas a lot of agencies talk to consumers, we’re talking to shoppers. Typically a lot of the work we do does end up in the retail space, but we like to think that we can touch on any media channel, from out-of-home to in-home to in-store.”
And this approach seems to be working for the agency, which has already notched up a few client wins, over and above those shared with Colenso.
“We’ve got four quite substantial clients at the moment and that’s only come in a year. And really those first three or four months are just a startup phase, where you’ve got nothing to offer other than yourself, and you really have to ask clients to take a punt on you and what you’re going to do … Now we think we’re in the position to announce that we’re here,” says Fuller.
In addition to Frucor and Samsung, the agency currently has Sanitarium and Campari Australia on the books.
Fuller says that he is particularly pleased with the Campari win, because it came after quite a gruelling pitching process during which he had to go head-to-head with Australian agencies across the ditch. He says that going into the pitch with nothing to lose meant that his team could provide a creative solution that was distinct from those offered by the competitors.
The team’s creative streak when combined with the backing of the Clemenger Group means that the agency is well placed to grow rapidly and eventually become too big to be housed at Clemenger Group—and this wouldn’t be the first time for this to happen at Colenso. Retail specialist .99 also started within the agency, but eventually expanded and moved into its own premises.
So is Clemenger Shop going to turn into another .99 and eventually become strong enough to operate independently?
“We don’t necessarily just want to incubate Clemenger Shop out of Colenso. We want them to work with Raydar, .99, and maybe Clemenger BBDO down in Wellington … It makes a lot of sense having them sit here, because they can tap into the resources very easily in this building as well as the other members of the group,” says Moser.
However, both the chief executive and Fuller welcome comparisons to .99 and express long-term ambitions for Clemenger Shop to be as successful.
“.99 today is over 120 people and it’s formidable as a retail agency,” says Moser. “I wasn’t here at the time, and I give credit to previous Colenso management. They saw an opportunity in the market and latched onto it. And with the backing of the Clemenger Group and Colenso, they were able to make it quite successful. My dream would be, and I would hope, within a couple of years that Clemenger Shop is at such a scale that the team moves out and becomes a completely standalone company within the group.”
And given that the agency already has 10 staff members and that Fuller says he is in the process of recruiting a few more, it seems that the agency is following a similar trajectory.