On Tuesday Strategy Design and Advertising announced it would be merging with fellow Christchurch agency Simpatico Advertising. We chat to Strategy Group managing partner Geoff Cranko about the decision, and how the integration between the agencies is working out so far.
So, why the merge?
"You always know who your competitors are and quickly you learn who shares the same values with you and it all happened very, very quickly to be honest. There was a natural synergy between our clients and there were no competing clients or competing positions, if you like, in terms of our teams. The [combined] creative team blends really well, the media team does too, as does the client services people. It all comes back to those core values and that focus on doing great work for our clients."
How does this change affect the Christchurch advertising market?
"The Christchurch market has shifted over the years since the earthquake. And you have some big agencies and lots of little ones, and we wanted to make sure that we maintained enough breadth of skill, specialist skill, rather than having our clients go to four different companies to find that range of skills."
What makes your agencies a good fit?
"You’re only as good as your last campaign or your last piece of work. And I think it would be fair to say that Strategy has a reputation of doing great creative work, probably quite design-centric initially and then taking it into advertising whereas Simpatico has a lot more of that advertising understanding, of what consumers think … so while we both offered design and advertising services it’s playing to those strengths. So we’ve got some really good creative resources now."
How is everyone settling into the office so far?
"We have been together in the same office in the past four days. You can see the synergy starting to develop, it’s one of those words that gets bandied around to make it fit but in our reality it is actually working. Everyone has got their own little place and we have a couple of part timers and they have their desks. One of the biggest issues is the merger of technology, the Mac vs. Microsoft. Everybody has their favoured style and so we are following a sort of technology for the job at hand. Ask me again in six months’ time."
It’s pretty tough out there, do you think other agencies might need to follow suit eventually?
"That’s a good question. On the one hand it depends a lot on the clients. We want to be world-class in what we do and so to do that you do have to have specialists but to provide a good solution you need to be quite holistic in your thinking. You need the good business understanding the good creative and the good design and digital elements and the ability to buy media really well. And sometimes you can buy all of those from individuals and small companies but having a slightly more holistic approach does add value … What I don’t think you can be is a generalist. If you want to do great work you have to have specific skills working together really well under a common brief …"
How many people are working in the office?
"Twenty-four. We can’t get any bigger. Because I’ve been there, done that in other industries and what I have found as a general rule, there was an inverse linear relationship depending on the market to numbers for people and quality of creative performance per person, revenues per person, that sort of thing … there is a critical mass that you need to be effective in the strategy of planning and buying media, so there are some sort of baseline numbers that you need. But as a general rule, if you get too big the things that kick in are how much buying power you’ve got to push around or synergies of accounting services as opposed to the quality of creative."
What has the feedback been like from clients so far?
"Only positive so far. We haven’t had any negative responses, let’s put it that way. We haven’t managed to get around and talk to all of our clients and expose the mix of skills and people to all of our clients, that will take some time as we go forward. But we have had some very nice comments come back to us. I think all businesses should be client-focused and have a base-level of professional standard and we want to do great work and deliver great results to our clients."