Indie rising: GSL Promotus trumpets the power of independence

GSL Promotus prides itself on being “fiercely independent”, holding out against buyout bids from the big multinationals because, as they put it, they’d rather make clients a priority and not “some international holding company”. “We make our own decisions and shape the business to totally suit our clients’ needs,” says joint managing director Sigrun Grice. “We’re not answering to a multi-national owner directing us on our structure, operating philosophy or revenue targets – and we don’t have to pay fees to overseas owners for the ‘privilege’ of belonging to their group.”  

Leigh Graham, Sigrun Grice and Jodi Macauley

But as one of the biggest independent agencies in New Zealand – and certainly in Wellington – clients don’t need to sacrifice scale to get the personal touch. With its non-hierarchical structure and two MDs who are, one or the other, involved in every client project – there’s always a high level of expertise on projects. 

That being said, just because the agency isn’t part of a network, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have one. The GSL Promotus network is made up of its 30 associates – or freelancers, as the rest of the industry might label them (GSL Promotus doesn’t) – which allows the agency to quickly upscale and in-source to meet individual project requirements or changing client needs, and to do so cost-efficiently. The associates supplement the company’s 23 Wellington-based in-house staff. “Our network model is part of our operating philosophy,” says Grice. “In fact our whole agency was designed around it.”

The agency, which merged out of the previous GSL Network and Promotus agencies in 2013, is one of those rare birds that is still a true full service agency in an age where full service has mostly disappeared. “Most agencies no longer offer full service. Media, for example, is often outsourced to specialists,” Grice says. “For many of our clients, this is of real significance as they’re under-resourced in their internal marketing. With our full service offering we can seamlessly extend their internal marketing resource.”  

The merger brought together both prior agencies’ public and private sector clients, along with the attendant expertise in both behaviour change and social marketing, as well as brand building and sales. The agency is now on all four panels (strategy, creative, media and design) of the All of Government initiative, allowing it to broaden its government business across a range of sectors. 

Being independently owned means Grice and her partners Leigh Graham (joint MD) and Jodi Macauley (general manager) know what its like to have skin in the game, just like many of their clients. Awards and accolades aren’t the goal, results are. “We don’t just produce advertising, that’s too narrow a definition,” she says. “We work collaboratively with our clients to develop the right strategies and solutions – whether that involves advertising or not.” 

  • For more information on GSL Promotus, contact Sigrun Grice on (04) 802 7701 or Leigh Graham on 04) 384 1940 or visit its website here.
  • This article first appeared in the March/April edition of NZ Marketing. 

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