Independently owned advertising agency, Joe Public South Africa has just launched its first international office as part of its global expansion plan.
Based on the same revolutionary platform with which Joe Public South Africa launched in the local market back in 1998, Joe Public Take-Away Advertising opened its doors in Amsterdam, the Creative Capital of Europe on January 2 this year.
Says Gareth Leck, CEO of Joe Public: “The expansion is a realisation of our core company purpose, Growth. Joe Public exists to grow our client’s brands, our people and ultimately our country. It’s the era of technology and company’s who are turning a blind eye to playing the business game on the global field are also turning a blind eye to exponential growth opportunities.”
Leck and Marais, who purchased their company back from international network DraftFCB in February 2009, believe that international networks are stunting the growth of the people within their agencies.
Says Marais: “There are tremendous deficiencies in the current global advertising agency model, and it is time to introduce a fresh, new and more effective model that will eradicate these deficiencies. Many of the global holding companies today are large, cumbersome, top-heavy groups whose focus is totally skewed toward financial ratios and financial performance, rather than ideas, creativity, and a deep caring for their employees. They have lost sight of their reason-for-being. These companies have become more like financial institutions than advertising agencies.”
A Model That Values Creativity and People Above All
For these reasons, the partners at Joe Public South Africa identified the opportunity to develop a new model, which is the antithesis of the global holding company model - one that truly promotes creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation and genuinely values people and talent.
To develop a highly creative and motivated global union of advertising agencies, partner and strategic planning director, Laurent Marty believes the core focus cannot be purely financial. Instead the union needs to value their people and creativity above all else. It needs to be 100% focused on growing its client’s business, rather than growing the financial ratios for a parent company. To achieve this, the local team that runs the local agency should own the local agency, 100%. 100% ownership is the only way to create real sustainability. And 100% ownership is the only way for exponential growth as a group.
Explains Marais: “Making money is not the purpose of business. Money is a by-product of the true purpose of one’s business. And the purpose of our business is Growth. In order to grow our brand, we have chosen to create a global network that turns the current model on its head. And just like any creative idea, it will be the purity of this idea that will drive exponential growth for the Joe Public brand.”
Marty describes Joe Public United as an anti-franchise franchise. An organisation that opposes all franchise thinking and rules. “We are a global union of selected, independent, Joe Public-branded member agencies that subscribe to the Joe Public United Charter. Joe Public United is run by a General Council, with an annual rotating leadership. All Joe Public United agencies are represented on the General Council and group thought and leadership is shared through an open source system. Each local agency contributes an annual fee towards developing the global union and growing the Joe Public United brand. The ultimate aim is to create a strong global brand, enabling the group to compete on global pitches that, in the end, will have a massive net result for the locally owned agencies.”
The partners believe that by structuring their group in this way, entrepreneurship - the key ingredient needed in producing powerful, break-through creative ideas and innovation - will be kept alive.
Joe Public Take-Away, Amsterdam
A point in hand is Joe Public United’s first agency in Amsterdam, which has already caused quite a stir in its local market within its first month.
Under the leadership of creative partners, Antoine Houtsma and Bart Oostindie and Strategic Planning Partner, Jeroen Van Eck, the new Take-Away agency managed to win OHRA, the second largest direct insurance company in the Netherlands, and the Bazaar, the biggest indoor market in Europe, since opening its doors.
Over and above this, their Lucky Strike television commercial for Hotel Zuidertuin has just been nominated as one of the top 6 ads in the world by Best Ads on TV. The newcomer agency will also be producing its first commercial for OHRA in South Africa during February, directed by Greg Grey from Velocity. The advertisement will be produced through the local Joe Public’s production department, offering the European client even more cost efficiency.
Houtsma, Oostindie and Van Eck are a highly respected team, responsible for Dutch advertising classics on the OHRA and Amstel accounts. They have a strong award winning track record, including 7 Cannes Lions, and more than 35 local awards, that include the ADCN, the Effies (equivalent to our local APEX Awards), the Advertiser Awards and the Esprix. Houtsma has also judged at the Cannes Advertising Festival twice.
Oostindie and Houtsma worked together at leading Dutch agencies Etcetera/DDB and Doom & Dickson, where they were creative partners for six years and successfully worked together with Van Eck.
Van Eck worked at Unilever for 10 years where he was named client of the year with Unilever peanut butter brand, Calvé, prior to moving over to the advertising agency side. This same brand was awarded twice with the prestigious Gouden Loeki for most popular tv-commercial of the year. As an advertising strategist at Doom & Dickson, Van Eck was responsible for numerous winning Effie cases.
Says Antoine Houtsma, Creative Director and senior partner of Joe Public Amsterdam: “Our goal is not to be just another successful advertising agency. Our ambition is to make a lasting impression in the advertising world. That’s why we are extremely excited about joining Joe Public on this mission of growing our own group of like-minded agencies. Joe Public was conceived by highly awarded people whose abilities and ego’s were big enough to start their own agency, but small enough not to put their own names or initials on the building. We are cut from the same cloth.”
Real Gwoth Comes Trough Real Ownership
Leck concludes: "Joe Public United is a very important and exciting step in the Joe Public journey. We are very fortunate to have joined forces with such a passionate and talented team who share our way of thinking. Our partnership is based on true ownership and collaboration, as we believe it is the only way to create the caliber of creative ideas that will drive the growth of our clients going forward.”
Since Leck and Marais bought back Joe Public South Africa from IPG three years ago, the agency has tripled its revenue and been named Finalist Agency of the Year three times by the Financial Mail. It has also consistently featured at the top of South African creative awards tables.
Joe Public United has implemented a strategy to establish another three member agencies in selected key global markets over the next four years that will service and grow global and regional clients, through collaborative, breakthrough creativity and innovation.