TBWA goes yellow
ANDY RICE’S Yellowwood Future Architects, the prize capture in the marketing strategy field, has been acquired by TBWA South Africa in a move that could pay off handsomely for both parties. TBWA Worldwide’s consultancy capabilities are strengthened while Yellowwood gains access to global growth opportunities within the worldwide network – starting, almost immediately, on projects in France and the Middle East.
“Our job,” says Yellowwood CEO Kay Nash, “is to build a worldwide consulting facility. Our business model will go into the rest of the world while we remain completely independent and autonomous.”
France is an appropriate place to start, since that’s where worldwide CEO Jean-Marie Dru designed TBWA’s disruption methodology. The system eventually morphed into the Disruption Consultancy, which now has offices in five countries, including SA.
Originally hailed as a breakthrough concept that almost defined TBWA, disruption failed to capture the network’s imagination until its office in SA showed how effective it could be in generating breakthrough ideas. But even so, it’s managed to expand to only a five-country spread – not an indicator of real success.
Its SA office will become part of Yellowwood and disruption will be treated as one of a range of tools.
The move adds more muscle to TBWA’s local group (with Hunt Lascaris at the core), which has slipped off its pedestal as one of this country’s iconic agency brands over the past two years.
Rice, now chairman, launched Yellowwood, SA’s first independent brand consultancy, in 1997, developing systems and methodologies based on a core ethos of “unconventional wisdom”. In 2004 it merged with Nash’s Future Architects.
Including the flow-through from TBWA, Yellowwood’s black empowerment shareholding now stands at 35%, with group MD Ivan Moroke’s stake being the most prominent. But the five-strong top team is emphatic the deal isn’t an exit strategy. The terms of the deal are that the team remains in place. TBWA has a majority share, though the actual percentage held isn’t disclosed.