TBWA goes yel­low

Finweek English Edition - - Communication & Technology -

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.

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