March of the Pen­Quins

Ad­ver­tis­ing out­siders have un­con­ven­tional ap­proach

Finweek English Edition - - ADVERTISING & MARKETING -

WELL UN­DER THE RADAR for much of its life, Pen­Quin In­ter­na­tional comes as a sur­prise. Now 10 years old, with a staff of 82 (mak­ing it roughly the coun­try’s 12th biggest mar­ket­ing so­lu­tions group), it now turns over R150m/year. It started life as a be­low-the-line spe­cial­ist but has evolved into a broad-based mar­ket­ing so­lu­tions group of­fer­ing ad­ver­tis­ing, me­dia, ac­ti­va­tion, dig­i­tal, in­house me­dia buy­ing and strat­egy.

“We now have a com­pet­i­tive abovethe-line of­fer­ing we in­te­grate with mar­ket­ing el­e­ments to de­liver so­lu­tions ap­pro­pri­ate to client needs,” says MD Dar­ren Leish­man.

Not be­ing steeped in some­timesquirky agency shib­bo­leths has its dis­ad­van­tages. The Leish­mans have done what many agency ex­ec­u­tives would like to do: bring back me­dia plan­ning and buy­ing into the agency. In 18 months me­dia billing has grown to R60m/year. “We’ve also been able to amor­tise costs by bring­ing me­dia and cre­ative closer to­gether,” Leish­man adds. “That’s the big driver.”

Nei­ther of the found­ing part­ners – Dar­ren, a de­signer, and his brother Grant, an ac­coun­tant – came out of the ad in­dus­try. But when an op­por­tu­nity was pre­sented to Dar­ren, he per­suaded Grant to re­turn from London to South Africa to run the busi­ness.

Says Grant: “My job is to al­low Dar­ren to do his job. You’ve got to have your top peo­ple in front of your clients.”

Suzuki, a core client, pro­vides a telling ex­am­ple of the suc­cess of this strat­egy. In 27 months from start-up, its Grand Vi­tara com­pact SUV sold 10 000 units, the fastest ever launch in SA’s car mar­ket.

“With the ob­jec­tive of mov­ing vol­ume we iden­ti­fied key pil­lars as the 3Ds: Dom­i­nate; Dis­tinc­tive. Dif­fer­en­ti­ate. Me­dia place­ment was very se­lec­tive. If we used TV our strat­egy would be to dom­i­nate that space. We used al­ter­na­tive me­dia, such as Metro buses, which are very much more cost-ef­fec­tive than bill­boards. We took me­dia own­er­ship for 18 months of the Ac­tion Sports arena.

“The tar­get mar­ket was young ad­ven­tur­ous adults and we ap­pealed to them with a core value of ex­cite­ment and fun. The mes­sage was that Suzuki can fa­cil­i­tate your life­style. We’ve been able to sell ve­hi­cles at 25% of the mar­ket­ing cost of our com­peti­tors. Nor­mally, up against es­tab­lished mar­ket lead­ers you have to spend more than the op­po­si­tion. We don’t do cre­ative for its own sake, but to achieve re­sults.”

Many ap­prove.




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