CYBERTORIAL*: Creativity, innovating thinking and adaptability have seen independent marketing agency Ebony+Ivory achieve consistent success in over 47 years of working with some of South Africa’s best-known brands – and those traits are set to carry the agency into the future, as well.
Any agency hoping to thrive in the current climate, where budgets are shrinking as requirements expand, needs to be flexible, nimble and agile – characteristics woven into the E+I DNA to such an extent that even the layout of the agency’s offices in Parktown North encourages collaboration and inspires focus.
E+I managing director, Paul Middleton, says the key to delivering effective ROI is the ability to draw on expertise from unexpected areas, to help shape in-depth research into target markets, requirements, strategy and understanding channels. “That allows us to meet objectives and exceed expectations, often coming in under budget,” he says.
The Ebony+Ivory team is, like most successful teams, strong, experienced, varied and blessed with the ability to multi-task. “We work hard to find people with a blend of skills that allow them to offer insights, outside of the role outlined on their business card,” says Middleton. “All our people are strong collaborators with a fierce dislike of silo’ed thinking, committed to working smart, fast and – above all – delivering”.
A track record of recognising opportunities where others see only obstacles – and having the ability and courage to capitalise on them – has served the agency well for nearly five decades. Looking, as always, to the future, E+I have turned their attentions to adding value, not only for their clients, but the South African creative industry as well. The agency has announced that they’re taking another industry-leading step by piloting a hybrid empowerment model that provides business-critical support to previously-disadvantaged independents, with the E+I Empowerment Trust.
The E+I Empowerment Trust will fast track business growth for independent creative professionals who intimately understand, speak and translate South African diversity, through communication.
“Embedded in our agency structure and with a commitment of 25% of agency shares to the initiative, the E+I Empowerment Trust will fund the provision of administrative and mentorship resources to qualifying creative professionals across the agency spectrum,” says Middleton. “Our creative business campus in the heart of Parktown North will also give these creative, marketing and media business owners a safe, resourced space from which to seed new business growth”.
The realities of life in South Africa demand that our creative industry develops attention-grabbing and effective solutions to not only sales and marketing, but to complex socio-economic problems, too. Middleton says that to be able to do so powerfully and successfully, the industry needs to fast-track new talent into its ranks faster than ever before.
“Redressing the imbalances of our country’s past is only one step – our industry has yet to properly seize the remarkable opportunity to draw on a huge pool of talent with incredible insights who, even in 2016, have limited opportunities to shine,” he says.
At E+I, we believe that this ‘bottom-up’ approach to agency transformation has the power to prise open more depth and breadth in the industry skills base. “It is by no means the easy route to bring about the much-needed industry change, but it harbours significant developmental power as the incoming industry talent pool grows in tandem with these small businesses,” says Middleton.
The E+I Empowerment Trust is open to designers, copywriters; production managers; public relations professionals; digital/social media specialists; media strategists/planners; audio visual/film making communities; and account/project management professionals. Those interested in being part of the South African creative revolution can share their vision for their creative vision with the E+I team via firstname.lastname@example.org
Ebony+Ivory is an independent integrated advertising agency with a 47-year track record. It is a hub that offers a seamless service in brand and communication strategy, customer lifecycle management, media strategy and buying, creative conceptualisation and campaign implementation, events and activations, digital and social media engagement, desktop publishing (DTP), research and production management. E+I has an accredited in-house media planning and buying heritage, together with passion for design and delivering beyond brief, ahead of time and on budget. Its clients include Brand South Africa, Creamer Media, De Beers, Huawei, Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), John Craig, LATAM Airlines, Pentair International, and Profmed.
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