Wayne Naidoo has taken the helm of the new Duke Group. A merger between Duke Advertising, digital media outfit Mark 1 Media and public relations company, Positive Dialogue, was announced on Tuesday.
It is the “only sizeable South African communication group born of the digital era, with the skill-set required to engage with tomorrow’s consumer”, said Naidoo.
“We see ourselves as being the ideal partner for businesses and brands facing the tumult of change, whether they’re dominant players facing uncertain futures or challenger brands seeking to rewrite the market rules. We’re independent, owner-managed, and quick to move and to respond,” he added.
While each group has its own management structure, an exco team will guide the newly formed entity. They are Nino Naidoo, Duke’s head of operations, Steve Miller, its strategic director, executive creative director Mike Beukes, managing director of Mark 1 Media, Daan du Toit and commercial director, Joe Steyn-Begley, as well as Positive Dialogue’s Tracy Jones.
“We will shortly announce the appointment of a coterie of seasoned non-executive directors who will provide strengthened strategic mentorship to this executive group,” said Naidoo.
With such a strong group of owner/managers in charge, the question arises on how they will align the different, driving visions of each company.
“Simply put, each of our businesses was founded on a principle of being solution agnostic – we have always put the client at the centre of the conversation and looked for the best solutions that we could deliver to the brands under our custodianship, devoid of ego or vested interest,” Naidoo explained.
He reckoned that by sharing this founding philosophy, the group could “harness the energy and talent from the three specialist agencies to deliver business success and results – in whatever meaningful way that looks like to the client”.
It’s not as if they haven’t worked together before with shared clients as the glue to the relationship, albeit as collaborators rather than partners. Naidoo said their “collaborative vision” had already become completely aligned” while the “quality of solutions for our clients has improved, and our operational efficiencies are being realised”.
With the “culture fit” sorted, the main challenge, said Naidoo, was to introduce the offering to existing clients while explaining the benefits (seamless offerings and synergies between the three agencies) to potential clients.
In their view, each company has proven to be “adaptable in the face of rapid change”.
“We know that with change comes uncertainty and ambiguity, that familiar patterns disappear, accepted practices are no longer appropriate, and that traditional behaviours don’t deliver as they did. The future to some may seem daunting and scary,” Naidoo said.
But equally, it’s exciting, fresh, and malleable. “Now more than ever with this union of talent we can imagine a flourishing future for our clients, and actively spend our energy and passion making that positive vision a reality.
The merger has resulted in a “formidable force” of 70 people “rich with specialist skills and the scale and capacity to service any size client with a full array of communication solutions”.
The group has a footprint in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
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