Here We Grow Great

Posted: December 4, 2015

Pepe Marais, Chief Creative Officer Joe Public United, looks at what it takes to really grow and positions some challenging ideas in an honest, retrospective look at the industry in the year that was and the year that wasn’t.

The most enriching life is the one where you know exactly where you come from (a greater purpose), having clarity on where you are heading (a true North Star), and then setting off on your epic journey. Growth happens when you veer off this course, have the consciousness to recognise it and then rectify it with speed, every step of the way.
So let’s look back on 2015 with this philosophy in mind.

What can we do more of?

2015 saw Joe Public launch two of our largest and most integrated campaigns to date as an agency. One for our client Dialdirect and the other for our Nedbank client – Business Banking.

In the cases of both these campaigns, the lead pieces within the 360° mix were long format emotional television commercials, both achieving high impact and talkability in the market. Yes, talkability. Because the highest measure of what we do should be ‘talkability’. It is the only way to add value to the media spend of our clients. It is also the only path towards occupying the most valuable media space available to us, namely the space between our consumers’ ears.

Ironically, it seems that in order to do great work, we also had to put up a good fight. A fight for more time, a fight for more money, a fight for no compromise. And the positive outcome of what may sound like a negative approach? The growth of our clients. Dialdirect’s book has increased over the past year whilst Nedbank has knocked FNB off their perch as the no. 3 bank in SA by volume.

So more fighting like a dog over a bone for the things that really matter in 2016: great work that gets tongues wagging.

During 2015, the onslaught to get more done within less time continued and the pressure on the system forced change within our agency. We expanded our PowaJoe process – introduced in 2014 – condensing this robust session into an additional mini PowaJoe: an on-site two day session allowing for the ideation of high amounts of high calibre ideas. We also introduced our Idean meetings in which our most experienced people put their heads together in order to find the best strategic and creative angles into briefs, gaining valuable time in the long run.

2015 also saw new people being appointed into management roles within Shift Joe Public, Ignite Joe Public and the launch of Joe Public United’s new digital agency, Connect Joe Public.

And with higher calibre people come higher calibre output towards the growth of our clients. In 2016 we will continue to focus on the growth and development of our people towards being the best they can be within our industry. After all, we are because of them.

And in order to inspire them, we continued to improve on our Joe Grow system, our Gross National Greatness quarterly reviews, various inspirational platforms within our agency and of late, Joe Reel: where incredible documentaries are showcased one evening a month on our rooftop deck. Viva creative inspiration!

And lastly, towards the growth of our country, One School at a Time continued to make a marked impact within our two partner schools in Soweto and Diepsloot. The highest point of the year being Project Phambili Sandile with us assisting one of our learners who is a double amputee, getting a new set of legs.

It is the culmination of all our efforts, from our campaigns towards growing our clients, to the growth of our people that ultimately allows our organisation to make a difference such as this in our community at large, one small step at a time.

What can we do less of?

In the words of Jim Collins, “Good remains the enemy of Great.” And in order to move from good to great we need to confront the brutal truth.

This year, through an internal audit, we have unearthed a very brutal truth about our industry: we are factually spending 80% of our time on that which has less than 20% of total marketing budget behind it.

Because we over-process what we do it leads to insignificant projects escalating into Ben-Hurs.

In a world that is moving at the speed of a meteorite, it is time for us to slow down and create time to think rationally about each and every job. So more time to think upfront in 2016, rather than building the plane while we are flying it.

Growth Tip for 2016: Always, always know and disclose your total budget – media and production – upfront. Because how would an architect ever know the scope of his or her design without any scope of budget.

Meetings. A place where minutes are taken and hours are lost.

I personally set out this year to have less of them, and ended having more. Endless conversations that leads to more meetings to have more conversations that leads to more meetings.

We have become slaves to meetings, thinking that meeting meets our number one criteria: great work.

If the outcome of a meeting does not radically enhance our final product, then why have the meeting in the first place?

We need to become less obsessed about input and more fanatical about output.

Our approach has to change in 2016 if we are to continue on our journey towards greatness.

Growth tip for 2016: Have 20 minute meetings rather than 60 minute meetings. This way we will be forced to focus.

2015 also saw a steady increase in the ticking of boxes.

We have forgotten that our consumers are emotional beings and that shopping is done with the heart and not the head.

Just like we have over-processed our meetings, we have over-processed our communication.

And for every new box we introduce, we perpetuate complex communication.

Simplicity is genius and genius is what we should strive for. And if we are not, then we are not being responsible marketers.

Growth tip for 2016: If you can’t convey your message in 8 words or less, then be a responsible marketer. Don’t say it at all.

In conclusion. Against a full frontal onslaught of economic pressure, we have battled it out in the trenches and soldiered through 2015. It is indeed true that real growth happens knee-deep in the manure.

So bring it on, 2016! Because United with our clients, our people and our country, we stand.