Philip Ireland, one of South Africa’s top advertising creatives and co-founder of Ireland/Davenport, has joined local creative technology company BNRY as Executive Creative Director.
It may seem an unlikely mix – an award-winning, above-the-line creative and a below-the-radar outfit that fiercely resists being called an ‘agency’ or a ‘consultancy’. But therein lies the magic, says Ireland and BNRY managing director Benon Czornij.
“We are not bolting on above-the-line expertise and calling ourselves an integrated agency,” says Czornij. “Our complementary creative and tech expertise presents a rich offering to clients looking to solve impossible business problems.”
Ireland laughs when asked if he’s going to learn code. “Maybe,” he says.
With inhouse services in three divisions – technology and software, content production and digital marketing – Ireland and Czornij believe that BNRY is positioned to be the secret weapon of ambitious companies because they are not invested in proposing any one service, tactic or communication channel to their clients.
“Some of BNRY’s best work has been driven by marketing objectives, and some of our best work has addressed fundamental operational issues,” says Czornij.
For Ireland, the creative challenge of looking outside traditional ATL or BTL channels to execute on briefs is an invigorating one.
Acknowledging the incongruity of this sentiment coming from a distinguished advertising veteran, he says “I’ve been in advertising. Our real value to clients is helping them be better at their own business – not creating award-winning campaigns.”
“We want to help clients find the capability and courage to change the world for themselves and their customers,” says Ireland. “We will bravely advise clients that a TV ad, or a new website, or a Facebook campaign is not the best fit for their objectives even if that was the brief.”
“Even if that means we do not win the account,” adds Czornij.
For clients that include Discovery Health, Vodacom, Sanlam Investments, Isuzu and Wilderness Safaris, BNRY has eliminated the separation of strategy, creative and production, as well as the inefficiencies common in legacy client service and traffic structures.
“We value agility and we are prepared to create and recreate structure as we go, depending on what clients require,” says Ireland.
And what else does BNRY value? “Excellence,” says Czornij immediately. “And ‘no bullshit’.”
“We’re tired of hearing that Africa is a laggard when it comes to technology, creativity and excellence. And we refuse to accept that transparent, mutually-respectful relationships between agencies and clients are difficult to nurture,” he says.
“BNRY exists to change both perceptions.”