IAS sees clients pushing boundaries for expanded offerings from agencies

As one of South Africa’s foremost intermediary consultancies, the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS) specialises in match-making that produces an effective marketer-agency relationship that meets the current and future needs of both parties.

“We are seeing a wave of restructuring for optimal B-BBEE compliance, as well as for the diversity the industry needs to keep up with global marketing and creativity levels,” says IAS Managing Director Johanna McDowell. “We’ve recently been approached by several agencies seeking suitable business partners with whom to structure new entities or create exclusive contracts that may lead to a merger or an acquisition in the future.”

In the digital space, McDowell says, there are firms of various sizes looking to form associations with black-owned agencies, where their clients’ products or services must speak to a specific demographic.

“It’s important to note, though,” she says, “that successful agency partnerships start and end with the softer issues. For the IAS, this means determining whether two companies can work together based on their innate culture, chemistry and values.

“Our partnership with SCOPEN Africa that produced Agency Scope 2017/2018 has expanded the way we see these softer issues, based on SCOPEN’s involvement in so many other countries giving the IAS a real-time view into markets across the globe.”

So, why would agencies need the “most recommended pitch consultants” in South Africa? McDowell says creating a working partnership isn’t as simple as it sounds. “Every deal is different, from the ATL agency in Cape Town that needs a digital or outdoor specialist in Johannesburg to the in-house marketing division that requires a specialist film production team, the number of boxes that must be ticked is substantial.”

With more consumers and businesses looking to support economic inclusivity, it makes sense for a successful organisation to acquire or engage with another successful one that has the skills they require. “The IAS is acutely aware of the importance cultural matching and chemistry that must be there from the start if the partnership is going to be successful,” McDowell asserts.

“Finding a perfect fit is largely an intuitive process. The basics, such as size of agency, core skills and client type, is the easy part,” she says. “When it comes to the chemistry, potential skill-swapping and how both partners will adapt to each other’s standards, we need to delve deeper into how each works; their agility in producing the goods and the effort each puts in to ensure client satisfaction.”

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