John Little launches The Observatory in Johannesburg
After a 40 year stint in advertising – mostly with Ogilvy, working on large international brands likes of Procter & Gamble, Unilever etc in South Africa, Africa, Canada and the UK – John Little has joined the ranks of consultants as head of the South African operation of The Observatory International, a company specialising in Agency search and Client/Agency Relationship management.
In addition to its presence in South Africa the company has offices in London, Edinburgh, Hamburg, New York and Los Angeles.
In the early years of advertising, client/agency relationships lasted for decades, but this has changed. The competitiveness of the business environment today is placing more pressure on advertising agencies and marketers to perform. As a result relationships with suppliers – particularly advertising agencies – are far more tenuous than they have ever been. Today, the average relationship lasts three years.
As a result, marketers are particularly careful when selecting an advertising agency. What they look for is agencies that become partners that work closely with their marketing team. Subservience is not what they are after, but sound advice and dedication to the task.
What makes ‘The Observatory’ different from other consultants? According to Little, the company keeps a close watch on the performance of agencies in terms of their creative expertise and the marketing fields in which they operate. In particular, the culture of the agency is carefully studied. “Matching the culture of the marketer is vital to the process,” he says. “We also arrange workshops to make sure that the relationship is well aligned.”
He adds that bench-marketing and payment by results is important. “It has to be fair and benefit both parties. We also put face-to-face health checks in place to ensure that agreed performance levels are being honoured.”
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