Gloo makes a compelling Case to be the AdFocus 2009 Digital Agency of the Year. Or perhaps that should be: Case makes a compelling Gloo.
Since founding the agency in 2005, creative director Pete Case has been the driving force behind its rise. He's been a judge at the Clio awards in New York, a two-time chairman of the Loeries digital creative advertising category, became the first digital member of the Creative Circle executive committee, and helps steer the Digital Forum, which aims to set standards for the sector.
However, it would be wrong to paint Gloo as a one-man show. Project management head Paula Hulley has brought extra focus to the business, while Templar Wales heads a new office in Johannesburg, which accounts for 65% of the Cape Town-based agency's business.
They will need to redouble their efforts, if Gloo is to continue its growth path. A 47% income increase to R14m during the July-June AdFocus reporting period will be hard to follow. New accounts during this period included SA Tourism, Exclusive Books, FNB Connect, Truworths, Cell C instore marketing, Castle Lager, Cosmo magazine, Royco and Pam Golding.
Case is also pleased with Gloo's success in turning project-based accounts into longer-term, strategic relationships. The agency's biggest clients are Cell C, FNB, SA Tourism, Spur Group, Exclusive Books and MWeb.
Despite its long-standing association with BBDO, there is no shortage of demand from other agencies for Gloo's services. Among those that used it last year were Ogilvy, JWT, FoxP2, Black River FC and Joe Public.
One can understand why. Gloo has dominated digital awards at the last two Loeries. The agency has also picked up awards at the Design Indaba (including a grand prix), Bookmarks, New York-based BDA global design awards, Assegais and Echo/Direct Marketing Association awards.
It has also been an important empowerment time for the agency, with Kagiso Media buying 50,1% of Gloo early this year.
Despite all this success, Gloo is not bulletproof. The end of its relationship with Virgin Money, when the company announced it would not commission new marketing material, was disappointing, as was the on-again-off-again uncertainty over the status of Telkom Media, after Gloo had won the digital account.
There are also signs that competitors are keen to close the gap. Aquaonline, under MD Brent Shahim, is starting to make itself noticed. Its strike rate for pitches entered and won last year was four out of four: Nokia, Garmin, Southern Sun and the Eastern Cape Tourism Board.
Existing major clients include MTN, Standard Bank and BMW. Aquaonline, whose activities include digital strategy and production, social media management, media strategy and customer relationship management activation, is getting on to awards lists, even if there were no significant wins last year.
Longer term, Digivox may be less than two years old and have a grand total of four staff, but it is already attracting work on behalf of clients such as Doritos, Peugeot, Thai Airlines and Alexander Forbes.
For now, though, Gloo is on a winning roll. As Lionel Richie sang in his 1991 hit song Stuck On You (Gloo... stuck... get it?): "I've got this feeling down deep inside that I just can't lose."