Sports advertising agency Brand inc, whose clients include Orlando Pirates, the SA Rugby Union (Saru) and Vodacom, is about to sell a 49% stake to a major media-agency group, says MD Chris Heaton.
He won’t divulge the identity of the intended partner but says: “Brand inc is in the process of a share buyout by a media company which that will accelerate our growth.” He adds: “We’re finalising the paperwork. It will happen in the next two months.”
The deal involves the initial sale of 35%, followed by another 14%. Heaton says it will increase the size of the agency, which has offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, from 25 staff to 35 within 12 months. It will also give Brand inc access to its new partner’s expertise and clients.
The agency started life in 2003 as an interactive graphics company called Dynamation Graphics, before changing name and direction. After developing a reputation for design, it also became recognised for advertising after winning the Saru account in 2004.
It has held the account ever since but not without a scare. In 2010 the agency appointed Goodwill Moyo as marketing director and to head the Cape Town office. “We had a very successful year in 2009 and recorded billings of about R1,3m for Saru alone,” says Heaton. “In 2010 it suddenly dropped to R350000 and we suspected there was a Cape Town agency doing work for them.” These suspicions were confirmed by Saru but it said Brand inc might be able to regain the full account if it opened a Cape Town office.
Moyo exceeded his initial turnover target of R1,8m, by hitting R9,5m in the 2011-2012 financial year. The branch recently won the account for sports betting operator Ladbrokes.
“We’re very results-focused,” says Moyo. “At the recent junior rugby world championship we achieved five record-breaking days in terms of attendance, the biggest-ever crowd for a final with 35000 people, and a 200% increase in TV viewership.”
Most of Brand inc’s clients have existing agencies for the main advertising work. It specialises in creative work around sponsored events. So while Draftfcb is Vodacom’s headline agency, Brand inc works on events like the rugby Vodacom Cup; and it developed the advertising campaign launching Shield deodorant’s sponsorship of the Springboks.
Heaton expects the agency’s R14,5m annual turnover to grow rapidly on the back of the new partnership. “There aren’t a lot of agencies that can claim to be design and advertising specialists in the sports industry.” His ambition is to open offices in Australasia and the UK within five years.