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A new digital player called Native has arrived on the South African scene, formed from a merger of three established digital agencies: Johannesburg-based Brandsh and Cambrient, and the largely Cape Town-focused Stonewall+.
The new CEO of the entity is former 2.0 Media Chief Creative Officer and film-maker Jason Xenopoulos, who apparently put the deal together with a vision of creating a “full service digital agency”. Memeburn understands that the merger was put together in a remarkably short amount of time over a matter of months.
Xenopoulos is no stranger to the web, being CEO of the now-defunct online niche business-to-business play, Metropolis — an early dot.com startup of the ’90s, owned by Primedia and linked to iafrica.com. Metropolis was claimed by the dot.bomb crash and low internet connectivity of that time.
It’s understood by Memeburn that the key shareholders of the new entity will be Xenopoulos and the senior management figures of the three merged companies. Angus Robinson is the CEO of Brandsh which has a mobile and social media specialisation. Ben Wagner is the CEO of Stonewall+ which is known for its inspiring creative work and media buying, and Jarred Cinman, Technology Director of Cambrient, who brings strong technical skills and a proprietary content management system to the mix.
According to media and marketing site Bizcommunity, the new combined agency will employ more than 120 staff members, and work with clients ranging from General Motors and Standard Bank to Seacom and DStv.
Wagner told Memeburn that “the market at the moment has some solid players specialising in various niches, but no true full service offering”.
“Internationally, the emergence of agencies who are born into digital are now starting to develop agency of record status for their clients, which we’re ultimately aiming for in the medium to long-term future. We feel that digital agencies have lacked the brand custodianship credentials, which we hope to build on as we lead our clients into this exciting digital age, he said.
Wagner says that Native wants to be “the best agency in the country”. For him this means developing the best creative work that delivers measurable and demonstrable results for clients off the back of the most appropriate technology platform.
He went on to emphasise that an international thrust will be a big focus of the new entity.
“We’re naturally looking to compete on the global stage and feel that we possess the collective credentials and skills to allow us to start jostling for our place at the head of the pack. Coupled to this we want to sit at the lead table strategically with our clients, and demonstrate to them the power of digital marketing, whilst leading them through the rapid and continuous change ahead,” said Wagner.
Cinman is quoted on Bizcommunity as saying the industry “anticipates” consolidation, and various players have started bulking up, so the creation of Native for him is less about size and more about bringing together the minds of a group of market leading experts and making this available to clients.
Cinman told Memeburn that, “From a Cambrient perspective, this is a way to expand our business with some of SA’s market leaders, without having to sell or build new agencies of our own. It places the whole new business at the top of the industry, ready to take on the major accounts and projects that will be on offer in the coming years.”