Challenger advertising agency, AVATAR, marked the advent of 2016 by winning a much sought-after account in Cape Town. Following a three-way pitch late last year, AVATAR was awarded the Chevron South Africa account.
“We were invited to pitch for the Caltex digital account and went through the process late last year, alongside leading Cape Town based agencies. We were thrilled when Chevron told us early this year that we’d won the business,” says Zibusiso Mkhwanazi, CEO of AVATAR, adding that the agency will be opening an office in the Mother City.
“AVATAR’s understanding of our business, our operating environment and our target markets, coupled with their business-focussed interpretation of our brief, demonstrated acumen not only for driving sales but the complete offering that Caltex provides across its network,” says Price Njokweni, General Manager Market Support at Chevron.
Mkhwanazi says: “AVATAR is an integrated agency with digital at the core, so the ideas we had for the Caltex account weren’t ideas siloed around digital. AVATAR’s thinking extended into the brand’s core business, around how we get consumers to the Caltex fuel pump, together with the customers’ experience at the pump and how the brand can continue to add value to people after they leave. For us it’s all about how the brand can better engage with the customer using all the channels available, including traditional media.”
AVATAR was established in 2012 as a full-service marketing agency with digital at the core, by its 100% shareholders, Mkhwanazi and Veli Ngubane (who serves as chief creative officer). Mkhwanazi says one of the key drivers for founding AVATAR was that the pair wanted to form an agency that genuinely cares for the people it employs, and builds enduring relationships with clients.
Mkhwanazi explains: “The name AVATAR represents brands that live in a connected world. At a time when traditional agencies were taking above-the-line campaigns and converting them to digital, we saw a gap for an agency with an integrated, holistic approach. Campaigns should work through the line, and be crafted appropriately for all channels. Besides being local and embracing diversity, AVATAR is all about forging lasting value for our clients as well as their customers.”
AVATAR clients now include BET, Brand South Africa, FOX Africa, National Geographic Africa Channels, South African Airways, Sanofi, the Limpopo Tourism Agency, The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, financial services provider Ubank, and global energy company Chevron.
“Landing this account has prompted AVATAR to set up offices in Cape Town for clients in the Mother City that feel the need for an agency partner that understands the broad South African landscape and that it is populated by people from diverse backgrounds. We’ll enter this market as an agency with an intimate understanding of digital and conventional media, but also to appeal to companies that want to create meaningful relationships with their customers, regardless of whether they’re from Khayelitsha or Camps Bay,” says Mkhwanazi.
Mkhwanazi pooh-poohs talk about Cape Town’s established networks of patronage. “We enjoy being the outsider. We’ve done this before – in Jozi we achieved over 100% growth in three consecutive financial years and are now employing 50 people,” he says, talking about how Cape Town has been pretty much closed to upstarts like AVATAR, but how he looks forward to changing this.
This year is the fourth year of AVATAR’s existence and will be marked by further growth, Mkhwanazi adds, and explains that the agency has grown to a point where it can start thinking about acquiring agencies that want to remain South African and have the benefit of value adding partners.