Category: News

A brief history of Saracen Media

Saracen Media was registered as a company on the 9th of July 2001 but only began operations on October 1st 2002. The company was the brainchild of four founding partners who had all worked for multi-national advertising agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather, McCann Erickson, and TBWA, previously. The dream of the founders was to establish a local media agency that would compete with the global agency groups in the area of media planning and buying, and elevate it beyond a subordinate role to the creative field, where a lot more emphasis was laid in selecting an agency, yet over 60% of budgets went into the media that connected customers with the creative message.

The founders were also convinced that the economic fortunes of the country were headed for a turnaround with the imminent election of Mwai Kibaki whom the founders held in high regard as an economist with great experience in running the fiscal side of the country.

On opening it’s doors for the first time, the agency acquired an additional 3 employees, (inherited from the previous owner of the offices who gave Saracen a major break in letting the company have a fully furnished and partitioned office in the then Mobil Plaza in Muthaiga, for a staggered payment plan over 3 years) which brought the total staff complement to 7. 

In the first full year of operation 2003 the company achieved a turnover of Kshs 13.4 Million but a loss of Kshs 730k, and the operations were fully funded by the savings of the founders. In 2004 the company’s turnover rose to 24.1M and posted it’s first modest profit of Kshs 347k. 

The founders who had all risen to the top in their field of Media Planning and Buying believed that this skill when properly deployed would benefit companies that advertised immensely, because the return on investment that proper planning media could generate was in the average region of 1:3 i.e for every shilling spent on media, the company could get a revenue of 3 shillings, and this was a global average bench mark established by the Journal of advertising research. The partners then set about educating the market on the value of media planning through presentations, and one on one interactions.

In 2005 the partners realized that to excel in this field there was a great need to tap into the vast R&D budgets of global media agency networks that went into developing insights and tools for superior results for clients. A search then commenced, and the partners wrote to 4 global groups Interpublic, Publicis, Aegis, and Omnicom, of these only Omnicom responded in the affirmative, and an assessment was conducted by the head of Omnicom agencies in Africa, after which he gave a go ahead for an affiliation. This was the preferred arrangement as an affiliation was based on a fixed fee, and gave the company access to all the tools, research, and global clients of the network without ceding equity. This is when the agency appended OMD to the Saracen name. www.omd.com 

The agency then went on to record a number of first and achievements among them, being the first agency to convince parastatals and government bodies to separate creative and media pitches, previously these had always been bundled together, but from the efforts outlined in a previous paragraph this came to be standard practice in the industry in Kenya. In 2006 the agency was also the first media specialist to be admitted to the Association of Practitioners in Advertising, which had previously only admitted “Full service” agencies (Agencies with Creative, media, and client service). 

In 2007 the agency set up an office in Uganda, and one of the founding partners moved to Uganda to grow the business there, and in that year the company in Kenya posted a turnover of Kshs 180M with a Kshs 1M profit, and a staff complement of 18. 

In 2008 the company entered the inaugural “Top 100 Midsized companies in Kenya” survey run by KPMG and ranked number 17. In this same year, the company started another media agency named Saracen PHD www.phdmedia.com to handle conflicting clients as well as compete for pitches in areas Saracen OMD could not. At this time Saracen OMD’s turnover was Kshs 279M.

The companies continued on a growth trajectory, and in 2011 established an office in Tanzania named Olaari Saracen OMD as the rules in Tanzania required a local partner in order to register the business. Tanzania was also slow in establishment due to the challenging operating environment for a Kenyan company, prior to finding a right fit in a partner.

By 2012 the staff complement across East Africa had grown to 34, and combined company turnover rose to over 1 Billion Kshs for the first time and the company was recognized by the Top 100 companies survey as members of Club 101, reserved for companies that cross the 1 Billion mark from within the ranks of survey members. The company was also appointed the regional hub for Omnicom media group agencies in East Africa, the other hubs being Lagos for West Africa, and Johannesburg for Southern Africa.

There followed a period of ebb and flow of turnover between 2013 and 2016, though profitability remained pretty stable, until 2017 when the company’s turnover crossed Kshs 2 Billion and Saracen became the 2nd largest agency in the East Africa region in terms of turnover.The companies held at this level until 2020 when the pandemic hit the advertising sector very hard and turnover dropped by 58%. 

In terms of culture, the founders were very deliberate about the kind of culture they wanted to create, having worked at different agencies and seeing the best and worst of the different cultures. They deliberately set out to ensure the following:

  • A collegial environment where co-workers are supportive, and foster a familial bond
  • No office politics
  • Open door policy by senior management
  • Constant learning embedded into everyone’s KPI’s
  • A sense of fun and enjoyment at work.
  • Excellence in the media craft.

Communication internally has evolved significantly since the advent of the pandemic, where previously staff meetings, reviews, and celebrations were the key means of disseminating important information and updates, this has now mainly moved to Microsoft Teams where we have introduced both work and social chats such as book clubs, and information sharing sessions in addition to the normal work sessions and chats. The company also had a bar on premise with games such as pool and foosball and this greatly fostered after work interaction, but this has been closed due to the pandemic.

Virtual town halls are now held every 8 weeks to update the entire region on all matters important to them, and since all are on the same Teams platform, we have seen collaboration levels increase markedly as well as online learning.

The company is currently in the middle of a transformation, to keep ahead of the transformations that have been accelerated by the pandemic and how people are now interacting with different media. The transformation seeks to deduce and incorporate the critical skills and knowledge that will be required of agencies into the future.

 

The founder’s profiles are:

Lenny Nganga – https://www.linkedin.com/in/lenny-nganga-5160071/ 

George Wanjohi – https://www.linkedin.com/in/george-wanjohi-966ba74/ 

Sammy Thuo – https://www.linkedin.com/in/sammy-t-87b0021/ 


Uncovering necessary truths, by OMD MENA’s Alejandro Fischer

OMD MENA’s head of strategy, Alejandro Fischer, discusses how technology and empathy should work in parallel to uncover the true desires of your consumer.

The minute we become marketers or take a marketing-adjacent role, we stop being a consumer. It is a hard pill to swallow; we are sure we still think as a consumer, but we do not. According to the 2019 ‘Empathy Delusion’ report by Reach Solutions, “There is a persistent belief in the industry that we have stronger empathy or that we are trained to overcome our biases. But it turns out we are more likely to be driven by these biases than the modern mainstream.”

Our intentions are good, but the truth is that we operate in our own echo chamber because we surround ourselves (professionally and personally) with people who share similar views and access the same information as us, and when we need to speak to consumers that don’t behave or think like us, we struggle. If we look at GlobalWebIndex (GWI) and compare people in an advertising/marketing function with the average population of the UAE, we can see huge differences in the way people in our industry consume media, purchase goods and engage with technology, compared with the mainstream. In other words, we act and think very differently from the man on the street. We as marketers are excited by all the technological tools we have at our disposal to reach and interact with our consumers, but we don’t always stop and think whether that’s what we should be doing. We believe in a world where consumers are dying to engage with the virtual reality (VR) experience of a laundry detergent, a world where consumers go around the city scanning QR codes and would much rather spend their time watching branded content than their favourite shows. Some do, most do not. This empathy gap doesn’t only manifest itself in the way we activate, but also in the way we approach marketing-driven solutions based on our interpretation of what people value and stand for.

While it is in many ways harder to make better planning decisions on behalf of our clients, we’ve never been so equipped to challenge our assumptions and overcome our biases. Never have we had so much access to what consumers are thinking and doing, and how they truly interact with brands. But with great data comes great responsibility. This is where empathy comes in.

Empathy is a compass that helps us navigate the complex decisions between what we could do and what we should do. We tackle every brief by looking to understand the people we want to reach, by putting ourselves in their shoes and seeing the world through their eyes. Empathy alone will never be enough, and we are privileged at OMD to have access to more than 15,000 signals using our precision market and insights platform, OMNI. With an almost infinite choice of information, the role of empathy is to prioritise what we look at, based on the specific problem we are trying to solve. Mapping this is only the first stage. If you were a fly on my office wall you would find scribbles of matrices across endless whiteboards. The second is to add the hypotheses that challenge any pre-existing audience assumptions. It takes a lot of conscious effort and front-of-mind acknowledgement to avoid biases. When working on an audience exercise, I like to use Post-It notes to break down what we think we know and what we actually know about the person we are trying to reach.

Empathy is not a philosophy; it is the way in which we interpret the data and uncover the multiple truths hidden within it. But it is only once we combine empathy and signals that the magic truly happens (for us this is the marriage of our empathy-driven process and OMNI). Because, once we isolate audience opportunities and problems to solve, we can stress-test our hypothesis by modelling the consumer experience, make our findings actionable by turning insights into highly targeted and addressable audiences, and apply statistical rigour to our understanding of how consumer behaviours drive brand and business results. This audience-centric approach does not only apply to understanding and addressing consumer needs; it is at the core of how we define success.

Empathy in action

We use empathy to separate what we measure from what matters and measure long-term vs. short-term success based on real human impact vs. vanity metrics. We do this to ensure we can optimise based on how consumers truly reacted and interacted with our messages vs. how we wished we performed. We pay a lot more attention to brand health impact, the quality of our interactions and what our consumers do post-click.

When we take time to truly understand our audiences, we can create more value, and when we combine this with evidence and data-based solutions, we drive performance and growth. Compelling value creation can only happen when we merge data-based solutions with evidence to uncover deeper insights into our audiences, which in turn drives performance and growth.

 

This article was published in Campaign Middle East 


Cristina Barranco named Managing Director of OMD SPAIN

This appointment is made in the context of the OmnicomMediaGroup Spain’ strategic transformation plan

Cristina Barranco has been named Managing Director of OMD Spain, leading both offices: Madrid and Barcelona. Cristina will be part of the Steering Committee and will report directly to Joan Jordi Vallverdú, CEO of OMG.

Joan Jordi Vallverdú, CEO of OMG, explains: “In these changing times, in an environment with new competitors, with increasing media fragmentation, with data and technology as essential variables in any strategy and, overall, in much more complex settings, is when Cristina’s passion, energy, knowledge and attitude will be relevant to help our clients grow their businesses with communication solutions to their business challenges”.

As Managing Director of OMD Spain, Cristina will be responsible for consolidating OMD Spain’s growth, managing both offices and focusing on strategy, marketing and new business, brand management, digital and creativity areas.

Commenting on her new role, Barranco says: “I am happy to return to OMD, already my home for many years, but happier to do so in a moment of full transformation in our industry that demands that we go side by side with our clients in an increasingly challenging context. I begin the project from a fantastic starting level and in the light of continuous improvement, with all my energy dedicated to making it even better”.

After a couple of years as Managing Director in agencies from Publicis Group and IPG, Cristina Barranco returns to OMD where she previously worked in different managing roles, working with advertisers from different categories in the digital and technology area.

Cristina graduated from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Directive Development Program in the IESE Business School by the Universidad de Navarra and degree by the London School of Economics and Political Science.


“When our differences are our biggest strength”

“Talk is cheap!” What are companies tangibly actioning to ensure a workplace culture of diversity, inclusion and safety?

Diversity is a hot topic. Everywhere you look, someone is talking about diversity and how it impacts the bottom line. But how many companies are talking about it because they feel they should? Because RFIs are now asking for diversity figures? Because they don’t want to be left behind? According to Mark Oben-Pepra, Managing Partner at OMD EMEA, the number one reason you should be cultivating a culture of inclusion in the workplace is because it’s the right thing to do.

Speaking to DMEXCO TV following an appearance on the Congress Stage at the global digital marketing expo & conference which took place in Cologne this week, Oben-Pepra said; “I think a lot of companies at the moment are talking about this because they feel it should be spoken about, it’s a fashionable topic right now and I think there are quite a lot of superficial motivations that lead a lot of companies to talk about this topic.” Awareness is leading to action though he added; “Encouragingly you are seeing a lot more conversations around concrete actions. Talk is cheap, it’s great that you can talk about it and have a vision and a perspective, but more importantly, so what. What are the key steps you are taking to turn this into action?”

Earlier in the day, Open-Pepra joined Virginia Bastian, Group Manager HR at Nestlé, Sarah Bernuit, European Leader at IBM iX and Lisa Utzschneider, CEO at IAS in a panel moderated by the power-house that is CEO and Founder of The Female Quotient, Shelley Zalis, to discuss gender equality in the technological world, but it soon became clear the panel felt equality encompassed more than gender alone.

Speaking about diversity as a whole, Bernuit explained: “Diversity is bringing a different set of people to the party, inclusion is making sure everyone dances”. The panel was in unanimous agreement that the culture of inclusion needs to be led from the top down “It is not a tick-box, everyone needs to be held accountable” said Bernuit with Bastian adding “You have to build the process from many places, you have to start at the top and have clear guidelines and values. Once you have a framework, you can build upon it. We have diverse consumers we are talking to, so we need to have diversity in the workplace to address that”. Oben-Pepra added from a media standpoint, “Seeing yourself reflected in the media is so important. Seeing different age profiles and seeing that all sectors are accessible is crucial”.

Oben-Pepra went on to talk about being mindful of tokenism and ensuring you don’t start to steer towards positive discrimination. At OMD EMEA, a steering group has been formed to ensure this doesn’t happen. RED, an acronym for Recruitment, Engagement and Development, ensures inclusion is felt from the moment someone applies to join OMD EMEA, through using software to ensure job specs use inclusive and unbiased language, through to celebrating different cultures and international days of celebration, through to ongoing training in bias management and beyond.

Oben-Pepra was clear though “As OMD EMEA we are doing some fantastic work, but we by no means have all of the answers”.

Everyone is clear though, the more the topic of equality, inclusion and workplace safety is discussed and the more education there is around diversity for good in the workplace, the more we will see positive changes each and every day.

You can watch Mark Oben-Pepra’s interview in full on YouTube now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o4OffK5PyQ


“When our differences are our biggest strength”

“Talk is cheap!” What are companies tangibly actioning to ensure a workplace culture of diversity, inclusion and safety?

Diversity is a hot topic. Everywhere you look, someone is talking about diversity and how it impacts the bottom line. But how many companies are talking about it because they feel they should? Because RFIs are now asking for diversity figures? Because they don’t want to be left behind? According to Mark Oben-Pepra, Managing Partner at OMD EMEA, the number one reason you should be cultivating a culture of inclusion in the workplace is because it’s the right thing to do.

Speaking to DMEXCO TV following an appearance on the Congress Stage at the global digital marketing expo & conference which took place in Cologne this week, Oben-Pepra said; “I think a lot of companies at the moment are talking about this because they feel it should be spoken about, it’s a fashionable topic right now and I think there are quite a lot of superficial motivations that lead a lot of companies to talk about this topic.” Awareness is leading to action though he added; “Encouragingly you are seeing a lot more conversations around concrete actions. Talk is cheap, it’s great that you can talk about it and have a vision and a perspective, but more importantly, so what. What are the key steps you are taking to turn this into action?”

Earlier in the day, Open-Pepra joined Virginia Bastian, Group Manager HR at Nestlé, Sarah Bernuit, European Leader at IBM iX and Lisa Utzschneider, CEO at IAS in a panel moderated by the power-house that is CEO and Founder of The Female Quotient, Shelley Zalis, to discuss gender equality in the technological world, but it soon became clear the panel felt equality encompassed more than gender alone.

Speaking about diversity as a whole, Bernuit explained: “Diversity is bringing a different set of people to the party, inclusion is making sure everyone dances”. The panel was in unanimous agreement that the culture of inclusion needs to be led from the top down “It is not a tick-box, everyone needs to be held accountable” said Bernuit with Bastian adding “You have to build the process from many places, you have to start at the top and have clear guidelines and values. Once you have a framework, you can build upon it. We have diverse consumers we are talking to, so we need to have diversity in the workplace to address that”. Oben-Pepra added from a media standpoint, “Seeing yourself reflected in the media is so important. Seeing different age profiles and seeing that all sectors are accessible is crucial”.

Oben-Pepra went on to talk about being mindful of tokenism and ensuring you don’t start to steer towards positive discrimination. At OMD EMEA, a steering group has been formed to ensure this doesn’t happen. RED, an acronym for Recruitment, Engagement and Development, ensures inclusion is felt from the moment someone applies to join OMD EMEA, through using software to ensure job specs use inclusive and unbiased language, through to celebrating different cultures and international days of celebration, through to ongoing training in bias management and beyond.

Oben-Pepra was clear though “As OMD EMEA we are doing some fantastic work, but we by no means have all of the answers”.

Everyone is clear though, the more the topic of equality, inclusion and workplace safety is discussed and the more education there is around diversity for good in the workplace, the more we will see positive changes each and every day.

You can watch Mark Oben-Pepra’s interview in full on YouTube now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o4OffK5PyQ


OMD EMEA – DMEXCO 2019

The 2019 DMEXCO expo and conference coincides with the pivotal journey of our clients taking more ownership of their ad tech and data echo system. One of our main objectives in DMEXCO will be to explore cutting edge solutions that will amplify our proprietary agency platforms and ultimately help our clients to accelerate their digital goals.

We predict that the big players will come out in full force to showcase their big data solutions in a post-GDPR and data privacy era. We’ve seen the big tech players (Facebook, Google and Apple) enforce heavy restrictions on cookies, 3rd party data, and individual user logs. We have also started to see a gradual reintroduction of solutions that previously benefited from these now restricted components, such as multi-touch attribution; re-emerge as GDPR friendly cleanroom solutions, such as Google Ads Data Hub and Amazon Marketing Cloud. We expect company delegates on the expo floor, as well as conference speakers, to give clarity on how they will adapt their support for a cookie-less world. We also predict that platform integration will be a big talking point, especially with data management platforms (DMP) and demand-side platforms (DSP) answering to how they will overcome the big players extending their walled gardens, resulting in making addressable data match rates more difficult to achieve.

Stay tuned to hear more from OMD EMEA throughout DMEXCO and look out for our post-event recap next week.

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OMD FWD – 23rd August 2019 ?

⚠️WARNING DATA BREACH⚠️There has been a lot of news surrounding the increased concerns behind tech platforms’ use of data. The recent Netflix documentary ‘The Great Hack’ is bringing this into the spotlight even more.

As a response to the increasing scrutiny, tech platforms have been making moves to put the power back into the hands of the users and creators. Facebook have finally allowed users to turn off data gathering from outside websites and apps. Meanwhile, YouTube changed their copyright enforcement policies around music, meaning creators no longer have to claim music rights for their videos.

Bad news for the music industry and data miners, but power to the people!

 

Disrupt to sell? Retailer Kohl’s connects with Instagram to help bring Insta-famous brands into its stores.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find out why Vimeo is thriving as the anti-YouTube and what the CEO’s plans are for the future

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Google’s AI Lab have created a real hand tracking algorithm that could transform sign language forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming soon… Facebook’s new cinema ad format set to increase buzz around studio releases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6,5,4,3,2,1… Twitter launches a viewable ad bid which only charges brands for videos viewed for at least six seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google host the second Stadia Connect live event at Gamescom showcasing exciting partner developments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you co-exist with robots? Reports show that by 2022 more than 54% of employees will require upskilling or training in order to compete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not a snap decision! A Snapchat business report shows that 59% of users are more likely to consider multiple vehicles in their buyer journey.


OMD FWD – 15th August 2019 ?

In the new “Data Never Sleeps” report, it was revealed 694,444 hours of Netflix are watched every minute. But competition is heating up, as the ‘streaming wars’ get more intense.

This week, news broke that Disney+ is set to launch before the end of the year, Netflix has poached the Game of Thrones creators, and Apple TV’s upcoming show ‘The Morning Show’ is reported to be worth a whopping $240 million. Facebook also want a piece of the action, testing subscriptions on Facebook Watch.

With so many players entering the game, who will be dominating the streaming service market come 2020?

Mixing music with a twist…Bacardi ‘hacks’ YouTube to launch The Beat Machine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Search and press play! Google now includes podcast episodes in search bar

 

 

 

 

The future of TV is going mobile: ‘vertical dramas’ are being created specifically for phone viewing.

 

 

 

 

 

Keep up with your favourite Twitter rant, as the platform tests a ‘subscribe to thread’ feature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hip-hop dancers paint Paris in a new light with Google’s ‘Dance View’ to celebrate Gare de Lyon’s 170th anniversary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you cut the cord? Report shows streaming services have gained 13.3 million subscribers in the UK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going, going, gone! Verizon sells Tumblr to WordPress owner Automattic Inc. for $3 million.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The future of Snapchat is bright! ‘Spectacles 3’ is here, with a hefty price tag of $380.


OMD FWD- 8th August 2019?

From Netflix recommendations to the rise of voice assistants, AI is increasingly finding its way into our daily lives. Just yesterday, Nike announced that they are buying an AI startup to predict what consumers want. You can’t deny AI is everywhere.

How do we accept, understand and trust AI in our day to day lives? Look no further than our very own Retail Revolution research study, which this week was featured in Business Insider series How AI Is Changing Everything

 

The Tik Tok takeover continues! By partnering with Giphy, fans of both can now import stickers and create memes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are third party schedulers a thing of the past? Instagram rolls out their very own post creator studio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexa, close your ears… Amazon are now giving users the option to opt out of human review of their voice recordings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social media marketers rejoice as Snapchat’s new tool makes it easier to create vertical video assets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pin, pin, pin. Shop, shop, shop! The number of retail products on Pinterest was up by 50% in Q2 of 2019.

 

 

 

 

This report of high-subscriber YouTube channels finds that children’s content received more views than other videos!

 

 

 

 

The 4 giants unite in their goal to simplify data migration between platforms, as Apple joins Google, Facebook and Twitter in The Data Transfer Project.

 

 

 

 

Introducing WhatsApp Pay! Messenger services plans to make sending money between their 400 million active users as easy as sending a voice note.


OMD FWD- 8th August 2019?

From Netflix recommendations to the rise of voice assistants, AI is increasingly finding its way into our daily lives. Just yesterday, Nike announced that they are buying an AI startup to predict what consumers want. You can’t deny AI is everywhere.

How do we accept, understand and trust AI in our day to day lives? Look no further than our very own Retail Revolution research study, which this week was featured in Business Insider series How AI Is Changing Everything

 

The Tik Tok takeover continues! By partnering with Giphy, fans of both can now import stickers and create memes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are third party schedulers a thing of the past? Instagram rolls out their very own post creator studio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexa, close your ears… Amazon are now giving users the option to opt out of human review of their voice recordings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social media marketers rejoice as Snapchat’s new tool makes it easier to create vertical video assets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pin, pin, pin. Shop, shop, shop! The number of retail products on Pinterest was up by 50% in Q2 of 2019.

 

 

 

 

This report of high-subscriber YouTube channels finds that children’s content received more views than other videos!

 

 

 

 

The 4 giants unite in their goal to simplify data migration between platforms, as Apple joins Google, Facebook and Twitter in The Data Transfer Project.

 

 

 

 

Introducing WhatsApp Pay! Messenger services plans to make sending money between their 400 million active users as easy as sending a voice note.


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