Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

James Moffatt, CEO and founder of the Promise Group, lives by two mantras. The first is “don’t drink your own Kool-Aid”. The other, “lean into the wind”, describes Moffatt’s insistence that he, and everyone else at the agency, should always feel slightly uncomfortable – just enough to ensure that they remain innovative and ahead of the curve.

The Promise Group was recently named one of the top three agencies in SA in the Scopen “Client satisfaction” category, and Moffatt attributes this accolade to the fact that the focus of all the work of the agency is on ensuring that its clients win, in a business sense.

It’s a tough time to be in the advertising business, for many reasons, says Moffatt. And in a gruelling and competitive landscape, understanding the needs of challenging and critical consumers is essential. Indeed, according to the Scopen 2016 research findings, 40.9% of marketers in SA believe the biggest challenge creative agencies now face is the need to better understand the consumer.

James Moffatt. Picture: SUPPLIED
James Moffatt. Picture: SUPPLIED

Moffatt points out that there is no single way that can be applied to the understanding of consumer needs and behaviour patterns. Every brand is unique, he says, which is why it is crucial to have a strong partnership with clients. “Clients are in possession of a wealth of data and insights about their consumers, and it is the role of the agency to work with [clients] and help them to mine this information. This, together with additional research and immersion, helps us formulate a strategy relevant to both the brand and its particular market,” he says. Immersion, he adds, doesn’t just mean sitting in a tavern in a township drinking a particular brand of beer, for example, but also immersion in the client’s business itself. 

Understanding the consumer market is an ongoing process, as consumers’ demographics and psychographics, along with their purchasing and behavioural patterns, evolve constantly. Moffatt says an agency can never stop trying to understand a specific consumer, because markets are dynamic and change all the time.

He stresses the importance of a collaborative approach between agency and client, explaining that the Promise Group, together with its clients, creates a set of informed and intelligent key performance indicators that allows the impact of every marketing activity to be measured and assessed. “We encourage our clients to lean into the wind with us as we all work to develop a sound understanding of consumers and a strategy that will ultimately become the interface between the brand and its consumers,” he says.

Written in strategic places on the agency walls, is the saying: “Come with remarkable, or don’t come at all.” It’s a bloodbath in the industry at the moment, says Moffatt, and if you’re not delivering work that is not only remarkable but also delivers results that are actively measurable, you simply won’t survive.

The big take-out: James Moffatt, CEO of the Promise Group, prizes client satisfaction, ongoing investigation into a constantly evolving consumer market and the delivery of remarkable, results-orientated and measurable work as the way to get ahead in the advertising industry.

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