Retroviral wins Small Agency of the Year Award at AdFocus
The agency believes its success is rooted in a collaborative culture where diverse talents merge to create exceptional outcomes
Challenger boutique agency Retroviral is the well-deserved Small Agency of the Year for 2023. Having built a reputation for consistently delivering quality and clever work that leaves the viewer smiling, it was an obvious winner in this category, said the judges.
Not only has the agency had its most financially successful year yet, with more than 26% growth over the previous year, but it has demonstrated commitment to delivering exceptional results with a number of groundbreaking campaigns that exceeded client expectations.
A multispecialist agency, Retroviral has a vision to be the best “storyselling” — a term it defines as branded storytelling that converts to sales — agency group in Africa. The agency believes its success is rooted in a collaborative culture where diverse talents merge to create exceptional outcomes.
It describes itself as a challenger agency for challenger brands, thriving on delivering thought-provoking work that plays in the realm of discomfort. This also plays out in its culture, with its people constantly challenging each other to deliver ideas and content that cut through the clutter. Though it doesn’t aim to be controversial, it does strive to produce work that results in questions being asked — and hires with this ethos in mind.
It increased its staff complement to 17, up from 12 the previous year, and boasts a BBBEE level 2 score and 51% black ownership
Renowned for its ability to flex its creative muscle on lean budgets, Retroviral produces cut-through content that generates maximum earned media and has a direct impact on the bottom line through sales conversions. Using this approach, it has produced several award-winning campaigns, winning the Prism Campaign of the Year for two consecutive years for Kreepy Krauly (My Kreepy Teacher) and Checkers Sixty60 (Tinder Swindler). These successes were underscored by a 95% client retention rate.
That’s not to say the agency did not have its share of challenges: a campaign for BB Bakeries faced unexpected regulatory hurdles, resulting in delays and additional resource allocation.
It increased its staff complement to 17, up from 12 the previous year, and boasts a BBBEE level 2 score and 51% black ownership. Four staff left in the year, including the agency’s creative director, who emigrated. Rather than source a new creative director externally, the agency established a results-driven vision over a 12-month period for its head of design to grow into the role. This initiative was communicated with clients, resulting in both internal and external support for the new creative director.
The agency is committed to growth, with a graduate programme in place to consistently bring in new minds, diversity and fresh ideas. In 2023, the Retroviral graduates were exposed to all facets of the agency, from client service to creative copy and design. The agency recruited two of the three participants in the programme to full-time creative positions.
Looking ahead, the agency is poised to expand its offering, solidify its position as an industry leader, and continue delivering value to clients. Its roadmap includes further integration of AI and immersive technologies to drive campaign personalisation and engagement.
Read the full 2023 FM AdFocus
The big take-out: Retroviral describes itself as a challenger agency for challenger brands, thriving on delivering thought-provoking work that plays in the realm of discomfort.
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