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Two Tone Global wins 2023 AdFocus Adaptability Award. Picture: Supplied
Two Tone Global wins 2023 AdFocus Adaptability Award. Picture: Supplied

The Adaptability Award was first introduced in 2020 to recognise an agency that has adapted to a new paradigm, demonstrating that it has embraced flexibility and manoeuvrability, and has risen above the disruption of an unusual period.

Two years ago, Two Tone Global was still reeling from the commercial impact of the pandemic. Before Covid, the agency employed 22 people and generated 60% of its billing from brand experiences. By mid-2020, Two Tone Global had been forced to reduce its staff count to just six people.

The only reason it didn’t cut back even more was that it had started re-engineering and reinventing itself in 2019 to be more digitally focused. The key appointments made in 2019 allowed it to respond and adapt to pandemic restrictions.

Falling back to its core offering of being a creatively led agency with strong digital capabilities, Two Tone Global began to develop digital experiences and trade campaigns for clients such as Nestlé, Diageo and Telkom, allowing them to engage with and activate consumers virtually when physical engagement was not possible.

Its shift from what was a primarily activation-based agency to a niche digital engagement operation soon paid dividends, allowing the it to grow revenue by 135% between March 2022 and May 2023. A 98% success rate as far as pitches were concerned helped, winning the business brands such as Telkom, African Bank, SABC 1, 2 and 3 and Pernod Ricard.

That’s not to say it has all been smooth sailing. Like many of its competitors, Two Tone Global has struggled to upscale its human resources talent in tandem with the rate at which it has won new business in the past two years. It was also required to create more office space for its additional people and to find the necessary capital to fund its new business acquisitions.

The agency, which is 100% black owned, has struggled to adapt to a hybrid working model post-pandemic. One of the its biggest insights coming out of the past two years is that the hybrid model is not optimal for collaboration or creativity. It realised early on that ensuring highly creative work requires collaboration and inclusivity. It also found that its people were more motivated when they were able to engage face to face, with resilience resulting from the camaraderie that developed among team members.

To mitigate staff burnout, Two Tone Global engaged reputable talent scouts to assist with human resources appointments. It redesigned its existing office to create more space, including for production facilities, and approached a funding and financial grant agency to capitalise its new projects. This funding was approved in late 2022.

Staff were provided with incentives to work from the office, including a commuter budget to ease the financial pressure of travelling to work, while a hybrid energy backup system lessened downtime resulting from load-shedding.

As part of its strategy to gear itself for growth, Two Tone Global conducts regular high-focus sessions with its staff on business strategy as well as talent development programmes. Its talent acquisition strategy, which prioritises finding suitable employees with the right culture and vision, continues. Its human resources strategy is to build a high-performance team with high levels of creativity.

The agency has also expanded its footprint by opening an office in Kenya.

The judges said Two Tone Global’s turnaround not only demonstrated tenacity and resilience, but succeeded in establishing the agency as a meaningful industry player that delivers a sustainable and relevant product, making it a worthy winner.

Read the full 2023 FM AdFocus here

The big take-out: Two Tone Global’s turnaround demonstrated tenacity and resilience and established it as a meaningful player that delivers a sustainable and relevant product.

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