King James Digital has been ranked the number one digital agency and the King James Group the number one digital & interactive communication agency in South Africa, Africa and the Middle East for 2018 by the Loeries. And in doing so, took Sanlam to the top spot as the number one brand in the country for the second time in four years.
When the agency was founded by Alistair King and James Barty in 1999, it was squarely a best-of-breed brand advertising business. Very quickly though, they had clients demanding more of the King James quality in corresponding communications disciplines. They partnered with the top specialists to found RSVP (BTL & Design), Atmosphere (PR). Hammer Live Brands (activations and experiences), Mnemonic (digital) and Society (social media).
All were set up as separate businesses designed to provide the integrated offering their various clients demanded. All geared to incentivise entrepreneurial communication discipline specialists to lead them. All sanctioned to do direct business with conflicting clients when the opportunity arose. All completely independent.
Then, ‘digital’ matured. ‘Everything’ became digital. It was (and is) no longer a separate ‘channel’. Digital became mainstream. Social became mainstream.
In precedent, the King James’ digital offering was rebooted under a new brand name, Punk. New management was brought in. Society was amalgamated into Punk in 2014. In 2015, Punk acquired the top ranked digital agency in SA, Flnt + Tndr, and rebranded it to Punk Johannesburg. Punk then further added Media + Data as a separate offering by purchasing the growing media shop SOC in 2016.
Ironically, it’s because the business was getting more complicated that it had to be simplified. And so, in 2017, all the digital services were collapsed into a single brand entity – King James Digital – allowing it to develop and change at the speed of culture.
“The terms 360, or through-the-line, or integrated, or digital, or full-service are, as far as we’re concerned, redundant,” says Nimay Parekh, CEO of King James Digital.
“On a broad level, our role is to create investment-worthy ideas that bring our clients’ businesses closer to their customers. Regardless of channel.” says Matt Ross, King James Digital Founder and CCO.
King James Digital’s offering is set in four very distinct, very interconnected verticals, essentially an end-to-end customer experience.
The creation of integrated & digital campaigns designed to be shared and make an impact on culture.
Service & Platforms
Designing and implementing digital products and services that help businesses’ digitally transform and seize new opportunities.
Planning, executing and tracking wholly bespoke and transparent digital media solutions.
The lifeblood of digital. The collection and analysis of data provides rich audience insights, and the ongoing improvement of digital services and platforms.
Crucially, the broadening of their digital services has been done making sure that the qualities of the King James brand are not compromised.
“There are so many charlatans and snake-oil salesman taking advantage of clients’ confusion in this exponentially complex digital age. We bring the quality, surety and calm of the King James brand to the full digital brand eco-system,” Ross adds.
A crucial addition to the communications offering has been the promotion of Lauren Chavez to Executive Earned Media Director – a newly created role – whose purpose is to provide specific earned media insight and knowledge as well as creative and functional support to integrated campaigns.
“All of our clients love the concept of earned media. They see it as more bang for their buck – and rightly so. But critical to success is fully appreciating the many levers you need to pull to create it,” says Chavez. “We talk more of an impact on culture. To deliver the measurable impact we expect of our campaigns, I bring my 13 years of PR experience and apply it in a laser-focused way to ensure we maximise the earned media potential of our ideas.”
The principle is simple. Bring in the best talent and expertise to cater for client need, and then offer the service.
“As an independent, we can invest in people first. Then find the work. Not the other way around. We don’t construct the airplane whilst the runway is being built. That’s how things go bad,” Ross continues.
And it’s working.
King James Loeries individual rankings
#1 and #2 Executive Creative Directors
#1 and #2 Creative Directors
#1 and #2 Copywriters
#1 and #2 Art Directors
#1 User Experience
Another milestone in the 20-year constant evolution of the King James Group.