"Climber of the Year"
Four times already, Focus has honoured Isobar as the Climber Agency of the Year – and the chances of attaining title no. 5 are looking good.
The success stories surrounding Isobar just don't seem to stop. In April this year, the company was named "Climber Agency of the Year" by Focus for the fourth time in a row. This year, the chances are good that Isobar will attain the distinction yet again. In the last five years, the agency has grown by an average of more than 30% per year. Managing Director Helmut Kosa is proud to be one of the most successful Isobar acquisitions of the Dentsu Aegis Network. Isobar’s international network has more than 85 offices around the world.
At the beginning of the year, Isobar won the Beiersdorf account. This was followed by VW in Slovakia and Ikea in Switzerland. For Mondelez, Isobar is conducting a Milka campaign which is running in Hungary, Austria and Germany. "It's great that an agency from Austria can look after the German market", Managing Director Helmut Kosa notes with satisfaction – usually the exact opposite is the case. For the food corporation, Isobar Vienna is already the "creative hub" of the German-Austrian-Swiss region, which Kosa believes will grow further in the future. "I am convinced that we have a good starting point for development in this region", says the Isobar boss with confidence.
The last two years, Isobar has been much more active in Switzerland; one and a half years ago it finally ventured into the German market, which Kosa sees as an important step. Most decisions are no longer made in Austria, so one option for the agency would have been to remain local and niche-orientated – and also small. "But we decided on expansion", says Kosa. "We pitch very internationally."
Kosa is firmly convinced that in the future there will no longer be any distinction between creative agencies, digital agencies and media agencies: "It will all be one agency", he says with conviction. By this he means full service agencies such as Isobar, which satisfiy the whole range of its clients' needs. "In Austria, no huge marketing divisions are being established, but rather downsized" – everything is being optimised. So it is important for an agency to be able to offer a comprehensive package from a single source.
According to Kosa, at Isobar clients can get the whole spectrum: "It's possible to come to us and say 'I have a problem', and we work with you to develop solutions for you." This doesn't just include creation. Process optimisation is an ever more important aspect, particularly in the digital field. It is increasingly about understanding not merely the client's product, but also the processes behind it. "It will only function if it is an all-round solution", says Kosa.
For the last three years, the strategy has been to provide each client with a team representing the areas of creation, strategy, process optimisation, IT and data. Thanks to embedding in the agency network, there is not only access to the 30 internal operative staff members, but also to Isobar’s experts from around the world as needed. Isobar even boasts its own market research department. "These are assets which an advertising agency normally does not have", notes Kosa.
Kosa sees digitalisation as an inevitable societal development to which one must adapt. "I think the essential point is that there is no longer a distinction between digital and classic forms", Kosa reflects. "Anyone who has grasped this will have an easier time of it." Creative ideas will still be called for, but the order will change. With Isobar "transforming businesses, brands and people’s lives with the creative use of digital", as Kosa terms the agency, technical innovations and data are taken into account at the very beginning of idea development, since the creation itself is affected by these.
"We take a look at how we can develop solutions that are the right ones, based on the data that we have. Data analysts are sitting right there during brainstorming, which would have been impossible until recently", says Kosa. But despite all technical innovations, the focus is still on brand strategy, brand management and brand positioning, and appropriate commercialisation. We bring brand inspiration and transaction closer together, at Isobar we call this "Brand Commerce".
Sooner or later the entire sector will change, Kosa believes. "In the medium term, our competitors will not be classic advertising agencies, but rather management consultants, content providers or even media companies." A blending with IT is also becoming more and more common; think of SAP or IBM, which are already buying advertising agencies.
Growth Well Under Control
Despite the recent rapid growth, for Kosa the main thing is not how quickly Isobar grows, but rather how wisely. At present the sustained growth is "well under control" in any case and the company is on the right track. The positive economic climate, which Kosa perceives as a European phenomenon, is also opportune, "I find it important that the confidence spreads."
The secret of Isobar's success in the market, is a focus on the original goal of marketing - a very clear business purpose. "We don't create campaigns so that we can win a prize. We develop transformative work for businesses and brands. ", Kosa points out. "We develop solutions where we are confident that the client will profit from them." When a client has been helped on to more economic success, then the client sees value in our services. "The deal just has to be right. As long as the deal is right, it will work."