What Got Quirk Here May Not Get Us There

Justin Spratt, Quirk Agency CEO, has a keen understanding of the current Quirk business and a vision for its future. Core to Quirk’s success is its ability to adapt, hence the need for a constant interrogation of whether or not we are doing things in the best way. What got us here may not get us there. We decided to get some insight into how he sees the place where we work – especially given this is an anniversary month for everything that is Quirk. 

1. The marketing industry has changed significantly in the last 13 years, as has Quirk. Are there key elements that you feel have led to Quirk adapting with and ahead of the market?

Yes, two things. Quirk chose a strategy of early investment and breadth of service, both of which reinforce the other. In other words, Quirk invests at the bleeding edge, specifically, taking a bet that the market will need the service in the near future. If the bet works, it means you come out as the market leader. It can be a costly business strategy, but Quirk, with Rob and Craig’s vision, have managed to crack it almost every time in the last decade. The risk one runs here is in being too early to market.

The other successful strategy Quirk pursued is rolling out a breadth of service. From the start, Quirk has had the widest service offering in South Africa. With this, you give up scale (and therefore margin), in the hope that it will allow clients a more complete service offering. Aside from it being easier for clients, the real win is in the completeness of thinking. Digital suffers badly when it tries to sticky tape disjointed ideas. The completeness of Quirk’s offering allows a truly integrated strategy. This leads to more effective campaigns on platforms that have longevity. It doesn’t always happen, but the odds of cracking it improve markedly from agencies with a wider breadth of service. Quirk does this well and it has been fundamental to its success.

2. What is the thing in Quirk that you identify with and appreciate the most?

The love of its people. There is nothing better than working with the smartest people in the industry. Those people work for companies that put them at the centre of what they do. Quirk does this.

3. Do you have a personal vision for Quirk?

To be the greatest company to work for in South Africa. A place where work is actually fun.

4. Are there a few key things that you want to see happen in Quirk to get it to where you think it should be in the next 5 years?

Yes. We are going to spend a lot of time working with our leadership to understand the "business of business" better. As the business scales it will become critical that we not only develop great agency leaders. A strong business discipline will also allow us to devolve more, thereby allowing us to be more adaptive to market conditions.

I would like to see our people finding enough "white space" to think globally important ideas. I would like Quirk to be delivering ideas that become part of South Africa’s social conscience. I would like us to be delivering platforms that talk to hundreds of millions of people across the continent – delivering campaigns that provide health information, education and promote commerce. And I would like to see our London office ushering big brands into Africa, pushing them to invest in the continent.

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