25 Jun Introducing: TWO.AM
TWO.AM is an almost-brand-new integrated creative agency born out of digital, lead through creativity and underpinned by strategy. The agency is co-founded by Creative Director Marco Russolillo and Managing Director Anine de Wet who first worked together at Isobar. Marco has worked within the South African ad industry for over a decade on some of the top local and international brands at some of South Africa’s most awarded agencies, the likes of King James and Gloo. Anine graduated with Honours in International Marketing. She started her career at Grey Global group in London, then Network#BBDO and then Fountainhead Design before moving into a focused digital offering at Isobar. The team launched TWO.AM at the beginning of this year.
We visited their beautiful office space in Woodstock, Cape Town recently to find out more about how they got started.
Firstly, why, and then how did you go about starting your own agency?
Anine: Branding always interested me, and I love people, so being able to study the science and mystery of consumer behavior and why people connect with certain brands seemed like such an obvious choice. I felt like I found the perfect job! I think the dream of running your own agency is or should be in every ambitious person’s subconscious. We were lucky enough to find each other having this dream at a similar time in our careers working at the same company for 2 years.
Becoming increasingly frustrated with the red tape of a large global agency we realized that clients had the same frustrations and wanted to establish a more personal relationship to get closer to the creative solution, and faster.
We felt that there was a gap and decided to create a place where we can form partnerships with our clients and be nimble in the way we approach the work. A place where the client becomes part of the solution, not the problem.
I’m a big believer in the collaborative process and try to involve the client as much as possible. My approach is direct, honest and brutal about getting things done.
What do you specialize in?
TWO.AM is in the business of building our clients’ brands and businesses. We believe in being channel agnostic; our strategic and creative thinking encompasses the full media spectrum to find the best creative. Our core services are broken up into three key areas – Strategy, Creative and Technology.
Is there a story behind the name?
Marco: Late at night not able to sleep I was thinking of this exciting new venture that we were about to embark on. With my mind racing, thinking of names, I turned over to check the clock and it read 2:00am.
Truly believing that great ideas don’t keep office hours and today’s consumers are “always on”, I thought the name TWO.AM stood for something that the agency could get behind. The fact that it has the initials of the two founding partners – A (Anine) M (Marco) – made it a perfect fit.
What have been the biggest challenges that come with starting an independent agency?
Trust. As a start-up you need to win over the big brand’s confidence that you can and will deliver great work. Thankfully we are finding that clients are drawn to smaller agencies that can provide a deeper relationship.
…Oh and don’t forget the admin of setting up.
What have been your highlights so far?
It’s been a massive privilege being able to choose the people you want to work with and building a team that has the same vision as you do.
Setting up our office space/studio has definitely been a highlight. Starting with a single desk in the beginning of January to having a full working studio has been an amazing process.
Signing your first big client contract – nothing beats the feeling!
How do you go about building a great team?
Talented staff attracts more talented staff. Our mission is to find the very best in the field of advertising but talent isn’t the only requirement. Culture and passion are huge driving factors in what we look for when hiring staff. If you want to make a life in this industry you have to love what you do and enjoy doing it.
Who is behind the design of your office space?
This is a team effort from both of us. Start-ups don’t often have the biggest budgets when it comes to office decor but with a single vision, a couple of favors, second-hand furniture pieces, and a lot of elbow grease we managed to get it done. Although it is a work-in-progress and we think it will still evolve as our agency does.
Is there anything you’re working on now that you can reveal?
We’re currently in the process of doing a complete rebrand for a client in the alcoholic beverages industry. More will be revealed soon…
What are your plans and hopes for 2014?
We are still in our growth phase, so we’re hoping to grow both staff and our client base but are very conscious of looking after the team that is onboard already, and doing the best work possible for our existing clients. We also want to grow with them in building their brands.
What else is important for the creative industry to know about you?
Although both founders come from a digital agency you will be seeing a lot of integrated work from us. And also that we are here to stay!
Where can people stay updated with your work?