Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 20th 2014 Contents Lonsdale Saatchi & Saatchi has
had to keep "reinventing" itself
over the last few decades to
remain relevant, says Ken Attale,
executive chairman of the com-
This comes as Lonsdale Saatchi & Saatchi
celebrates its 61st anniversary this year.
"The hallmark that has allowed us this
longevity is our ability to reinvent ourselves
from time to time and meet the market needs.
Most agencies in T&T are what you would
call, full-service agencies. They supply an
array of services from traditional advertising,
dabble in events and different areas of pro-
motion. But their principle business is that of
traditional advertising, radio, press and TV,"
he told the Business Guardian on Monday.
He said the company started as Caribbean
American Advertising Service Ltd in September
1953 and outlined the history.
"It was then bought out by the Canadian
company Pemberton Freeman Mathis & Milne
Caribbean Ltd. Then there was a merger
between Lonsdale Hans, which is English com-
pany with Pemberton Freeman Mathis around
1964 and the company became Lonsdale Hans
Freeman Milne Trinidad Ltd. Then we became
Lonsdale Advertising in March 1977. Then we
entered into an affiliate agreement with Saatchi
and Saatchi in June 1988 and became Lonsdale
Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Ltd."
Attale spoke to the Business Guardian at
his office, Herbert Street, St Clair.
He has been at the company since October
Some of its clients include Digicel, Pepsi,
Proctor and Gamble, Massy Stores and UTC.
In the state sector, Lonsdale Saatchi &
Saatchi works with companies like National
Gas Company (NGC), National Petroleum (NP)
and Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA).
Attale said that the advertising industry is
quickly changing because of the influence of
"There has been the disruption of the digital
world in marketing and communication. There
has been the impact of social media. In the
public relations arena, you would have had
days to think and wait for news to break. In
the digital world, you now have seconds to
react and respond. So your response mech-
anisms have to be largely different. Plus the
fact, a lot of the emerging markets consume
a lot of their entertainment online. They listen
to music when they want to, they read when
they want to, look at video. The modern con-
sumer wants to enter into a dialogue with his
market rather than be spoken down to in tra-
He said although not in the same way as
developed countries, digital media and its
transformation of the market is having an
impact in a smaller emerging market like T&T.
"It is happening more slowly in this part
of the world. Not as quickly as in other parts
in a more sophisticated and developed market
but it is becoming a medium that cannot be
He said the company had no other choice
but to develop its own digital division and
today about 20 to 25 per cent of its business
now comes from digital media.
"About three or four years ago, we decided
that the market needs were changing and that
we had to reinvent ourselves. So what we did
was to develop a division for digital capability
called IUGO, which is the Latin word "con-
We employed a number of young people
with that capacity and competence to deliver
digital media. By digital media, I mean man-
aging social content, developing Web sites and
managing all social media content like Facebook
and Twitter on behalf of clients."
Attale called the advertising industry
"It is true we have had to remain relevant
like any product or service and continue to
relaunch. A buzz word used today is all about
rebranding. It is alright to rebrand and dress
up your brand and make sure the verbal lan-
guage and visual language is appropriate and
"What is a brand? A brand is the experience
your customers have with you. So if it does
not hold to the brand promise that you are
making then all that communication goes to
nought. It is really the relationshipcustomers
have with you."
He added that there are about 16 advertising
companies in the Advertising Association of
"It is a crowded marketplace, apart from
the association there are many freelancers that
operate peripherally. So they are also com-
petitors. As a company, what we have done
is keep standards and keep raising the bar,"
He also spoke about how "results oriented"
the industry is.
"We believe in the passion and service that
we provide our clients with. We also produce
work that provide results for them. If we pro-
vide work that is creative and does not provide
results for our clients then it is irrelevant cre-
ativity. In the end, we are selling services and
convincing people about something. If we do
not have those results then what we have done
Lonsdale Saatchi & Saatchi employs 70 peo-
ple and he said this is indicative of the emphasis
they place on attracting and retaining talent.
"We keep employees happy. We make this
an environment where people want to be. We
create space so people can create. It is not
easy for people to create. So we have to win
the confidence of the client. Plus we have a
low turnover of staff. Our salaries are com-
petitive and I know this because we contribute
to the salary review of PricewaterHouse Coop-
He said companies believe that their adver-
tising budget is the easiest to cut in bad times.
"Why is this industry so volatile? It is so
because it is the easiest expenditure to cut in
a business. All it takes is a phone call. Employ-
ers do not have to negotiate with the trade
unions, they do not have to put machines into
mothballs or anything like that. How do you
survive in this environment?" he asked.
He called the post-2009 years "tough."
"The years 2009, 2010 and 2011 were tough
for us and the industry. That is when we decid-
ed to reorganise the business. We looked at
the structure, reduced costs to become more
lean and mean and became aggressive in new
business. In that period we got Digicel as a
new client, we won many project type busi-
nesses. We have had clients for over 30 years,
so our client retention has been exceptionally
high. In the meanwhile we continue to pitch
for new business."
In 2009 they moved out of their building
on Herbert Street, to Alcazar Street and by
2011 they had moved back to Herbert Street.
"We had lavish plans for this building on
Herbert Street and then the market collapsed.
So we then refurbished our building here on
Herbert Street and then moved back in. We
spent a few million dollars on the renovation
in 2011. We reduced our costs and got rid and
consolidate our debt."
He pointed out that 2015 is an election year
as general elections are constitutionally due
but noted that they do not engage in political
"The company has been premised on very
prudent management and stringent fiscal man-
agement. It will be an interesting year because
it is an election year. There is a phenomenon
that happens in the year that elections are
normally held. Business always tend to sit
back a bit to see what the outcome will be so
there is a lull before and after the elections."
On their revenue, he said the company con-
tinues to gain "modest growth."
"We had three difficult years but after 2011
we attained modest growth. But we have
clawed back and have had growth both in
terms of revenue and profit."
NOVEMBER 2014 • WEEK THREE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG5
Lonsdale Saatchi & Saatchi's now 61
Agency: Reinvent to stay relevant
Lonsdale Saatchi & Saatchi
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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