1. I who at the start of the 90s was but a junior Product Manager, and my colleague, who is a Global Brand Director, are already familiar with your TELOS agency. It struck us with the metaphor of the kite (advertising) and the string (marketing)… But since then we have had no more news. And now here you are again on the market. Why did you – if I am not mistaken – disappear?
You are right: we did disappear from the markets, but TELOS is not dead. The agency continued to survive by producing positioning, corporate advertising, websites and promotional actions for the companies of the EUROLOGOS Group, of which it is the in-house subsidiary.
The truth is that our parent company, after having committed the error of launching us as an agency located in a single country, quickly regretted this and assisted in the finalisation of our first actions for clients and withdrew our influence from the markets after a few months.
Why? The reason for this voluntary withdrawal was that in 1992-93 it was already becoming evident that communication companies could only have a true raison d’être if they were multinationalised. The Internet was starting to take off.
As the target markets were becoming increasingly international and multilingual, agencies owed it to themselves to be “glocal”, i.e. global and local at the same time. For how is it possible to produce global and well adapted advertising – market after market – with a single office in just one country?
To reposition itself on the markets, TELOS has also waited for its group, EUROLOGOS, to be globalized or (to use the most pertinent Californian neologism) glocalized.
2. What is the link between the current trend in the advertising supply market (agencies), involving reintegrating all multimedia activities, and your positioning which can be summed up in the tag line “TELOS is a glocal agency”?
We watched from the window, if we can say that, this curious movement of “subsidiarisation”, often little justified, which affected a lot of agencies, especially large and even international agencies.
We are convinced that an agency – even one that is highly structured and fleshed out – must always keep in mind this eternally craftsman-like idea of communication. The fact that there is currently a switch back to the integration of all services into the agency which is decompartmentalising the separations constructed with the numerous specialist subsidiary agencies of the past decade, cannot fail to give us cause for joy. Not only for the reason that our agencies present in our international EUROLOGOS network are necessarily small.
We think that even a large agency must remain “small” in its intimate professional operation.
3. like your advertising concept because it shows imagination (the metaphor of marketing which steers the kite of advertising). But how are we supposed to believe you when you talk of the possibility of cheap advertising?
For some considerable time, since 2007 and even earlier, the copious budgets for communication actions will be nothing more than a memory of fat cows.
We have become used to the idea that advertising, whether above or below the line, must above all be effective: the glamour effects (often unnecessarily expensive) must be subordinated to the necessities of economic constraints.
Modesty. Or, better still, humility!
People of today are not naïve: they generally know well enough from experience the value of things and of their advertising. We readily see them with calculator in hand…
But advertising must return to its effectiveness: it must convince and not amuse at all costs.
Sure, sometimes effectiveness can be combined with luxury; but this is for specific products and always in a well limited way.
Naturally you cannot advertise a perfume in the same way as a tractor.
4. You yourself admit that you are a small company whilst presenting yourself as a multinational in communication activities. How can we trust you with such an evident contradiction?
The EUROLOGOS Group, to which TELOS belongs as a 100% subsidiary, has for fifteen years now been pursuing its development as a small Brussels company that has become multinational mainly through the method of franchising. Currently we have around twenty offices on four continents (our most recent agency was opened in Shanghai in 2008 – as a subsidiary).
And this process continues as a communication agency in this era of globalization must be multinationalised: as many offices as advertising languages promised to clients.
The nature of the era of globalization and that of the current crisis referred to as financial is increasingly resulting in small companies becoming globalized. This besides, and sometimes in place of, the large companies.
Trusting a small “glocal” company that relies solely on its own means?
It’s certainly more reliable than placing one’s trust in certain large organisations that have terrified the whole world with their insolvencies…
5. The fact that the second EUROLOGOS Group subsidiary is Littera Graphis, a website and printing company, attracted us right away: modern advertising cannot do without the Internet. But how does this take place?
Our sister company Littera Graphis has seen to the domain of the Internet, developing websites up to Web 2.0 and PHP, and it has been preparing e-Commerce structures and online catalogues since the start of the 90s.
TELOS at once understood that the new conception of advertising had to integrate all World Wide Web functions.
We work side-by-side with the webmasters and developers of our offices. IT, even highly developed and up to date, is a domain with which we are familiar.
It is for this reason that our advertising activities are truly modern.
We ourselves, in the development of a positioning, campaign or action, think about the breaking down of communication resources over several supports.
6. What is the true measure of good advertising?
On this issue there are many very different opinions, both among advertising professionals and clients.
This is only natural, above all when you consider that in modern communication we speak only of the art, and not of the science, of communicating.
At TELOS in any case, we are convinced that it is the level of marketing knowledge that gives the measure of true advertising expertise.
Taking up again the metaphor of our advertising image, it is the string of marketing that directs good advertising, that of the kite which traces its twists and turns in the sky that is always the blue of the eyes of the consumer or client.
Consider a large number of adverts that we see every day. How many of them are truly attached to a well stated marketing strategy?
7. We in our company had never thought about it in depth. We thought that an exclusively local advertising agency had additional assets by comparison to an international agency. And then both our export markets and your discourse on what you call “glocalization” led us to consider this aspect of the multinationalisation of advertising agencies…
We managed to arrive at this concept of the multi-localization of our offices above all thanks to our parent company Eurologos, the multilingual services company which was the first to glocalize (as Californians say, who invented the word in the 1990s).
How is it possible to produce a quality translation if you do not have as many offices as languages promised to clients?
For conception and profound adaptation in advertising, the TELOS teams need to be located “where the languages are spoken”.
How is it possible to think up a slogan, copywriting or an article without an in-depth knowledge of the culture, common practices, taboos and “failings” of the target populations living in the geomarketing markets?
8. But how, in practice, does TELOS go about things when a medium-sized company or a rather small one like our own has to reposition everything and reorganise all its communication?
In today’s world, each and every company has to call itself into question, just as you are.
The data and mechanisms of the international economy are undergoing radical change and the functioning methods of the past must be defined as such.
On our website and in our presentation documents we deploy our methods of contacts, meetings, surveys and interlocutory relations.
In fact every company, institution and organisation presents its own case which is always specific: this is the case of the one-to-one principle.
We have a method that we have summed up in an analysis of eight points, also described in our brochures and on our website. But it is the interaction with the client and their operational teams that finally determines our concrete approach.
Without therefore being dogmatic in our analyses, we renew our quest for an evaluation of the problems and well ordered solutions.
In short, we place everything in a general recommendation which we submit to the client in order for them to debrief us on all points.
We swiftly arrive at an action plan, ranging from the most strategic to the most immediate.
9. You say that without a globalized structure of offices, an advertising agency cannot truly conceive global adverts. But are you sure about this?
We will answer by asking another question.
“How can an agency located in a single country create or adapt communication concepts for plurilingual and globalized markets?”
The question is clearly a rhetorical one. Indeed, all production is delocalizable, except for cultural production. The one-dimensional agencies through their location in a single country are fatally destined to remain “mailboxes”, in the same way as translation companies also monolocalized in one (or two) languages.
These agencies are structurally devoid of the means to think up, draft and validate several multilingual concepts.
Advertising relevance goes into the fine details, a technical or geostylistic term.
It is therefore not enough to be globalized, i.e. to have a global dimension (which moreover is not easy), but there is a real need to count on other agencies of the group located in the other countries.
The designer-copywriters must live in their own target culture.
This is to ensure that they do not come up with concepts or texts that are in contrast with local cultures, of which only writers living on location are supposed to have an in-depth knowledge.
There is moreover no need to demonstrate the unavoidable necessity of adapting concepts and texts thought up in one country to modulate them to the various target geomarketing markets.
10. What is the expertise of advertising techniques at TELOS?
Today, we cannot envisage producing advertising without using Internet techniques, even for a small company.
From e-business, multilingual sites and even client/consumer forums to online catalogues, these are the formats that our staff master on a daily basis.
In addition, they are the very thread of computerisation which has revolutionised our era for more than fifteen years.
One of the slogans of the Eurologos group of which TELOS is a subsidiary is that the present and the future belong to the mini media. And even to secret Intranets.
Often it is absurd to use only traditional supports such as printing, posters, press advertisements and radio-televisual media.
The Internet and its tools are occupying a more important place than is often thought.
TELOS knows this.
11.What does the word “versatility” – which for you is an obsession – mean to you?
Good advertising, as we know, is designed to last for a long time.
However, there is a need for it to often renew itself, whilst giving a slight impression of déjà vu.
In other words, it has to be very simple (for it to be perceived immediately) and highly conceptual (for it to be easily recognised as a sort of episode of a saga).
Images, words and sequences that renew themselves in a story that is forever repeating itself. The strength of advertising is (renewed) repetition.
Versatility is therefore dependent on identity. This apparent paradox between the traditional and the new envelops all communication and its strategy.
To use a musical metaphor, we can say that the genius of Beethoven is contained in the (33!) Variations of Diabelli: in the 1820s, around fifty composers took it upon themselves to “produce” variations on one theme, a short waltz, by Anton Diabelli… At the time there were naturally no advertising agencies, but the exercising of versatility was already well known.
Today the more products, services and competitiveness there are, the greater the need to identify a possible versatility over time and in form.
Did you say “obsession”? We would rather see it as a “guiding principle”.
12. You state and repeat that your “integration” into our company teams is not putting the case too strongly. But, in so doing, you dilute and offload your responsibilities.
This is a danger that must not be neglected. The risk is to fall back on conservative positions and stereotypes that do however circulate within the company and often prevent it from taking off.
But the external and critical action of the agency cannot run the risk of situating itself in an abstract dimension either.
Looking at the stars too much and getting bogged down in the paralysing mud of prejudices: in a word, idealism. We have to, as we often repeat, look beyond the kites with feet firmly planted within the company or institution.
The role of a modern advertising agency is played out in this double dimension.
How do you hope to be competitive with your small size, even if you are multinationalised, when faced with the giants of communication?
Global communication is set to radically change. It has already been profoundly revolutionised by globalization and the Internet. Moreover, all prestigious studies (such as that by IBM) describe it in detail, showing how the old breed of advertising is being replaced by new supports, methods, ranges of choices and players.
The targets and clients – above all in the wake of the economic crises (in the plural) – have already changed. All-out innovation constitutes the key word of our era.
Why should TELOS, a company that dared to interrupt its activities due to the fact that it could no longer tolerate being monolocalized in a globalized and multinationalised world, not have a place on “glocalized” (globalized yet localized at the same time) markets when a whole host of exclusively local agencies have already had to shut down and will certainly have to shut down or change over the next few years?
14. Despite the consequences of globalization, the majority of activities remain local or national with limited markets. Your international aspect, that of a glocalized agency as you call it, is not sufficient to penetrate such a complex market.
The difficulty in selling what is called the “advertising inventory” and micro-segmentation in marketing, i.e. the two current great problems faced by all the world’s agencies in 2009, depends on innovation in the marketing approach and in the infrastructures of new agencies: both must change radically.
But this innovation is directly dependent on changes already carried out by the demand markets themselves. It is no longer a question of competitive developments produced by agencies; everyone is now agreed on this.
The so-called financial crisis makes this reality clear: we need new players on the communication market. And naturally even the old players will have to and will be able to develop (lots of agencies are already doing this).
Why not TELOS, which already has its international infrastructure with its multilingual offices on four continents?
Plus when was the historical period in which the creation of new companies had to stop?
True entrepreneurial passion will never stop. TELOS is convinced of this.
All the more so as it is an advertising agency that was created in 1992-93 and has continued to act not far from the various international markets ever since.
On what do you base payment for your services?
This is obviously a question that brings into play all our competitiveness.
Traditional payment of agencies takes place via (and is founded on) the fateful commission of 15% of the total cost of advertising media.
Another payment system is that of custom work, i.e. where invoices are based on the number of hours the agency has worked to provide its services.
There is another method, that of commission on increase in turnover as of the time the advertising agency enters the fray. In truth, this method was applied by agencies (often monolocalized) who were attempting an “advertising cash-in” so as to vaunt their supposed good performances. And mainly to try to hide their structural inadequacy vis-à-vis the needs of multilingualism and internationalised multilocalization of the agency.
For some considerable time, these three methods have not been to the client’s advantage. They are therefore not competitive for the supplier either.
The first method (that of the 15 %) is completely inadequate as it supposes communication exclusively – or almost exclusively – based on above the line formats, i.e. the traditional methods of press, television, cinema, radio and posters.
In our world where quite often below the line advertising becomes predominant (without counting the Internet medium), this method risks leading the agency to abusively favour these media at the expense of others…
The second payment method, the “custom work” formula, is at once subjective and defies all forecasts: how many hours?
The client will never know in advance!
The third method is, it goes without saying, arbitrary and random. All the more so since the complexity of sales arguments, the multiple marketing factors of which total mastery escapes agencies (and often clients) structurally, the very swift obsolescence of products vis-à-vis technological developments and many other reasons renders commission on increase in turnover non-configurable and continually suspect (on the part of the agency and the client).
TELOS payment: a prior all-in offer.
With the presentation of the “Recommendations”, or just after the debriefing on the part of the client, a highly detailed quote is submitted to the client who, before approving it, has the time to check and evaluate everything at their liberty. Naturally any changes, always possible during the progress of the work, fall outside of the fixed quote. In such cases, this quote will be accompanied by subsequent modifications which the client can always control in advance.
In any event, as advertising – or rather globalized communication – is in a state of total modification, TELOS remains open to any other proposals. And there is no reason to suppose that we won’t prove innovative, even when it comes to payment method.