A DIGITAL agency which is helping to popularise premium Scotch whisky in Africa is opening an office in Edinburgh after seeing a key contract extended.
Pilot Fish Media expects to take on staff both here and in new markets after a deal to promote Edrington Group’s whiskies in six countries was extended. The firm was set up by online entrepreneur Stephen Gorman after another of his companies – search engine optimisation specialist Push Digital – was tasked with finding an agency in Africa for Edrington.
Gorman, who was born and grew up in South Africa, realised that he was as well placed for the job as anyone and set up Pilot Fish Media with his business partner Adam Gray. The pair took on an initial contract to carry out social media campaigns for brands such as the Macallan and Famous Grouse.
The company has since picked up several more clients, and now Edrington has extended its remit to both Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
“We have quadrupled in size over the last eight or nine months,” Gorman said. “What we do is very niche, so we are opening in other territories.”
As it seeks to continue growing its client list, Pilot Fish is looking at sites for an office in Edinburgh and expects to take on another four or five staff initially. The firm has other emerging markets in its sights – Gorman says Brazil is top of marketing departments’ target lists because of the excitement surrounding the upcoming 2016 Olympics.
He needs just one or two employees to run a campaign in a country or even a continent, and often they can initially work from home. Indeed, he and Gray have turned down offers of financial backing for the company.
But Africa remains a key niche for Pilot Fish. The advent of relatively inexpensive smartphones has allowed the continent to leapfrog 20 years’ worth of evolution in the digital marketplace.
In the Nigerian capital Lagos, it is a running joke that businessmen now carry two phones, so that they can browse while the other is glued to their ear. Of course, there are still problems – Gorman points to issues as diverse as corruption, violent economic cycles and power cuts.
But he added: “It’s that sort of thing that’s always going to make Africa a difficult place to work, but at the same time the mobile phone penetration rate is second to none, the middle class is really growing and there is money to be made.”
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