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Interview with Martin Simcock, Enigma founder

Following the news that Enigma has been acquired by JUST, David Rowlands caught up with Enigma founder Martin Simcock to discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for newly-formed Just Global.

The news that Enigma has been acquired by JUST came as quite a surprise! What are you hoping the newly-formed Just Global will be able to offer its clients?

It’s no surprise to us! Over the past few years, we’ve opened offices in Australia and Singapore and we always knew that our international ambitions required us to have a greater presence in the US – and the deal with JUST means that we can fast-track that ambition. We’ve known JUST since they started in 1995 and we’ve collaborated on many client projects over the years. At the start of this year, Brandon [Friesen, Just CEO] and I were having a conversation about working more closely together and we both quickly concluded that a formal tie-up made sense for both parties.

What Just Global offers to our clients is a frictionless service experience with customer teams of account, media, creative, platforms and analytics specialists working together as one symbiotic group to deliver insight-driven, full-service brand-to-demand strategies. Furthermore, with media, insights and creative underpinned by data, regional experts at Just Global can optimise global business outcomes for brands across markets.

What will Enigma bring to the table specifically?

In a nutshell, we bring to the table capabilities that JUST don’t currently have – and vice versa. The symbiotic nature of our skills and the remarkable lack of overlap is core to the logic of the deal. Specifically, Enigma brings global reach with offices in Europe and APAC. Secondly, we have one-to-one/few ABM capabilities that complement the more programmatic approach of JUST. We have a well-established creative capability – spanning brand, design, content and video – and an understanding of how to embed insight into creativity to not only gain awareness, but to change behaviours. And our focus on lead generation is a good fit for the media-driven brand awareness skills of JUST.

And what about JUST?

JUST have huge experience and expertise in media and new emerging channels like programmatic and intent data that allow our clients to take their messages to market – something Enigma has always delivered via partnerships rather than in-house. They also have advanced social, search and data analytics capabilities that will massively enhance the new company’s ability to provide clients with data-driven insights. What’s more, JUST is located in the heart of North America’s technology centres of Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas; and the agency and its staff are certificated and highly trained premiere digital partners to the many technology platforms that power marketing performance.

In the press release, Just Global CEO Brandon Friesen said: “We purpose-built Just Global to power the brands impacting the global digital transformation taking place.” How will Just Global do this?

Our customers shape global economies. The scale of their impact cannot be understated. These companies need an agency partner that can deliver on their brand’s promise to positively impact the everyday lives of global citizens. They need a partner to provide data-driven insights into markets and industry trends. They need a partner that can deliver across the spectrum of marketing services in truly inventive and authentic ways to address the many facets of their business. Just Global was built to do all of the above, acting as a single cohesive, worldwide team to activate relationships with people.

In a year’s time, what are you hoping to have achieved?

The promise of Just Global lies in the joining together of two distinct capability sets: the logic of doing so is to provide our customers with a comprehensive range of marketing services with a frictionless service experience that helps to grow their brand and revenues – and to provide our employees with a stimulating work environment with almost limitless possibilities to develop and advance.

By the end of next year, I’d hope to have most of our clients benefitting from the integration of services from what were different companies only a few days ago – and for this to be delivering concrete business outcomes for all of them. And for what today are centres of excellence located within one office to become a distributed capability across all offices with every employee able to apply their talents to making a difference to their clients’ success.  

What’s the number one challenge Just Global is facing in the short-term?

Growth – for our clients and for ourselves – is at the heart of the tie-up with JUST. But there is a sense of, “Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true!”. We have enormous opportunities across each of the markets in which we operate – and the number one challenge for us is to ensure that we can scale the business to keep up with the demand that we can see in front of us. This would be challenging under normal circumstances, but with the global lockdown – which obviously limits travel and face-to-face engagement with current and future colleagues – that’s even more difficult. Having said all that, it’s obviously a nice problem to have, but not one that we underestimate.

And what about in the long-term?

Both Enigma and JUST pride ourselves on being very ‘people-first’ cultures – and that’s absolutely core to the DNA of Just Global. That’s one of the reasons why we have client relationships that go back decades, with clients bringing us with them as their career progresses.

We want to retain the intimacy of a local organisation, even as we embrace the opportunities of becoming a global powerhouse. And that’s not going to be easy, particularly in our locked-down world. I think the fact that we will remain an independent company – and not driven wholly by short-term financial targets – means that we can continue to invest into our people, whether that’s enabling community involvement or finding innovative ways for remote employees to still feel connected to the ‘mother ship’. But our culture is something we need to cherish – no matter how much we change.

And last, but not least, what most excites you about the launch of Just Global?

When John [Langstone, co-founder] and I started Enigma, it was a design shop in a pre-Internet age. As the digital economy has grown, we grew with it: it became clear that a global stage was being created before us, and we wanted to be a player on that stage. The creation of Just Global is, in many ways, the fulfilment of that ambition. But it’s the start of something, rather than the end of something. The opportunities are clear, the capabilities are there; and we need to be focused on applying our skills to help our clients grow. This is the next stage in a fascinating journey – and I can’t wait to see how that turns out.

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