Joe Macgregor, is client services director at new event production
agency Sprout, which was formed from Marcom and is now part of the
Konftel Group. He tells Mike Fletcher about the importance of building
strong client relationships and how he plans to win blue-chip
Sprout client services director Joe Macgregor is on rabbit watch after
the event production company, which was born out of Marcom Presentation
Services, re-located to the estate of a 16th century stately home in
Sunnydale, near Ascot in Berkshire.
"That's Kenneth Branagh's house in the distance. We're also neighbours
with a couple of oil sheikhs," he says. "I get a bit over excited about
spotting rabbits. There have even been sightings of deer."
Sprout is part of Impact Europe, the audio-visual and IT arm of the
Konftel Group. It launched on 2 April and moved into the parental home
after Knoftel bought Marcom (Marketing Event, May). Sprout has now been
placed on a roster of preferred agencies by Barclays Bank and will be
invited to pitch for business.
"Barclays is a big result for us. We have been given approved status and
it is up to us to get the work," Macgregor says. "The creation of Sprout
recognises a need to respond to changing industry trends and client
The name reflects the essence of an imaginative, dynamic team that
understands experiences, brand values and live communications - all of
which are more than simply supplying and coordinating kit for big
events. We've broken away as an independent creative agency, although
Marcom will still provide us with our hardware infrastructure."
Macgregor's background is in advertising, having spent 12 years in
client services for Saatchi & Saatchi. "I joined as a graduate trainee
after a four-year stint at a Texas university on a tennis scholarship. I
was lucky enough to be put on the British Airways (BA) account at
It's the agency's biggest account and probably the best one to learn
from," he says. "I became involved with BA's events and sponsorship
activity and discovered Marcom towards the end of my time at the agency.
I needed to source equipment for two brand launches and I had no idea
where to look."
In June 1999, Macgregor joined Marcom to improve its client
He helped set up an events arm that was responsible for the Persil Non
Bio Love your skin Roadshow, the UK and European launch of the Honda
Civic and the extensive pan-European training programme for Deloitte
After the launch of Sprout, the team staged this year's Regional Press
Awards in July, a lunchtime event with 500 guests at London's Hilton
Hotel for Quantum Publishing.
"Many of our clients have been generated in the past year and a half and
all have been supportive of the change. When we told them the name we
expected many questions but they all got it straight away and conceded
it fits well with what we do," Macgregor says. "Client relationships are
very important to us and they all seem keen to see us grow and develop
as a successful production firm.
"We are pushing for clients to get us involved earlier so we get to know
the brand. We want to give clients the confidence to bring an event
production company into strategic meetings and discuss the brand rather
than just equipment and staging. The final experience needs to have
synergy with the overall brand so that it doesn't appear to be bolted
Greater involvement in a client's brand message does not mean Sprout is
offering the complete communication solution. Macgregor is keen to point
out that Sprout concentrates on staging live events such as roadshows,
awards and product launches.
"We are not in the business of competing with a client's direct mail
company or its ad agency, sales promotion agency and new media
department," he says. "We need to concentrate on the bit we do well and
we have been very specific when we meet potential new business. There
are many opportunities in the market ranging from staging and technical
to creative solutions, which is where we position ourselves."
Sprout is targeting blue-chip business, but with a limited number of
briefs being chased by a raft of good agencies, Macgregor will have to
work hard to ensure Sprout is successful.
"Our new location offers good potential and a good local client
Hopefully, companies will want to come and see us in these beautiful
surroundings and we have a nine-strong team with a proven track record
which is not afraid to go for the bigger budget projects," says
Macgregor. "Who knows, if things go well we can broaden the offer and
eventually open Sprout's international headquarters in Brussels."
- Sprout launched on April 2, 2001
- Sprout is jointly managed by client services director Joe Macgregor
and production director James Marchant
- A staff of nine is aided by an extensive freelance base
- Clients include CPM/Lever Faberge, Deloitte Consulting and Honda
- Parent company Konftel specialises in the design and integration of
video-conferencing, audio-visual and IT solutions