By Mark Tungate
Most advertising agencies look pretty much the same. There are informal touches like the pinball table and the kitchen, a few comfy sofas to sprawl around on, and a matrix of open plan offices and meeting rooms. It’s cool enough – but it could be anywhere.
When you enter Gyro Paris, however, you know you’re at Gyro. The graphic black-and-white décor is a brand signature, as are in-house descriptions like “shine”, for creativity, “think” for strategy and “hunt”, for new business. Sniff if you like, but agencies need USPs just as much as their clients do.
To my mind, Gyro’s USP has always been business-to-business: doing smart stuff for serious clients. But as we begin our conversation, Sébastien Zanini (executive creative director, above left) and Nathaël Duboc (general manager, above right) set me straight. Nathaël says: “Business-to-business is in our DNA, but here in Paris we prefer to think of it as ‘business to people’. The point is not to say to yourself that you’re communicating with a business decision maker, a sales director or the head of a company, but with a person. If you talk to the heart, the brain will follow.”
Even the toughest decision makers have a weakness for a good story, just like the rest of us. Hence Gyro’s insistence on work that it calls “humanly relevant”.
Summing up this approach is a recent campaign for Zeiss, which among other things makes glass for the lenses in your spectacles. Typically, as a consumer, you don’t choose who makes your lenses – you pick a stylish frame, and the optician chooses the lenses.
Gyro’s campaign focused (if you’ll excuse the pun) on the theme of “blue light”: the potentially damaging light emitted by our computers, phones and tablets. Zeiss makes lenses that combat this effect.
Sébastien says: “It was a B2C2B campaign – business to consumer to business. We took advantage of a consumer campaign to put the subject on the table and talk about product innovation. But the end target was the optician, who was made aware of a high-profile brand that already had a relationship with his customers, and which he could recommend.”
Gyro seems to have an ability to create emotion around products you didn’t think you cared about. School books, for instance. The agency’s ad about a sentient robot child who uses Oxford notebooks to learn a new skill is one of my favorites of the past couple of years.
“We don’t employ B2B experts as such,” says Sébastien, “but communication experts capable of exploiting insights that provoke emotions within the audience. After that it’s the precision in our choice of channels that enables us to reach very specific targets such as a B2B audience.”
POINT OF DEPARTURE
The agency has around 40 members of staff and sets great store by collaboration and team spirit. Nathaël says: “We practice internally the ‘human’ approach we’re always encouraging among our clients. There are always egos within a creative agency, but the landscape today is so complex that you have to work closely together, including with the clients.”
Sébastien agrees: “We recruit talents, but we’re not into the star system. It’s all about teamwork.” Another word the agency holds dear is “sincerity”, he continues. “Those who work at Gyro appreciate brands that have a real purpose. In fact, quite often our job with clients is to dig deep within their DNA to find their roots, their point of departure. In a way we play the role of therapist too – we listen to brands.”
Apart from Zeiss and Oxford, its clients include the French Ministry of Social Affairs, Health & Women’s Rights, dairy giant Danone and the cooperative Vivescia – in many ways a typical Gyro challenge as it specializes in grain production and processing. Recent wins include Saint-Gobain glass, chocolate maker De Neuville, the Employment Ministry, and the Midas chain of automotive service centers.
But the agency’s biggest news of the past 18 months was its acquisition by the Dentsu Aegis Network. With its roots in media buying and planning, Dentsu Aegis has expanded into digital marketing, experiential, consulting – and creative, thanks to its purchase of the agencies Isobar, McGarryBowen and of course Gyro itself.
At the time of writing, Gyro is about to shack up with the rest of the group in Dentsu’s offices, but Nathaël and Sébastien insist that a shared address doesn’t mean a diluted brand. “You don’t acquire a brand in order to dilute it,” Nathaël points out. “We’re a global network, with a distinct philosophy. When you come and visit us in the new offices you’re going to find the same color scheme, the same branding.”
On the other hand, Gyro now has access to Dentsu’s immense media and data resources, as well as the chance to collaborate with the other creative elements within the group. “It’s all about knowledge sharing,” says Nathaël. “We remain Gyro, but Gyro powered by Dentsu.”