7th April 2021

Elevator Agency has announced that it is partnering with the global Intermarketing Agency (IMA) and will rebrand, becoming the South African chapter of IMA as of April 2021.

They will join the IMA global network of creators headquartered in Leeds (UK) with offices in London, Manchester, New York, Amsterdam, Munich and Sydney. IMA forms part of their broader Smollan Group family through the joint venture in Europe, Advantage Smollan.

Since being acquired by the Smollan Group in 2017, Elevator has transformed from an experiential agency into a truly through-the-line offering. The agency will remain owned by Smollan, running as a stand-alone marketing solution.

The relationship is structured as a partnership, not an acquisition (due to the Advantage Smollan relationship), which means they are keeping the same local leadership team and IMA Global have given them full control to run the South African branch of IMA their way.

“I am excited that we can expand IMA’s global network through Elevator,” says Smollan Group CEO Dave Smollan. “This will enable us to extend our global coverage of IMA, utilise its extensive skills and capabilities, and leverage the local expertise and talent of Elevator.”

“We have admired the Elevator business in South Africa for a number of years and have been in conversation with them for a while about how we can support the rebranding of Elevator into IMA is a part of our collective growth ambitions,” says Steve Sowden, Chief Operations Officer at IMA Global. “This transformation feels like a natural next step in the evolution of both our businesses and will support the opening of our new and untapped markets to support our clients wherever and whenever they need us to be.”

Elevator’s Managing Partner Katherine Freemantle says that the partnership is an amazing opportunity for her team and for the agency. “It opens the agency’s exposure to new and exciting global clients, and mentorship opportunities from the IMA network.”

She adds that the agencies’ synergy in positioning, values and vision is uncanny. “We, much like IMA Global, focus on the ‘Work That Works’ and believe in building creative solutions around a brand’s objectives and its consumers and not around a specific channel. As businesses, we have been compatible from day one and the rebrand affords an amazing opportunity for expansion for both brands. We also saw that the transition would allow us to really sharpen our key focus areas in terms of skills, insights and capabilities, and truly tap into IMA’s ethos of thinking ‘longer, not just bigger’ to ensure that we execute sustainable ideas that don’t just last – they live.”

“Being part of a global network means we can leverage IMA’s vast global knowledge, experience and skills in retail, content, digital & experiential and we will utilise those global learnings and innovations for our existing and new clients,” says Elevator’s Managing Partner, Catherine Mavrocoleas.

She says that while IMA brings global knowledge and innovations to the table, Elevator has the local creative capabilities, coupled with an agile and effective way of working and Smollan has the retail execution skills. “Together we feel we can provide the South African market with a truly end-to-end service that no other agency can.”