Although Brisbane-based independent agency Pivotus is best known for its digital skills, the agency started in old media.
In 2008 founder Michael Petersen (pictured) bought the representation business Jane Fewings Media (JFMedia) that dates back to 1979. Petersen’s wife Kate worked for Fewings, eventually becoming a shareholder and director after Fewings sadly passed away from cancer.
After spending time in the recruitment industry, Petersen bought JFMedia from Fewings’ husband who was then running the business.
Petersen then ran the repping business with The West Australian and Fairfax as its core clients. In 2012 he launched the JFMedia Digital brand as he watched the growth of digital ad spend, eventually moving into programmatic and offering a service to independent media buyers in Brisbane.
Working remotely is nothing new to Petersen and his team. Several years ago he spent 18 months in Europe running the business from there. “My staff have been working from home when since we shut down our office at the end of 2014,” he explained to Mediaweek.
He then launched the brand My Media Trading Desk with the aim of streamlining digital marketing with a centralised spend covering programmatic, social, native, paid search and more. “We started working with creative agencies because they tend to give you more access to the client, giving you more control and ability to influence meaning greater success for advertisers.”
The business model these days is partnering with creative agencies and winning accounts directly. Current retained clients include University of Tasmania, commercial real estate firm JLL and human capital assessment business, Revelian.
Petersen utilised one of his creative agency partners to rebrand the business as Pivotus 12 months ago and has since become a member of the Independent Media Agencies of Australia (IMAA).
Although the agency has been impacted by Covid-related slowdowns, Petersen said: “We didn’t have any travel or entertainment clients as we are more active in the B2B space and now the University sector. Media spend did drop from some clients, but we were encouraged by all retainer clients keeping to their existing agreement. We have been running live training sessions and I have an educational portal where I host digital advertising training videos.”
An indication of how the business is performing is that Pivotus has added five new roles in the past two months.
With the addition of the new Tasmanian client, Petersen estimates their revenue will now be split equally between Queensland, Tasmania and elsewhere.
While planning for growth, Petersen wants to still be referred to as a boutique business. “We like being thought of still being boutique because it goes with our more personalised service offering. Growth is definitely on the cards though.”
He says the Pivotus promise to clients is “absolute honesty and superior customer service”. He added: “It is hard to grow too quickly and keep those two things in check. We are closing the books a little bit at the moment as we onboard University of Tasmania.”
Petersen said the business is anticipating a big 2021 after hiring some great new talent. “We have secured the former MD of Mediacom Vietnam, Lam Le, who joins this week and will be based in Hobart serving the University of Tasmania account which is led by account director Audrey Fitte-Umark, who has previously with Havas and Admatic.”