Penna re-brand compounds fears that traditional recruitment advertising is dead
Following a recent internal review and consultation process, Penna is combining its two recruitment marketing brands – Penna Barkers and Penna TCS – into a single new entity, Penna Communications, with immediate effect.
Having acquired the assets of Barkers and TCS just over a year ago, Penna initially had no plans to merge what were still essentially two distinct brands, despite TCS having been bought by Barkers several years before the Penna acquisition. (In fact, Penna TCS was awarded the inaugural agency of the year award at the CIPD Recruitment Marketing Awards in July – ironically, just a day before the internal announcement of the merger.) But the UK’s straitened economic situation – not least the swingeing public-sector cuts, given that the COI was Penna’s biggest client – suggested that the time was right to review this and move forward with a new, single, distinctive brand.
"The aim is really to bring together all the best bits of both businesses," Penna Communications MD Anne Riley told recruitment communications information portal, Ri5. "To succeed in today’s fast-changing market organisations have to be nimble and agile, and this is what we now are. It’s a great opportunity to involve everyone in the business in the creation of a new corporate culture. It’s also an easier proposition for the market. Going forward, we want to build something new and exciting. We have fantastic digital expertise together with multi-award-winning creative capability. And we want everyone in the business to think innovatively and creatively in the drive to deliver memorable communications for our clients." (A new internal bi-monthly innovation award is designed to encourage this process.)
It’s no accident that the agency’s new title doesn’t feature the word ‘recruitment’. While this obviously remains a core area of capability, the more inclusive label is intended to imply maximum flexibility to respond to any kind of challenge that clients may pose. "Because we’re part of Penna plc, we’re well placed to provide really insightful, comprehensive solutions for our clients," says Anne. "And greater collaboration across Penna will be a key focus for us going forward."
The new Penna Communications leadership team will see four senior directors reporting into Anne as MD. Andrew Soane, Mike Burgneay and Brian Cernuschi retain their sales & marketing, client service and commercial briefs respectively, while Tim Salmon – previously MD of Penna TCS – becomes delivery director, responsible for planning, creative, digital and media output. Apart from this there are no other changes to Penna’s regional network, which continues to comprise offices in Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol and Edinburgh, or to the wider plc’s four service groups (announced last November).
In operational terms the two brands had already started to collaborate more closely earlier this year, with a joint new business function introduced in April and the relocation of the previously Slough-based transactional team to Penna’s gleaming new Fleet Place headquarters. The recent slimming-down process was achieved largely through voluntary redundancies, and Anne says that everyone’s now up for the new challenge internally, while clients have also been extremely understanding and supportive throughout. "Everyone sees the logic of this," she says. "People know it’s the right thing to be doing at this time."
So is this really the end of recruitment advertising, or just the beginning?
What do you make of Penna’s re-brand?