"No one wants a competitor to grab the bulk of their GL"

Process is repositioning itself and planning the future together with LSA agency SNK. Martin Kessler, Group Managing Partner of Process, answers questions from Werbewoche.ch.

The two agencies Process and SNK are merging. In mid-July, the SNK team will move to Process at Giesshübelstrasse in Zurich. Until the end of the year, both brands will remain in the market; in January 2020, the two agencies are to be merged (Werbewoche.ch reported). The marriage of the two LSA agencies is to result in the "strongest independent branding and design agency in Switzerland". At the same time, the departures of Markus Gut, Fabian Bertschinger and Martin Fawer to Farner Consulting were communicated. Werbewoche.ch asked Martin Kessler (pictured above), Group Managing Partner of Process and future Co-CEO of the merged agency, about the merger.


Werbewoche.ch: Martin Kessler, you communicated: "Process and SNK are merging". Is Process taking over SNK?

Martin Kessler: No. The two LSA agencies, Process and LSA, are joining forces as equal partners to shape their shared future.


Did Process consider other possible "wedding partners" than SNK?

The brand and communications agency sector is also undergoing fundamental change. The ongoing evaluation of potential partners is therefore part of the strategic management of an agency. We have already held in-depth discussions with a digital agency and once with a content agency.


Under what name will the two merged agencies operate in the future?

We simply don't know that yet. We will answer the question of under which brand we will launch in 2020 towards the end of the year in the same way as we do for our customers: on the basis of a solid analysis.  


Why is Process - apart from its size - stronger than before thanks to the merger with SNK?

If we want to handle the entire life cycle of a brand, we have to continuously expand our range of services. And this also requires the critical size if we want to be strong and competent partners for our customers.

Did the decision to merge come out of economic pressure or even economic hardship?

One trend of our time is certainly that the big agencies are getting bigger and bigger and the rest - the medium-sized and small agencies - are struggling to survive. This, of course, creates the economic pressure. And this pressure on the smaller agencies continues to increase as more and more large companies set up their own design and communications units. Yes, the economic pressure is there - but it's there for all agencies, especially the smaller, independent players in the market.


Using synergies often also means cutting staff. Are jobs at Process and SNK under threat?

Double occupancy in the office area challenges us. Otherwise, the opposite is true. Already at the start and in the weeks thereafter we expect further reinforcements of our team in Zurich.


In the future, you will lead the agency as Co-CEO together with Oscar Todeschini. What do you expect from the co-CEO model?

The fact that we manage the company together is an expression of respect and culture towards each other. Both teams are similar in size, so - especially during the merger phase - they should also be appropriately represented at the top management level. Then, of course, this co-model also takes into account the staffing: Oscar Todeschini and I have known each other for more than 30 years, we have also worked together directly and know how to get along with each other. This arrangement will apply at least until we can place the role of managing director in new and, above all, younger hands.


The timing of the communication of the merger coincided exactly with the announcement of the three departures by Markus Gut, Fabian Bertschinger and Martin Fawer to Farner together - pure coincidence?

We started talks about joining forces with SNK a long time ago. We have been working on the marriage announced today for many weeks and are now happy that we can also talk about it openly. At the time when the now decided departures of the three management board members became known, our merger was already on the home stretch. The fact that the two media releases were published at the same time is due much more to the open and professional communication between Farner and Process.


How much do the prominent departures hurt from Process' point of view?

Of course, no one wants a competitor - albeit a much larger one - to take over the bulk of their management. But that is business. However, these three departures are now a fact and are not up for discussion, so we do not want to comment on them publicly. Instead, we are now concentrating on our customer projects with renewed energy and enthusiasm. When good employees plan their own careers, we also take it as a compliment that we seem to succeed again and again in being the driving force for new things.


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