2009: The Year Quirk Grew Up

By Tim Shier on 2009/12/02

This time of the year tends to be focused on saving and shopping (groan) for Christmas presents, pushing to get work completed before the holidays and reflecting on the year passed (never mind the time spent trying to work out where all the time has gone). Pondering the latter, I thought I would share some on my reflections on the year that was 2009.

This year has been incredibly busy for the QuirkStations in Cape Town, Johannesburg and London. There were times when we weren’t sure that we’d make it, but we persevered and have gathered some rather impressive stats in the process (if we may say so ourselves):

  • 35 new Quirk eMarketing clients.
  • 29 new QuirkStars (across the 3 QuirkStations)
  • Approx 130 conferences, lectures and corporate education presentations.
  • Over 120 universities are now using our textbook, eMarketing: the essential guide to online marketing.
  • 300% increase in textbook downloads.
  • 294% growth in new BrandsEye accounts signups.
  • Over 1000% growth in Idea Bounty creatives.
  • GottaQuirk traffic is up by 75%.
  • 60% increase in newsletter subscribers.
  • 298% increase in traffic to Quirk.biz (over 156 000 visitors in November alone).
  • 117% increase in online conversation to 5546 individual mentions online to date.
  • 30 Google Analytics certified QuirkStars.
  • Top Technology 100 finalist.
  • 3 successful democratic presidential terms.
  • 2 Silver Pixels at The Bookmarks.
  • Rob won the award for The Greatest Contribution to Digital in 2009 at The Bookmarks.
  • Cape Town and London moved into new QuirkStations.

I thought it would be cool to break the above up into a timeline to make it a little easier to digest and to add some more of our 2009 highlights.

January 2009:

While most companies were slowly easing into the new year, Quirk was going full tilt. In January we hired Marius Nel, Maija Hansen and the super efficient Kathryn “Sharfie” Sharfman. We launched edition two of our eMarketing textbook, released a new version of SearchStatus and to top it all off, partnered with 3 new clients including the Indaba Hotel, Cadogan Clinic and the Unlimited Group – who later, with the support of BrandsEye and GottaQuirk, went on to take the world by storm with Winston and PigeonRace09.

We also began working on our Mobile Marketing textbook which has been released through our newsletter and will go into print in 2010.

February 2009:

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we hired 3 more QuirkStars, Daniel “Danny K” Kolossa, Ravi “Raviolli” Reddy and Emma “I wear what I want” Drummond.

This month also saw the relaunch of GottaQuirk with its fresh design. This saw an immediate traffic increase of 41.54%, an increase in page views by 64%, time on site by 31% and overall engagement up by over 100%.

We also partnered with 2 new clients, Symbiotics and Warner Bros. who we have since helped to launch 16 of their movies. We also distributed 2 updates to Quirk SearchStatus and began the rebranding process to align this free tool more closely with the Quirk brand. In this month recently engaged Sarah Manners lost her engagement ring and sent the office into a spin searching for it.

March 2009:

In what was to be the biggest month of the year, Quirk turned 10 years old and celebrated along-side 250 guests at the exquisite Lightbox venue. In this month we also partnered with several clients including Sun International, WWF, Shoulders of Giants, The Dreamfields Project and Air New Zealand. The Castle Lager brief also went live on Idea Bounty. Quirk hired the super awesome Leila Davies to join the Search Engine Marketing team. Towards the end of this month Sarah found her engagement ring after destroying two couches, dismantling a washing machine and shelling out for some psychic assistance – it was a moment of much celebration in the QuirkStation!

April 2009:

In April we hired 3 new team mates, Tim “Tabasco” Withers, Heidi “Snowgoose” Schneigansz and Emma "I'll run there" Carpenter partnered with Wireless G, MOO and the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation as clients. In April, we also held our first 3 day eMarketing course, in conjunction with Getsmarter. Rob and Sarah Blake presented to packed venues in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

May 2009:

May was a rather academic month for Quirk, with the launch of the Mobile Marketing 101 Series and the partnership with Business Day - Financial Mail as a client, the tone was set for great achievements. Quirk was also certified as a Google Analytics Authorised Consultancy making us the first agency in Africa to achieve this (and one of 100 in the world). With 30 QuirkStars now being Google Analytics Certified, we are fast getting to the point where the entire agency will not only understand the important of measurement but also have the necessary skills to perform it themselves. In this month Heidi Edelmuller became Mrs Ocker, we also found Darryn “Captain Awesome” Gosling’s true calling and put him hard to work.

June 2009:

Ah, June – what a month! After all the new business of March and April we found ourselves looking to yet again grow the team and to this end, we hired Bernice Leonard to add even more experience to the Client Service team, Jon Ratcliffe to help grow the UK office and Ruan Smit to add to the Creative team. We also partnered with an exciting new client, Virgin Atlantic.

July 2009:

The month before a move is always a little frantic. That said, we did manage to get the WWF brief live on Idea Bounty, partner with Teraco Data Environments as a Quirk client and hire a new eMarketing Studling, Debra “Dobby” Goldschmidt.

August 2009:

The day of the big move finally arrived and we all came in on a Saturday to lend a helping hand. It was a momentous day and a huge upgrade from our previous offices into the new and improved QuirkStation. Despite the fact that we were in move fever we still managed to put together and teach a course to the students of the Maharaji Institute in Johannesburg. We also hired Andrew “Quirkby” Kirkby and managed to get Scott Gray back to Quirk as Client Strategy Director from BMW, where he’d spent the last 4 years as their Interactive Marketing Manager.

September 2009:

September was the month of Idea Bounty with Unilever deciding to crowdsource the big idea for their next Peperami campaign. At the beginning of the month, Idea Bounty hit 5000 creatives and just 2 weeks later the number was up to 6500 – a trend which continued until it reached the now 10 000 creatives. In September we also welcomed new QuirkStars, Mari Basson and Mark Sherrington – founder of Added Value and first Marketing Director of SABMiller – who joined us our first Non Executive Chairman. The Creative team hit the Loeries looking for a little fun and inspiration.

October 2009:

After a hectic September, we yet again found ourselves needing to rapidly grow our staff component. In October we hired Jozi Stars, Gillian Stewart, Patrick Homan and Varaidzo Mubaiwa and welcomed Dianne Shelton and Ashley Lindsay to the Cape Town QuirkStation. We also gained a new client, SafariNow, and launched the Quirk Accreditation Exam – which provides both employers and employees with a means of benchmarking eMarketing knowledge.

November 2009:

Slowly tapering to the end of the year, November saw the launch the new Allan Gray Orbis Foundation website and brief on Idea Bounty and welcomed Werskmans as a client.

We also scooped 2 Silver Pixels in the Social Media category at The Bookmarks for our work on Idea Bounty and the Hogwarts Wizarding Class which we launched to promote Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Not to be outdone,our fearless ginger general – CEO, Rob Stokes – was honoured with the “Best individual contribution to digital in 2009” award at The Bookmarks. Also worth a mention, Sarah’s MinPin, Weed, turned 21 (in dog years) and got a princess castle for her birthday! A number of the stars took part in Movember with mixed reactions from the rest of us. 

Photo courtesy of Bizcommunity.com
Photo courtesy of Bizcommunity.com

All in all, it’s been a tremendously busy and successful year for Quirk. I’m looking forward to 2010 and the new challenges and successes we face and conquer.

To the fellow QuirkStars, partners and clients, I tip my hat to you – you are all AWESOME!