HAPPY FRIDAY TAKES HOME PRESTIGIOUS ADVERTISING AWARD Industry recognition follows the success of reinvention

HAPPY FRIDAY TAKES HOME PRESTIGIOUS ADVERTISING AWARD Industry recognition follows the success of reinvention
Janine Kruger Group CEO and Craig Naicker Co-CEO at Happy Friday

Through the line communications agency, Happy Friday, has seen their unbelievable turnaround story recognised with a victory at the annual AdFocus Awards. The agency took home the Adaptability Award after reinventing and rebranding as Happy Friday in September 2021, when struggling with low morale and mental health problems during the pandemic.

The prestigious Financial Mail AdFocus Awards has been recognising achievers and achievements in the South African marketing and communications landscape since 1990 and is noted for issuing awards not just for creative and marketing skills but for their all-around business acumen.

An undoubtedly deserving winner of the Adaptability Award, judges were quick to talk to the merits of the company with their official summary saying, “Happy Friday is an incredible example of adaptability, not just in policy, but in the overall structure and business model”. The Jury rewarded Happy Friday for not just being another business that pivoted in response to Covid, but for being one whose pivot shaped the entire venture for the future.

Happy Friday’s Co-CEO, Craig Naicker, has long been quoted as saying, “You are only able to grow a sustainable business when you take care of the people within it” and demonstrated his adherence to that value when he effusively thanked creative consultant and partner through the reinvention, Ahmed Tilly, “for his direction and contribution in the change and evolution of the agency”.

Formerly CWDi, like all businesses during that time, the agency needed new income streams. It also recognised a desire to make a positive change for the staff. The first step was to diversify its services and approach.

Once a below the line and eventing firm, the newly named Happy Friday broke into the through-the-line space by billing clients at risk. They would work for a reduced rate while proving themselves and then be paid bonuses or shortfalls on the work delivered.
This skin-in-the-game model, as they called it, allowed them to become an extension of their client’s businesses; everyone rose or potentially fell together.

But this was just the beginning. Happy Friday turned their focus to work/life balance in an industry where employees are often notoriously overworked. Believing happy people make happy work, the agency switched its approach to be focused on employee mental health rather than deadlines. Working together with their staff, they came up with a list of 15 benefits that became company policy. These included 25 leave days a year, four and a half day working weeks, support for side hustles, no work communications after six PM and many more. And it worked!

Between July 2021 and June 2022, Happy Friday on-boarded Lenovo, iPay, Kohler, Liberty, IG Markets, My Green Tip, and SA Commercial as new clients and was appointed as Liquid Cloud Africa’s full-service agency.

The Ad Focus award is a thrilling feather in the cap on a year of booming agency growth and success. But of course, the main criteria at Happy Friday is not their bottom line but rather their employees, who rather gratifyingly went from an average score of 54 out of 100 on their internal happiness tests to an almost unheard-of average of 74 out of 100.