The ‘anti-agency’ with its sights on global expansion

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 6 February 2019
Robert Cain

Hot on the heels of being acquired by global network Together Group, ambitious ‘anti-agency’ Overdose has its sights firmly set on boosting revenue and international clients - but not without loosing its identity or still having 'skin in the game'.

The digital commerce agency sprouted up in Auckland in 2016 and later opened an office in Sydney. 

Sydney MD Robert Cain tells AdNews he has no fears about losing its identity following the acquisition.

Speaking to AdNews, Cain, who has worked with companies such as David Jones and Woolworths, said after being approached by London-based network Together Group, it was the perfect opportunity to grow rapidly, which Cain said is difficult to do alone.

He said the group aims to unite founder-led agencies while leaving them their autonomy.

“Together Group isn’t going to strip out Overdose’s assets and let it just churn,” Cain said.

“It understands our model and knows that’s how we’re going to dominate.”

While Cain is optimistic about the possibilities for independents, others are not so sure.

Banjo founder Andrew Varasdi told AdNews he predicts the days of independents are numbered, saying that agencies must be part of a bigger group to thrive.

However, other independents, such as The Royals and Apparent, have been strong, with The Royals adapting to the modern market to remain successful.

Global expansion

From its office in Auckland, Overdose now has offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Singapore and is in active talks to open in the US and the UK. Cain has also indicated Perth, Brisbane, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur as potential locations.

“We certainly have a vision of wanting to crack the market,” Cain said.

“There’s a lot of crying out there of people wanting support. They don’t want to be paying for stuff they don’t understand and don’t know how to use.

“Together Group allows Overdose to build more offices, both locally and globally. Without that capitalisation of a bigger group it’s very difficult to do that organically.”

With the new partnership, Overdose hopes to grow the revenue it receives from markets outside Australia and New Zealand from 6 – 7% to a sturdy 60-70% in the next three years.

While Cain said remaining a disruptor as it grows may be a challenge, he’s confident its model will be meet by plenty of demand.

“There is always pressure. If you don’t have a little pressure you’re not keen,” Cain said.

“To continue to deliver disruptive and unique strategies we spend a lot of effort on the strategy side. It’s not a 200 page strategy that needs 20 years to implement; everything needs to be agile now.

“We’re constantly in the market looking for what’s best practice and what new technology is coming next.”

Part of Overdose's “anti-agency” model means not chasing big clients such as Woolworths or Coles - although it has worked with the likes of Samsung, HBO and Air China - but instead working closely with mid-market customers.

Growing in times of corporate domination

Despite the mergers and acquisitions that bolster many big corporations, and being acquired themselves, Cain said smaller players still very much have the benefit of the digital world.

“There will always be global domination, however, the agility the internet brings means the little guys can come up really quickly,” Cain said.

“It’s not just knocking on doors anymore and growing slowly, businesses are coming from nowhere at the moment.”

Cain said he’s able to help Overdose meet its “anti-agency” model by ensuring it understands retailers’ problems and by preventing it from becoming disconnected and simply selling services, which he claims agency can fall into the habit of doing.

“It's about getting deeper into those intimate relationships which is makes clients stickier and less resistant,” he explained.

“Often agencies provide one service and walk away, whereas it has to be about putting your own skin in the game – and that's something we'll continue to do, regardless of who owns us.”

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.

comments powered by Disqus