by Herman Manson (@marklives) Every year, MarkLives polls the country’s agency leadership to find out whom agency executives think of as their competitors, whom they see as effective managers and great creatives, and where they believe their future competition is likely to come from. Today, we reveal the results of our poll among Johannesburg-based ad executives.

Last week we revealed results for our regional Cape Town poll. Results for our overall national poll will be revealed on January 27.


Ogilvy Cape Town saw a clean sweep in our Cape Town poll, taking top honours as the most-admired agency in Cape Town (as voted for by its peers in Cape Town), while its chief creative officer Chris Gotz emerged as the city’s most-admired creative director. Its former MD, Gavin Levinsohn, was named as the most-admired agency exec in the city. Machine emerged as the ‘One to watch’ — the one agency rival execs are keeping a close eye on.

Jozi’s agency leaders were also invited to nominate their most-admired agency based in the city, the most-admired creative director working in the city and the most-admired boss of a Joburg agency. We also asked them which Johannesburg agency did the best at digital integration and which local agency they saw as the one to watch in the future.

Nobody could nominate his or her own agency or staff. All the nominations were then tallied up to see whom adland’s highest decision-makers most admire*. You may view the 2012 results here.

Most-admired agency

Joe Public
Most admired: Joe Public.
Runner-up: Ireland-Davenport.

For the second year running, Joe Public  was voted the most-admired ad agency by its regional peers. In 2012, the agency successfully managed rapid growth — revenue jumped over 100% while its staff numbers climbed by 60%. In 2013, it won Tempest Car Hire, as well as Steers. It also opened an agency in Cape Town and another in Namibia. Revenue grew by 89% and staff by 42% in 2013.

Runner-up Ireland/Davenport is a boutique advertising agency and is part of the WPP group. In 2013, it won the massive Vodacom advertising account. Draftfcb had held that piece of business for 19 years.

Joe Public took 54.5% of the nominations, Ireland/Davenport attracted 27.3% of the vote and Black River FC attracted 18.2% of the vote.

Most-admired creative director

Pepe Marais
Most admired: Pepe Marais, founding partner & CCO, Joe Public.
Runner-up: Ahmed Tilly, ECD/CEO Black River FC.

Pepe Marais is chief creative officer at Joe Public, the agency also voted as the most admired by its peers in Johannesburg.

Marais produces consistently excellent campaigns that often speaks to a sense of shared humanity that allows the people behind the brands to connect with those behind the consumer label. His much-lauded campaign for Tracker repositioned what was a product into a service. Recent campaigns included well-received spots for Clover and an innovative brand activation for Douwe Egberts.

Ahmed Tilly, ECD/CEO Black River FC, is the man behind some of the best advertising in the country through Nando’s, including the “Last Dictator Standing” and our Ad of the Year for 2012, the Nando’s diversity advert. The agency, however, lost Nando’s as a client to MetropolitanRepublic late in 2013.

Marais took 66.5% of the vote and Tilly 33.5%.

Most-admired agency boss

Gareth Leck
Most admired: Gareth Leck, CEO, Joe Public.
Runner-up: Graham Warsop, founder & chairman, The Jupiter Drawing Room.

Ogilvy Cape Town did a clean sweep in Cape Town — Joe Public pulled a similar achievement in Johannesburg. After taking the title of most-admired agency in Johannesburg, Joe Public also won most-admired creative director with Pepe Marais and now CEO Gareth Leck has taken the “most-admired agency boss” title.

Runner-up Graham Warsop, the founder and chairman of The Jupiter Drawing Room, was inducted into the Loeries Hall of Fame in 2013. He also continues to grow the Jupiter brand into the rest of Africa — the group has already achieved significant success in Zimbabwe.

Most integrated

No award

No Johannesburg agency received significant support in this category.

One to watch

One to watch: Quirk.

Among Johannesburg agency bosses, Quirk stood out as the agency to watch. The digital-centric agency last year appointed Fran Luckin ECD to broaden the creative scope of its work.

*Only agencies or agency staff who received more than a single nomination were included when we worked out voting percentages.

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