by Herman Manson (@marklives) Every year, MarkLives polls South Africa’s top agency leaders to find out what they think of 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 publish the results of our regional Johannesburg poll.

The recap

Last year, for the second year running, Joe Public was voted the most-admired ad agency by its regional peers. Runner-up was Ireland/Davenport, a boutique advertising agency part of the WPP group. The 2012 runners-up were Black River FC and M&C Saatchi Abel.

Pepe Marais, chief creative officer at Joe Public, was voted as the most-admired creative director by his peers in Johannesburg in 2013. In 2012, Pete Case (founder of Gloo) took the honours.

The most-admired agency boss in 2013, for the second year running, was Gareth Leck, CEO, Joe Public Group. The runner-up was Graham Warsop, founder and chairman, The Jupiter Drawing Room. In 2012, Nunu Ntshingila (Ogilvy South Africa) was the runner-up. Quirk was tapped as the agency to watch last year.

Cape Town

Last week, we revealed the most-admired ad execs in Cape Town, as voted for by their regional peers. Ogilvy Cape Town and King James Group tied for most-admired agency, with FoxP2 the runner-up. Justin Gomes, ECD at FoxP2 and Alistair King, founding creative partner at King James Group, tied for most-admired creative, with Chris Gotz, CCO of Ogilvy & Mather South Africa, the runner-up. Adrian Hewlett, CEO, Publicis Machine, was the most-admired agency boss.

Ogilvy Cape Town was voted the most-integrated, with Publicis Machine the runner-up. The latter was also voted the one the watch, followed by Saatchi & Saatchi Brandsrock.

The Cape Town poll revealed a revitalised King James Group, and unanimity in the vote for Hewlett as the most-admired agency boss in town.

How it works

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 find our 2013 results here and our 2012 results here.


Joe Public

and, as runner-up,

FCB South Africa

Most-admired: Joe Public

Joe Public recently moved into its new bespoke three-storied, 3000m2 building in Bryanston. The agency had a cracker of a year in 2013, when revenue grew by 89% and staff by 42% in 2013.

In 2014, the group took home the AdReview Agency Group of the Year, as well as the title of AdFocus Agency of the Year. It established a number of key African partnerships and now has a presence in 10 African countries. In total, the group claimed 21 birds over the Loeries weekend.

Account wins included SAICA, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Times Media, Mandela International Film Festival and, among others. Ignite Joe Public, its below-the-line agency, also picked up Knorr Soup as an account.

On the downside, the group exited Cape Town, and now needs to rebuild a digital capacity in Johannesburg.

Staff grew from 161 to 183 (12%) and the agency achieved 23% annualised revenue growth between June 2013 and June 2014.

Runner-up: FCB South Africa

FCB South Africa definitely had a fantastic year.

It managed to win a significant amount of new business across the group, including Cell C, Moneygram, Bonitas, Cape Union Mart, Adcock Ingram, Parmalat, Capfin and IDC. The group was also named the Sunday Times Top Brands Agency of the Year.

According to group CEO & CCO Brett Morris, the agency enjoyed a creative shot in the arm, including being the top-ranked group at the South African Creative Circle Ad of the Year for 2013 (announced in 2014); no. 2-ranked (South African) agency at Cannes; no. 1-ranked agency at Loeries; Loeries Grand Prix winner two-years running; HelloComputer being named AdFocus Digital Agency of the Year; and Sunday Times Top Brands Agency of the Year.

Creative directors

Pepe Marais
Pepe Marais

and, as joint runner-up,

Mariana O’Kelly
Mariana O’Kelly

tied with

Brett Morris
Brett Morris

Most-admired: Pepe Marais, founding partner & CCO, Joe Public

Once again, for the second year running, it’s Joe Public co-founder and chief creative officer, Pepe Marais!

Joint runners-up: Mariana O’Kelly, co-ECD at Ogilvy & Mather Jhb, and Brett Morris, group CEO & CCO, FCB SA — tied

2014 produced a tie between Mariana O’Kelly, co-executive creative director at Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg and Brett Morris, group CEO and CCO, FCB South Africa.

Agency bosses

Brett Morris
Brett Morris

and, as first runner-up,

Gareth Leck
Gareth Leck

and, as second runner-up,

Alistair Mokoena
Alistair Mokoena

Most-admired: Brett Morris, group CEO & CCO, FCB SA

Morris took over as CEO from John Dixon in early 2014 on an agency high; it had just won the Cell C business. He then managed to build upon the momentum FCB SA enjoyed afterwards, winning both clients and creative accolades — in 2014, the agency picked up Cell C, Moneygram, Bonitas, Cape Union Mart, Adcock Ingram, Parmalat, Capfin and IDC.

First runner-up: Gareth Leck, CEO, Joe Public

After two years as most-admired agency boss for Jozi, Leck falls to first runner-up position. As co-founder as well as the CEO of Joe Public United, he has been successfully steering the agency through tremendous growth over the past three years, and has helped lead it to become one of the foremost ad agencies in the country.

Second runner-up: Alistair Mokoena, MD, Ogilvy & Mather Jhb (ex MD, FCB Joburg)

Second runner-up Alistair Mokoena is the managing director of Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg (he started 1 January 2015). Formerly the  MD of FCB Joburg, he played a key role alongside Morris in keeping that agency on a winning path, having been with FCB since November 2012.

Before that, he was head of marketing: retail & business bank at Absa Bank. He has also spent time in marketing positions at Cadbury Schweppes, SABMiller, Tiger Brands and Unilever.


Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg

and, as runner-up,

Publicis Machine
Most-integrated: Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg

Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg possibly receives this accolade partly because of the stellar reputation of Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town in this regard, but also because of its intended merger with Gloo Digital Design, announced shortly before our poll commenced.

Runner-up: Publicis Machine

Last year, no agency garnered sufficient support for us to name a winner in this category. To have two, the other being runner-up Publicis Machine (now with a significant office in Johannesburg, thanks to its merger with Publicis), is certainly positive progress.

One to watch

Not awarded

No agency garnered sufficient support to stand out as the one to watch. Agencies with multiple nominations included the merged Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg/Gloo, FCB Joburg, FoxP2 Johannesburg and Joe Public.

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