by Herman Manson (@marklives) Every year since 2012, MarkLives has been polling 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 reveal which agency leaders were most admired by their peers in Cape Town during 2015!

Next week, we announce the 2015 results from Johannesburg. National results will be announced in two weeks’ time.

The most-admired agency boss in Cape Town


James Barty

James Barty
Co-founder & chief executive
King James Group

James Barty has lead King James Group for close on 18 years. The agency has retained its independence, in spite of advances by the major global networks, and retains a 100% South African shareholding (BEE 2).

Barty, alongside co-founder Alistair King, has built the agency from startup to large agency status. The group has launched numerous successful specialist agencies, including PUNK, Atmosphere, Hammer and Society. Its Johanensburg agency, King James II, is lead by Rob McLennan and Graeme Jenner. In 2014/15, King James Group grew revenues by 40%.

In a major coup the group picked up the Pick n Pay business from Y&R South Africa in January 2016.


In 2014, it was Adrian Hewlett, CEO of Publicis Machine, in 2013, it was Gavin Levinsohn, ex-MD of Ogilvy Cape Town. In 2012, our inaugural poll, Claire Cobbledick (then MD of The Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town) and Barty tied for the top spot.


The runner-up

There was no runner-up for 2015.


In 2013, Barty was runner-up; in 2012, it was Levinsohn.


How the poll works

Towards the end of 2015 Cape Town’s agency leaders were invited to nominate their most-admired agency in Cape Town, the most-admired creative director in Cape Town and the most-admired agency boss in Cape Town. We also asked them which agency did the best at digital integration and which agency they saw as the one to watch in the future. Nobody could nominate his or her own agency or staff members, and agencies or execs who work out of the Mother City could be voted for. All the nominations were then tallied up for the final result.

Note: Runner-up(s) will only be named if they achieved a good nomination tally relative to the winner’s position. Contenders are named if they stood out significantly above other nominees, but weren’t able to close in on the winner’s tally.

See previous poll results for Cape Town:


Herman Manson 2105Herman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of He was the inaugural Vodacom Social Media Journalist of the Year in 2011 and has, over his 20-year-plus career, contributed to numerous journals and websites in South Africa and abroad, including AdVantage magazine, Men’s Health, Computer World and African Communications.

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