by Herman Manson (@marklivesToday, we reveal which Cape Town agency fellow ad execs feel is the “one to watch” in 2016 — the agency from which they expect great things in the year ahead!

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.

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

The one to watch in Cape Town!

Native VML Cape Town. Source: VML website.NATIVE VML

During 2015, NATIVE VML had considerable success in the process of transforming itself from a digital agency into an “Agency for the Digital Age.” It became the lead agency on Absolut Vodka and Chivas in 2015, and it’s also the digital agency for Kulula, Momentum, Red Bull, Pepsico, DirectAxis, Red Bull, Liberty, BMW, Colgate and a number of other high-profile brands. Revenue increased by 12.8% and profit by 88.3%.

Native VML logoThe agency works off an interesting model: it consists of four small self-sufficient agencies (called tribes), which are encouraged to self-manage, develop their own culture and processes, and look after their own people. Each tribe works with its own sub-set of NATIVE VML clients. Each has access to shared services and management support, while internal boundaries allows the main agency to manage conflict clients.

The agency has built up competencies in four key areas: digital marketing, integrated marketing, system integration and business transformation.

The Jameson Indie Channel:
Africa is Absolut:
Passop – Refugees are Human Beings:
Nedbank Website:

[NATIVE VML is head-quartered in Johannesburg but runs a significant operation in Cape Town. Cape Town’s agency execs felt this is the agency from which they expect great things in the year ahead and which has a base in Cape Town — ed.]


For 2015, Publicis Machine was named the agency to watch for the second year in a row. Its previous incarnation, Machine, took the title for 2014.*


The runner-up

There was no runner-up for 2016. For 2015, it was Saatchi & Saatchi BrandsRock and, for 2014, it was MetropolitanRepublic Cape Town.


The contenders

Punk logo                    FoxP2 10-year logo                    Publicis Machine logo

PUNK, FoxP2 and Publicis Machine


How the poll works

Towards the end of 2015, Cape Town’s agency leaders were invited to nominate their most-admired ad agency, the most-admired creative director and the most-admired ad agency boss — all 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:

*Updated at 10.50am on 6 February 2019


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.

— MarkLives’ round-up of top ad and media industry news and opinion in your mailbox every Monday and Thursday days. Sign up here!


Published by Herman Manson is edited by Herman Manson. Follow us on Twitter -

Online CPD Courses Psychology Online CPD Courses Marketing analytics software Marketing analytics software for small business Business management software Business accounting software Gearbox repair company Makeup artist