Agency Leaders 2015: Most admired ad agency boss in South Africa
by Herman Manson (@marklives) Today, we reveal which agency leaders were most-admired by their peers in South Africa during 2015.
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. First we announced the 2015 regional results from Cape Town, and last week we announced the 2015 regional results from Johannesburg. This week is dedicated to national results.
- Today: Most-admired ad agency bosses in SA
- Tuesday: Most-admired creative leaders in SA
- Wednesday: Most-admired ad agencies in SA
- Thursday: One to watch in 2016 in SA!
- Friday: Most digitally-integrated ad agencies in SA
Regional polls recap
Cape Town: For 2015, James Barty, King James Group co-founder and CEO, has been voted as the most-respected agency boss by his Cape Town peers; there is no runner-up.
Johannesburg: Here it’s Brett Morris, GCEO and ECD of FCB South Africa (now FCB Africa), with Gareth Leck, Joe Public United CEO, as runner-up. Contenders include Ahmed Tilly, Black River FC ECD; Jerry Mpufane, M&C Saatchi Abel Jhb group MD; and Felix Kessel, Owen Kessel Leo Burnett CEO.
The most-admired agency boss in South Africa
The most-admired South African agency head for 2015 hails from Cape Town, where he leads one of the largest independent-agency groups in the country. Barty was voted as the most-admired agency head by his peers, receiving an equal number of nominations from agency leaders in Johannesburg and in Cape Town.
In early 2014, a brave move to resign long-standing client Allan Gray, for which the agency had produced some of its most-lauded work, to take on Sanlam, paid off. In a major coup the group picked up the Pick n Pay business from Y&R South Africa in January 2016. Creatively and financially, the group is in its strongest position in years. It was named Large Advertising Agency of the Year at The Annual AdFocus Awards last year, beating finalists TBWA, Y&R Johannesburg, Ogilvy & Mather, M&C Saatchi Abel, Joe Public and FCB Joburg. It was also named Agency of the Year at the African Cristal Awards. Revenue grew by 40% in 2014/15.
Last year, new client wins included New Balance, Me&You mobile, The Core Group, Garmin and MAN trucks, among others.
In 2014, Leck and FCB’s Brett tied for joint honours. In 2013, it was Gavin Levinsohn, ex-MD of Ogilvy Cape Town. In 2012, our inaugural poll, it was Barty.
The runners-up (tied)
Gareth Leck was also our runner-up as the most-admired agency exec in Jozi, and it’s the fourth year he has featured in one of our top-two slots for most-admired agency boss, as well as being the most-admired exec in 2014 (when he tied with Morris from FCB Africa).
Leck serves as the CEO and co-founder of independent agency, Joe Public United. New business gained in 2015 included De Beers, John Hopkins, Population Services International, Unilever and Iliadin, which grew revenue by 7.5%.
Joe Public United consists of Joe Public (above-the-line agency), Ignite Joe Public (below-the-line agency), Shift Joe Public (brand communications agency), Engage Joe Public (public relations agency), Connect Joe Public (digital agency) and Think Joe Public (strategic media planning and buying unit).
If your name sits next to those of Maurice and Charles Saatchi, it says something about your career in advertising. Abel and his partners launched M&C Saatchi Abel, which is 50.1% owned by M&C Saatchi PLC, in 2010.
Since then, the agency has achieved record growth over a short period of time, catapulting into the large-agency status with 130 people employed by 2012. Revenue reached R33m in 2011 and exceeded R70m by mid-2012. Today it is in excess of R100m. Major clients wins includes Nedbank, Edcon, Simba/Pepsico, Heineken (through Brandhouse), takealot.com, Hollard, MWEB, Nando’s and Namibian Breweries, to name but a few.
Last year, M&C Saatchi Abel was named Agency of the Year at the 2015 Annual AdFocus Awards. In late 2015, M&C Saatchi PLC acquired Creative Spark to house conflict work from M&C Saatchi Abel and to boost digital skills within the SA group.
In 2014, the runner-up was Barty. Leck was the runner-up in both 2012 and 2013.
Graham Warsop, founder & chairman, The Jupiter Drawing Room & Le Patron of Utopia
Charl Thom, CEO, FoxP2 Group
Ahmed Tilly, ECD, Black River FC
How the poll works
Towards the end of 2015, agency leaders were invited to nominate their most-admired ad agency, the most-admired creative director and the most-admired ad agency boss. 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 national poll results:
Herman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of MarkLives.com. 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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