by Herman Manson (@marklives) Today, we reveal which were the agencies 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.

Regional polls recap

Johannesburg: The most-admired ad agency in Jozi,was Joe Public United, with the runner-up being FCB Africa. Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg was named a contender.

Cape Town: Here the vote went to King James Group (Cape Town), with Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town the runner-up and FoxP2 contending.


The most-admired ad agency in South Africa

Joe Public United offices

Joe Public United

Joe Public United has beaten Cape Town’s principal hope this year for the accolade, King James Group, by a narrow margin. It’s also broken O&M Cape Town’s three-year winning streak since our poll began to grab top spot.

Joe Public United Africa logoNew business gained in 2015 included De Beers, John Hopkins, Population Services International, Unilever and Iliadin. Its current client list includes Nedbank, Jet, Clover, Steers and Mercedes-Benz Commercial. Full time staff stands at 163. Revenue (not billings) stands at between R100–R150m.

Earlier this week Gareth Leck, Joe Public Group CEO, was named a runner-up in the category of most-admired agency boss in SA.


O&M Cape Town was the top-rated agency in SA for three years running — from 2012 up to and including 2014.


The runner-up

King James Cape Town. Source: Facebook.

King James Group (Cape Town)

Group revenue for 2014/15 jumped to R145m — representing 40% growth. Digital revenue grew by 100% year-on-year and now represents 24% of group revenue. King James II, the group’s Jozi agency, grew revenue year-on-year at 40%, while revenue at PUNK (digital) shot up by 142% and Hammer grew by 191%. In a major coup the group picked up the Pick n Pay business from Y&R South Africa in January 2016.  The group was also named Large Advertising Agency of the Year at the Annual AdFocus Awards in 2015 and won Agency of the Year at the 2014 Cristal Awards.

King James Group logoThe Cape Town agency won New Balance, Me&You Mobile and a number of Coty brands during 2015; its PR division won Cotton On, MWeb, Nampak and P&G projects; and King James II won The Core Group, MAN trucks, Garmin, and Mrs Balls (Tiger brands). As of November 2015, the group employs 178 people.


In 2014, results replicated 2013 exactly — with Joe Public Group as runner-up and joint second runners-up were FoxP2 and King James. In 2012, our inaugural poll, the runner-up was King James Group.


The contenders

FCB JohannesburgOgilvy & Mather Cape Town. Source: Facebook.Y&R South Africa in Johannesburg

FCB Africa, Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town and Y&R South Africa


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 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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