by Herman Manson (@marklives) Today, we reveal which agency creatives 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.

Regional polls recap

Cape Town: For 2015, Alistair King, King James Group founding creative partner, has been voted most-admired creative by agency leaders; Justin Gomes, FoxP2 ECD, is our runner-up; and  Ross Chowles, The Jupiter Drawing Room (Cape Town) creative director, has been named a contender.

Johannesburg: Pepe Marais, Joe Public United CCO, has taken top honours, with Fran Luckin, Quirk ECD as runner-up. Mariana O’Kelly, Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg co-ECD, and Xolisa Dyeshana, Joe Public ECD, have been named contenders.


The most-admired creative in South Africa

Alistair KingAlistair King
Founding creative partner
King James Group

Alistair King is the founding creative partner of independent agency, King James Group. His business partner, James Barty, was voted SA’s most-admired agency boss earlier this week. King James Group now scores two out of two, what with King being voted SA’s most-admired creative for 2015.

Over the past year his agency has been responsible for outstanding campaigns for both Sanlam (One Rand Man) and Santam (One of a Kind) especially. In 2015, his agency scored Agency of the Year at the African Cristal Awards, where it also took a Grand Prix. It was ranked the top agency overall at the 2014 Midas awards, as well, and won six Golds at the 2015 Loeries, as well as seven Silvers and six Bronzes.

Previously: Chris Gotz, previously Ogilvy & Mather South Africa CCO, won in 2014 and again in 2013. King took the vote in our inaugural poll in 2012.


The runner-up

Graham LangGraham Lang
Chief creative officer
Young & Rubicam South Africa

Graham Lang drew significant support from both Cape Town and Jozi’s agency leaders, securing him the position of runner-up in this poll. Lang, like King, is based in Cape Town, which means both of SA’s most-admired creatives are headquartered in the Mother City.

Last year, Lang served on international awards juries, including One Show on the Cross-Platform Jury, the New York Festivals Executive Jury, and the Film Jury at the Cannes Festival of Creativity. Y&R South Africa finished third in the 2015 post-Cannes Creative Circle ranking for Group Agencies, with three winning campaigns across three categories.

The agency received its second consecutive Ubuntu Award (for Pick n Pay’s “Scrumptious Cookies”) at The Loerie Awards 2015. It also won the 2014 Antalis Creative Use of Paper Award for work done for Johannesburg Zoo.


In 2014, Pepe Marais, Joe Public founding partner & CCO, was voted runner-up. In 2013, it was Justin Gomes, FoxP2 ECD. Mike Schalit (Net#workBBDO South Africa), Chris Gotz (Ogilvy Cape Town), Pete Case (Gloo) and Ahmed Tilly (Black River FC) all tied as runners-up in 2012, our inaugural poll.


The contenders

Brett Morris, GCEO & ECD, FCB Africa
Jonathan Deeb, ECD, FCB Africa
Fran Luckin, ECD, Grey South Africa
Justin Gomes, ECD, FoxP2
Pepe Marais, founding partner & CCO, Joe Public


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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