by Herman Manson (@marklives) Today, we reveal which Joburg 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. Last week we announced the 2015 results from Cape Town. This week is dedicated to finding out the choice of Jozi’s industry leaders. National results will be announced next week.

The one to watch in Johannesburg!

Promise agency


Promise, an independent agency launched by Marc Watson and James Moffatt ten years ago, has been voted the agency to watch in the year ahead. Over the course of 2015, the agency won business from Castle Lite (BTL), Virgin Mobile, Edcon (additional), Ellies Holdings, JTI, Forever New and Brutal Fruit (digital). Digital revenue grew 80% in the past financial year and is now 40% of total income for Promise. Promise grew its revenue by 24% year-on-year in 2015, with its revenue brand standing between R45–55m.

PromiseWatson and Moffatt launched without any clients from their dining-room table in Parkhurst, Johannesburg, and started cold-calling potential business. The agency focused upon BTL work before developing into a through-the-line shop. Clients today include Renault, Edcon (CNA, Edcon Cellular), AfriSam and South African Breweries (Castle Lite, Redd’s and Brutal Fruit).


No agency was named as ‘One to Watch’ in 2014. Quirk was tapped in 2013.


The runner-up

King James II building

King James II

In early 2013, Rob McLennan and Graeme Jenner, both Net#work BBDO stalwarts, teamed up with King James Group to launch full-service startup ad agency, King James II, in Johannesburg.

King James II logoToday, the agency has four partners (including managing partner, Charles Matterson, and strategy partner, Lesego Kotane) and employs 25 people. It turned its first profit one year into trading.

Clients include the SABC commercial business (SABC3 and its commercial radio stations such as 5FM, MetroFM, Radio 2000, SAFM, Lotus FM and Goodhope FM), Garmin, MAN Trucks South Africa, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), iStore , Mrs Ball’s Chutney (Tiger Brands), deodorant brand Status (Tiger Brands), British Airways, Mi Mobile (China’s biggest cellular manufacturer), Baker and McKenzie (the world’s largest law firm), VW Trucks and Bus, and also a slice of Sanlam.


How the poll works

Towards the end of 2015, Johannesburg’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 Jozi. 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 City of Gold 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 Jozi:


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