by Herman Manson (@marklives) Y&R South Africa has won the Edgars advertising account and  independent agency, Promise, has won Edcon’s Speciality division — which includes Edgars Active, Red Square, Boardmans, CNA and Edcon Cellular — multiple sources close to the pitch process have confirmed to MarkLives. Edcon would not comment upon or confirm any agency appointments, saying only an announcement could be expected soon.

Taking over from M&C Saatchi Abel

Y&R SA, alongside specialist shopper agency Y&R Labstore and full-service digital partner NATIVE VML (VML is part of the Y&R network), will take over the account from incumbent, M&C Saatchi Abel. Y&R SA had previously lost the Pick n Pay advertising account to King James Group in January 2015 after a 48-year-long relationship and had been fighting hard to win another big piece of retail business.

Andrew Welch, Y&R SA CEO, told MarkLives: “We cannot comment at this stage. Edgars have their own communications time plan and Y&R, Labstore, and NATIVE VML have been asked to respect that time plan — which is what we intend to do until further notice.”

Promise, at the end of 2015 voted’s Agency to Watch in both South Africa and Johannesburg for 2016 by senior agency executives, recently won Castle Lite Lime’s digital account. It also recently became integrated agency of record for functional food company, FUTURELIFE. It referred queries to Edcon.

Loss confirmed

M&C Saatchi Abel chief executive partner, Mike Abel, has confirmed that the agency has lost the Edgars business and that it will affect its Johannesburg office.

“Fortunately, we have been experiencing strong growth at our Johannesburg office, so that the size of the Edgars business as a proportion of our revenue has declined significantly over the last few years,” he says.

Abel acknowledged that job losses would be inevitable. However, the agency is actively pitching on new business and, if successful, this would lessen the impact of the account loss.

Jet not yet known

Sources close to the pitch process indicate that Jet — the third and final part of the Edcon business out to pitch — has not yet confirmed where it will sit, but incumbent Joe Public and DBB South Africa are both believed to be in the running. M&C Saatchi Abel is believed to have recently withdrawn from the pitch.

The total Edcon account is estimated to be worth R150m a year.

The account move comes at a troubling financial time for the giant retailer after it deferred interest payments of about R1.6bn on bonds issued to mature in 2018. MarkLives previously reported that executives at agencies taking on the business would expect guarantees to be put in place before they staff up to handle the giant account.


Herman MansonHerman 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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