by Herman Manson (@marklivesToday, we reveal which ad agencies in Cape Town were most admired by their peers in 2016!

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 creative leaders, and where they believe their future competition is likely to come from. Next week, we announce the 2016 results from Johannesburg. National results will be announced in two weeks’ time.

The most-admired ad agency in Cape Town

King James Cape Town. Source: Facebook.

King James Group (Cape Town)

King James Group was the clear winner, by a significant margin, of our most-admired agency accolade for 2016. According to James Barty, co-founder and chief executive at King James Group, 2016 was a magnificent year for the group, thanks to the massive win when it picked up the Pick n Pay account, which is shared across both the Cape Town and Johannesburg offices.

The group concluded two acquisitions in 2016: SOC, now rebranded as Punk Media in Joburg, added digital media planning, buying and analytics capability, while Flnt&Tnder, which merged into Punk Jozi in a share swop deal, provided an empowerment impetus.

The group grew by 34% (GP/revenue) vs previous year (only six months of PnP revenue).


In 2015, King James was named our most-admired ad agency in Cape Town. In 2014, King James tied with Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town. In 2013, it was Ogilvy Cape Town. In 2012, our inaugural poll, it was…. King James!


The runner-up

Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town. Source: Facebook.

Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town

Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town, already one of the larger agencies in the country, continued to win significant new business in 2016. These included Mondelēz International (as global lead agency for Clorets and Dentyne). Ogilvy Cape Town is also one of three global lead agencies on the Gum and Candy portfolio; the others are Droga5 in New York and W+K London. It won Tracker in a competitive pitch against M&C Saatchi Abel and King James, as well as the Coca-Cola Stills & Sparkling portfolio — it now manages every Coca-Cola Company brand other than Coke itself, which is held by FCB Africa. It was appointed agency of record for KFC Africa, while Ogilvy PR was appointed PR agency of record for Woolworths. It was recently announced that the agency had been awarded the Appletiser global business (a global lead agency role, much like with Mondelēz). The staff count now tops 310.

“So there is a tremendous story to be told of a South African agency taking on the world and winning,” says managing director, Luca Gallarelli. “I am determined that we become a global agency, managing global clients out of Cape Town — driving thinking and work, and leveraging the network to deploy into market, not the other way around. And, as you can tell from the above, we’ve had some real success in this regard. No other agency in SA can claim this kind of success in owning global relationships.”


Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town was also our runner-up in 2015. FoxP2 was the runner-up both in 2014 and 2013. In 2012, our inaugural poll, it was Ogilvy Cape Town once again.


How the poll works

Towards the end of 2016, Cape Town’s agency leaders were invited to nominate their most-admired agency in Cape Town, the most-admired creative leader in Cape Town and the most-admired agency boss in Cape Town. 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 only 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. The editors of MarkLives had a single vote in the poll. The most-admired agency of the year is disqualified from the One to Watch category; votes cast in its favour in this category is discarded.

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 Cape Town:


Herman MansonHerman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of

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