by Herman Manson (@marklives) Today, we reveal which ad agencies were most admired by their peers in Johannesburg during 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. Last week we announced the 2016 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 most-admired ad agency in Jozi

FCB Africa

FCB Johannesburg

After two years of being voted runner-up in our most-admired ad agency in Jozi poll, FCB Africa has finally jumped to the top slot, and in spectacular fashion. The agency was the hands-down winner in our poll of industry peers.

In early 2016, it announced a major empowerment deal with the non-profit Maharishi Education for Invincibility Trust, which has boosted the agency’s total black ownership to over 51% and increased its total black-female ownership to over 31%.

In August 2016, FCB Africa emerged as the winner of the consumer component of the Barclays Africa Group advertising account. Absa spends more than R429m on advertising and marketing activities in SA alone, according to Nielsen’s AIS/Adindex ranking (2014). The Barclays Africa Group is active in Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Seychelles, SA, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Towards the end of 2016, the agency announced that it had appointed Ahmed Tilly, the co-founder of iconic South African agency, Black River FC, as joint chief creative officer, alongside Jonathan Deeb, in November 2016.

“We’ve been lucky enough to have significant growth, particularly in Joburg, having more than doubled in size,” says Brett Morris, GCEO GCCO, FCB Africa. “We’re a talent business and we believe in investing in talent in order to scale the business, so, with Ahmed on board, our expectations are to ensure we can continue producing iconic South African communication for our clients that adds with value, has scalability, and offers real integration.”

“With significant growth, continuing to produce a world-class product at scale is always a challenge,” he continues. “This is further complicated by the pace at which media evolves, so we retooled our ops process and invested in talent in order to make sure we not only keep up but stay ahead.”


Joe Public United had won our top agency in Johannesburg accolade every year since we launched our Agency Leaders poll in 2012 — until now.


The runner-up

Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg

Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg exterior

Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg has had a strong year commercially, according to managing director, Alistair Mokoena. This was largely due “to us mining our existing client portfolio as opposed to landing new clients,” he explains. “Our strategy in 2016 was to be more internally focused in order to get back to brilliant basics. We are hoping to attract some new clients in 2017.

“We’ve done a considerable amount of work in 2017 to unblock operational hurdles so that we can be more nimble, agile, efficient and generally easier to do business with,” Mokoena continues. “A lot of business re-engineering has taken place [last year], which explains why [we were] more internally focused in 2016.”


In 2015 and 2014, FCB Africa was voted our runner-up. In 2013, it was Ireland/Davenport. In 2012, our inaugural poll, the runners-up were Black River FC and M&C Saatchi Abel.


How the poll works

Towards the end of 2016, Joburg’s agency leaders were invited to nominate their most-admired agency in Joburg, the most-admired creative leader in Joburg and the most-admired agency boss in Joburg. 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 City of Gold 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 Jozi:


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

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