by Herman Manson (@marklives) Today, we reveal which agency Cape Town’s ad execs consider to be the most digitally integrated in the city! This is part of this week’s announcement of the 2017 MarkLives Agency Leaders’ Most Admired Poll results for Cape Town. Next week will be the Joburg results, followed by the national results in two weeks’ time.

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. We ask them who’s got digital integration right and — for the first time — who’s done best on transformation.


The most digitally integrated ad agency in Cape Town

Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town. Source: Facebook.
Source: Facebook.

Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town

Ogilvy Cape Town still holds onto its crown as Cape Town’s most digitally integrated agency, although both the runners-up are eating into its lead.

In 2017, Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town set about a major internal restructuring process that did away with its previous siloed approach, merging creative studios and account teams across its various specialist agencies and departments, including PR and digital. “What I have personally always loved about our best campaigns was the fact that they were difficult to define by discipline or category,” says MD Luca Gallarelli of the restructuring. “We fundamentally believed that our future would lie in a structure that deployed this kind of thinking across more, more often, faster, and with greater ease for agency staff and clients alike.”


It’s been Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town every year since our inaugural poll in 2012.


The runners-up (tied)

King James Group and NATIVE VML

For the second year running, we have a tie.

James Barty, King James Cape Town, and Alistair King

“As we near our 20th birthday, our agency has continued to achieve creative success in the delivery of truly channel-neutral integrated work that draws on all of the respective specialist disciplines housed within the King James Group,” says James Barty, MD of King James Group. “This success was evidenced through the recognition received for Sanlam’s One Rand Family, Sanlam’s Conspicuous Savers and New Balance’s iComrades at One Show, the Loeries and the Bookmarks.”

King James Digital launched in late 2017, through the merger of several of group agencies, including digital agency Punk and social media specialists, Society, as well as Flint & Tinder and SOC, that were trading as Punk Johannesburg and Punk Media. The new entity launched in October with over 90 digital specialists across Cape Town and Johannesburg and covers expertise from marketing communications, customer experience, data analytics and media.

Native VML Cape Town. Source: VML website.
Source: VML website.

Executives voted NATIVE VML as a runner-up. In 2016, it was announced that NATIVE VML and Y&R South Africa would form a single group and management structure (the Cape Town office of Y&R has since been closed down). In 2017, NATIVE VML was named Entertainment Agency of the Year 2017 in the Cannes Lions Global Creativity Report; it also ranked third among the top South African agencies at the 2017 Loerie Awards, and fourth among agencies from across Africa and the Middle East.


In 2016, King James Group  and VML and Y&R Africa Group tied as runners-up. There was no runner-up for 2015.


How the poll works

Towards the end of 2017, we invited agency executives to nominate their most-admired agency, creative leader and most-admired agency both in their region (Johannesburg or Cape Town) and nationally. We also asked them which agency did the best at digital integration and at transformation (a new question), and which agency they saw as the one to watch in the future. Execs couldn’t nominate their own agencies or staff members. All the nominations were then tallied up for the final result. The editors of MarkLives had two votes in the final poll.

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 stand out significantly above other nominees but weren’t able to close in on the winner’s tally. The most-admired agency of the year is disqualified from the One to Watch category; votes cast in its favour in this category are discarded.

Previous Cape Town results


Herman Manson 2017Herman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of

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