#BigReads2018: The agencies that made waves in 2018
by Herman Manson (@marklives) We list the agencies you made time to read about here on MarkLives during 2018.
We updated our 2014 agency revenue rankings in 2018 to help assist marketers gain a comprehensive overview of the relative scale of agencies in the South African communications landscape.
2. Turns out Y&R Cape Town closing down, and the brand finally falling away in SA, was a precursor of what was to come
Although we published the first story on Y&R Cape Town being closed down story in September 2017, subsequent moves by WPP — first in allowing the Y&R brand to fall away in SA as VML took over, then in folding the Y&R network into VML globally — led to renewed interest in the original story. VMLY&R will be an agency of more than 7 000 people, and one of WPP’s principal brands. It is meant to be fully operational in early 2019.
Our announcement of the most-admired agencies and agency leaders count among our most-trafficked stories every year.
• 2017’s most-admired agency bosses in South Africa
• 2017’s most-admired creative leaders in SA
• 2017’s one to watch in SA in 2018
• 2017’s most-admired agencies in SA
• 2017’s most digitally integrated in SA
• 2017’s contribution to agency diversity and transformation (SA)
The Odd Number was our agency to watch, with Riverbed the runner-up. The most-admired ad agency in South Africa was King James Group, with Ogilvy & Mather South Africa and Joe Public United as joint runners-up. VML South Africa was our most digitally integrated, and Avatar took home the new Agency Diversity & Transformation award.
In late 2017, Publicis Groupe Africa and a number of its agencies underwent significant management changes; the group employs approximately 1800 people nationally across its various brands and a further 2000 people across the rest of the continent. With chief executive officer Kevin Tromp having left the group at the end of Q3 2017, former Saatchi & Saatchi SA CEO John Dixon was appointed as CEO: Publicis Groupe Africa — a newly constituted role.
In November 2018, Avatar put out a call looking for 43 contractors for a six-month project beginning in December 2018 and ending in May 2019 (hint, hint) — and an additional 12 permanent staff in its Johannesburg and Cape Town offices.
Ogilvy introduced a new organisational structure and brand identity. This integration has brought together the three distinct units of OgilvyOne, Ogilvy & Mather Advertising and Ogilvy PR — along with various company sub-brands and specialty brands — as a single, unified group with a common identity, positioning, client service model and P&L.
Dentsu Aegis Network acquired a majority stake (52.05%) in FoxP2 Holdings after clearing final regulatory hurdles in the form of the Competition Commission; the deal was first announced in October 2017. FoxP2 — which was voted “The one to watch in Cape Town in 2018” in our MarkLives Agency Leaders’ Most Admired Poll 2017 results for Cape Town — has always been rated as one of SA’s most-creative agencies.
M&C Saatchi Group and Avatar South Africa officially “parted ways” in 2018. In January 2017, it was announced that Avatar Investment Holdings (later rebranded to M&N Holdings) would acquire a minority stake in M&C Saatchi’s South African agency network, which today includes M&C Saatchi Abel, M&C Saatchi Connect, M&C Saatchi Africa, Dalmatian, Levergy and Creative Spark. At the same time, M&C Saatchi PLC had acquired a 20% stake in the agency Avatar from Avatar Investment Holdings.
BBDO South Africa folded its Cape Town agency, 140 BBDO, into its primary agency, Net#work BBDO, in Johannesburg. Net#work BBDO now operates on the one-agency-two-offices model, with Cape Town having the operations and services role, and creative and strategy sitting in Jozi.
The Mother City might traditionally have not been seen as welcoming to black-owned and operated agencies, but Avatar Cape Town hasn’t let that hold it back. Though not yet two years old at the time of writing, the agency had already secured several significant accounts and seen strong growth.
Herman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of MarkLives.com.
— One subscription form, three newsletters: sign up now for the MarkLives newsletter, including Ramify headlines; The Interlocker, our new monthly comms-focused mailer; and Brands & Branding, launching soon!