by Herman Manson (@marklives) Today we reveal, as part of our annual Agency Leaders poll, which agency creative leaders were most admired by their peers in South Africa during the course of 2018!

Every year since 2012, MarkLives has been polling South Africa’s top ad 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. The first week we ran our Cape Town results, last week our Joburg results, and next week will be our remaining categories.

The most-admired creative leader in South Africa

Alistair King
Founding creative partner
King James Group SA

Alistair KingIn 2018, Alistair King was inducted into the Creative Circle Hall of Fame as the agency he co-founded celebrated its 20th year in business. The agency was the third most-awarded (by agency) at the 2018 Loeries.

Sanlam 2-Minute Shower Songs and Sanlam Uk’Shona Kwelanga were its two most-awarded campaigns of the year. The former took, among others, the PRISM Awards Campaign of the Year, a Loeries Grand Prix in Digital and Interactive, and two Silvers at One Show. The latter won two PRISM Award Golds, two Silvers and one Bronze at Cannes, two Golds at Bookmarks, three Bronze at One Show and a Gold at APEX.

“Sanlam 2-Minute Shower Songs and Sanlam Uk’Shona Kwelanga were our best-performing work [last] year as far as awards go, but I think our teams are knocking it out the park on a whole bunch of brands,” comments King. “We have some epic work rolling out in the new year, so look out for TymeBank, Santam and Netflix. I’m also particularly proud of the work we’re doing on Pick n Pay, and we’re part of a wonderful brand revival there.

“As far as our heroes go, ha ha, nice try. Every time we mention a rising star at King James, they get poached so, if people want to know who our rock stars are, they’re going to have to do it the old-fashioned way: stalk.”

Previously: King took the crown in 2017, 2016 and in 2015. Chris Gotz, previously Ogilvy & Mather SA CCO, won in 2014 and again in 2013. King took the vote in our inaugural poll in 2012.


The runner-up

Xolisa Dyeshana
Chief creative officer
Joe Public United

Xolisa DyeshanaDuring the course of 2018, Xolisa Dyeshana took on full creative leadership of the ATL specialist agency within Joe Public United, as Pepe Marais took on a group role. “Our creative product [took] a significant step-up [last] year and we are extremely proud of that,” says Dyeshana on the agency’s creative performance during 2018. “We are constantly challenging ourselves to do work that is more South African in its feel and texture, and more resonant with a diverse local audience, first and foremost. Going forward, we want to build on the momentum of [last] year and to pay particular attention to the seamless integration of all our work across all mediums.”

Joe Public United was the top-ranked agency at the 2018 Loeries. Marais and Dyeshana placed joint first place in the chief creative officer ranking.

Previously: In 2017, it was Ahmed Tilly, FCB Africa joint CCO, and Sibusiso “Sbu” Sitole, The Odd Number co-founder and then creative director (now CCO). In 2016, it was Tilly. Graham Lang, then Y&R South Africa CCO, was our runner-up in 2015. In 2014, it was Pepe Marais, Joe Public founding partner and CCO. In 2013, it was Justin Gomes, FoxP2 ECD. Mike Schalit (Net#work BBDO South Africa), Chris Gotz (then Ogilvy Cape Town), Pete Case (then Gloo) and Tilly (then Black River FC) all tied as runners-up in our inaugural poll in 2012.



Contenders are named if they stand out significantly above their peers in terms of the number of nominations received but do not make it into the top two spots.

Pepe Marais August 2018 Tseliso Rangaka

Pepe Marais
Group chief creative officer
Joe Public United

Tseliso Rangaka
Executive creative director
Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town

Marais is joint runner-up Most Admired Creative Leader in Jozi for 2018. Rangaka is our Most Admired Creative Leader in Cape Town for 2018.

How the poll works

In November 2018, we invited a panel of 120 agency executives — creative and management, and ranging over a wide spectrum from small- and medium-sized to network agencies — to nominate their most-admired agency and agency leaders regionally (for Johannesburg or Cape Town) and nationally (South Africa). 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 held 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.

See also


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

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