Management changes at AVATAR
AVATAR celebrates its fifth birthday this year with co-founder, Zibusiso Mkhwanazi, stepping down as agency CEO to take on a bigger role as group CEO of AVATAR Investment Holdings (AIH) and the AVATAR360 Group, which owns AVATAR Johannesburg and Cape Town. Co-founder, Veli Ngubane, will continue at the helm of the creative department.
The agency group will now look to grow on the continent, and increase its size through acquisitions and investments in the marketing industry. To successfully navigate this transition, Mpange Chapeshamano has been appointed as managing director of AVATAR Johannesburg, while Natalie Andrews is now operations director. Previously, Chapeshamano was MD for LIVE+; he also served as CEO of Dashboard Africa and ran Africa Red for Ogilvy. Andrews, formerly with Ireland/Davenport, will augment the management team, bringing years of experience in operations to ensure the smooth running of the group.
Mthunzi Plaatjie continues as MD of AVATAR’s Cape Town office.
“This frees me to focus on growth in the AVATAR360 Group,” explains Mkhwanazi. “We are looking to expand vertically into areas like B2B, media, PR and activation. My role is to look at whom we can partner with to extend our service offering and add even greater value to our clients and business.”
In January 2017, Avatar Investment Holdings acquired a significant minority stake in M&C Saatchi’s South African agency network, which includes M&C Saatchi Abel, M&C Saatchi Connect, M&C Saatchi Africa, Dalmatian and Creative Spark. At the same time, M&C Saatchi PLC aquired a 20% stake in the agency AVATAR from Avatar Investment Holdings.
“Footprint in Africa”
“We’ve experienced incredible growth during the past five years. We’re a medium-sized agency, but are moving to become a much-bigger player. We have now obtained a footprint in Africa through the M&C Saatchi Abel Group, which enables us to become a more-serious player on the continent,” says Mkhwanazi. “What’s critical is that we still remain independent. Our mutual share acquisition is all about collaboration. We want to collaborate with more agencies and groups using our Investment business AIH where there is mutual value.
“From the get-go, it has been our dream to find a meaningful way to help solve the issue of transformation in the advertising industry,” he continues. “The next phase will also see AVATAR Investment Holdings roll out a broad-based women’s empowerment group called Esihlahleni. This will unlock growth for young black women to access the marketing and media industry, and will be a value-adding partner to our group and whomever we invest in. This means it will allow us to unlock interesting opportunities in the public sector, and will help us invest in agencies that will enable our growth into new markets and sectors.”