by Herman Manson (@marklives) It’s always good to know what the boss thinks. Having polled Cape Town’s agency leaders, we can now tell what those leading the city’s ad agencies think of their competitors, whom they see as effective managers and great creatives, and where they believe their future competition is likely to come from.

How it works

Cape Town’s agency leaders were invited to nominate their most-admired agency in Cape Town, the most-admired creative director in Cape Town and the most-admired agency boss in Cape Town. 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. Johannesburg agencies received a similar form for their city.

Executives in both cities received a request to similarly vote for those they most admire on the national stage (ignoring where an agency is headquartered), and Durban execs were invited to participate in the national poll only.

Nobody could nominate his or her own agency or staff. All the nominations were then tallied up to see whom adland’s highest decision-makers most admire*.

We kick off our poll results in Cape Town and will release results for Johannesburg on 20 January 2014 and for our national poll, which reveals South Africa’s most-admired agency leaders, on 27 January. You may find our 2012 results here.

Most-admired agency

Most admired: Ogilvy Cape Town.
Runner-up: FoxP2

Cape Town’s ad execs picked Ogilvy Cape Town as the ad agency they most admire. The agency has seen two years of awards success: in 2012, it was its ‘Be the coach’ campaign for Carling Black Label that gave the agency its integrated creative credentials; this year, it’s been Volkswagen’s ‘Street Quest’ campaign and ‘Send your FB profile to CT’ campaign for Cape Town which garnered acclaim.

Ogilvy Cape Town picked up the following pieces of integrated pieces of business over the past year: Flying Fish Flavoured Beer — SAB, WeChat — Naspers, News24, Careers24, RubyBox — Media24, DirectAxis and PSI (USAID-funded condom launch for Salama condoms into Tanzania).

Gavin Levinsohn, who lead the agency for most of the past five years, stepped down in 2013 to emigrate to Australia where he now leads branding and design agency Moon Communications. Luca Gallarelli stepped into Levinsohn’s shoes on 1 Nov 2013.

Runner-up FoxP2 caused waves when it opened shop in Johannesburg in early 2012 under the creative leadership of Grant Jacobsen, landing Liberty as a founding client. FoxP2 group MD Charl Thom manages both the Cape Town and Joburg agencies at the moment.

The agency group won an impressive roster of new clients including Liberty, Stanlib, Cipla Pharmaceuticals, Diageo (Africa): Bell Lager, Harp Lager, Gilbey’s, Master’s Choice and Dove from Unilever.

Ogilvy Cape Town attracted 54.5% of the vote, FoxP2 attracted 27.3% of the vote and King James attracted 18.2% of the vote.

Most-admired creative director

Chris Gotz
Most admired: Chris Gotz,
CCO of Ogilvy & Mather South Africa.
Joint runners-up: Justin Gomes, ECD at FoxP2, and Graham Lang, CCO at Y&R South Africa.

The creative director at a Cape Town agency who was most admired by the city’s agency chiefs was Chris Gotz, chief creative officer of Ogilvy & Mather South Africa.

Gotz is behind some of the most-acclaimed advertising work produced in the country over the past several years, including Carling Black Label’s ‘Be the coach’, VW’s ‘Street Quest’ and Cape Town’s ‘Send your FB profile to CT’. Gotz, who also chairs the Creative Circle, has had a rocky relationship with media covering the industry, including MarkLives, but this has been outweighed by his integrated thinking on big campaigns.

Justin Gomes (executive creative director at FoxP2) and Graham Lang (chief creative officer Y&R South Africa) were joint runners-up.

Under the creative guidance of Gomes, FoxP2 has always punched above its size and continues to do so. The agency won a Loerie Grand Prix for its radio campaign, ‘Death doesn’t have to try very hard’.

Under Lang, Y&R South Africa is enjoying a creative revival. Work on Land Rover, Playboy and SKYY have all been well-received by the industry.

Gotz pulled 60% of the vote, emerging as the clear winner, with Gomes and Lang polling 20% each.

Most-admired agency boss

Gavin Levinsohn
Most admired: Gavin Levinsohn, ex-MD,
Ogilvy Cape Town.
Runner-up: James Barty, co-founder and chief executive,
King James Group.

Levinsohn spent four years and 10 months leading Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town as managing director and, under his tenure, the agency was lauded for its integrated thinking. Levinsohn recently left the country to join the Moon Communications Group in Australia as its CEO.

Comments Adeshia Singh, MD at Singh & Sons (Levinsohn was a co-founder of the agency before he joined Ogilvy): “Gavin is a great ad guy who happens to be great at business.  He has a real love and respect for the end product , whether it’s  great advertising, design or digital work.  And that love of great comms is essentially what drives the ways he works.  I think that’s what he brought to Ogilvy.  A real heart for great  work.”

James Barty is the co-founder and chief executive of the King James Group and runner-up in our poll. King James ventured into the Johannesburg market in 2013 with the launch of King James II, under the leadership of Rob McLennan and Graeme Jenner. The Joburg agency’s staff complement already stands at 15 and continues to grow.

Levinsohn drew 55% of the nominations, followed by Barty (27%) and Pete Case (18%), CEO and founder of digital agency Gloo (the agency recently moved its headquarters to Johannesburg, but Case remains active in the Cape Town office).


Most integrated: Ogilvy Cape Town.

The agency pulled 92% of the nominations cast in this category. The only other agency to receive nominations was Machine.

One to watch

Machine Agency
One to watch: Machine.
Runner-up: MetropolitanRepublic Cape Town

Lead by Adrian Hewlett, Machine continues its evolution from its digital and BTL roots into an integrated agency. Recent account wins include the Miller Genuine Draft BTL account, the Nando’s digital account and integrated project work for Adidas.

Machine won more than 70% of the vote. Runner-up MetropolitanRepublic Cape Town took the rest.

*Only agencies or agency staff who received more than a single nomination were included when we worked out voting percentages.

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