by Herman Manson (@marklives) Experiential and activations agency, The Creative Counsel Group (TCC), has been bought by Publicis Africa Group (PAG), Publicis Groupe’s African agency network. The acquisition is believed to be the largest agency buyout ever to happen in South Africa, with an unconfirmed valuation of between R1bn and R1.5bn.

The Creative Counsel Group is the largest advertising agency in the country, too, with revenue of more than R600m a year. It employs more 1000 permanent employees — plus thousands of freelancers at any given time, depending upon the time of year and the number of campaigns running. Friends Ran Neu-Ner and Gil Oved launched the agency in 2001.

The Creative Counsel logoKey component

TCC will make up a key component in the growth strategy of PAG that will be rolling out the agency into a number of African markets. Currently, PAG has agencies in 35 African countries. TCC has already opened an office in Mozambique and will open in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Botswana over the course of the next 6–12 months, in conjunction with current PAG agencies, says co-CEO Oved.

Kevin Tromp, PAG CEO, says he was particularly impressed with the sophisticated logistical and operational systems in place at TCC. These, according a company profile provided by TCC, include systems and technology that report on everything in real time, from sales results, quality and quantity of engagements, and intensive tracking of promoters and field marketers to refining of messages and communication to consumers, based upon where they are and how they respond.

Publicis Africa Group logo“The combination of TCC’s scale, massively entrepreneurial culture, and intimate understanding of the South African consumer at every level, is an excellent complement to Publicis’ global communication sophistication, deep digital orientation and multinational mentality,” says Tromp. “This union creates the most-powerful activation and experiential entity on the continent, focused on bringing brands to life in a culturally relevant fashion, for our clients and their consumers.”

Deal clinchers

According to Oved, the deal follows a roster of meetings and a host of rival bids, but ultimately, PAG’s understanding of TCC’s vision and its commitment to investing not only in Africa but also in other emerging markets, plus its focus on digital and a good cultural fit, clinched the deal.

While TCC has scale in SA, its attempts to establish offices in other African countries have ended in failure several times, says Oved. The agency realised it required backing from a network with a wide African footprint which knows how to establish and manage offices on the ground in new markets.

Publicis Groupe logoInvestments in other African markets, as well as the broader emerging market landscape, will be key to growing TCC. The deal brings with it access to digital development partners, an infusion of global expertise, best practice and financial backing to build a global business.

The Creative Counsel Group will come under the remit of Publicis Groupe’s largest agency network — Publicis Worldwide — headed by global CEO, Arthur Sadoun. Neu-Ner and Oved will report to Tromp.

Key TCC clients include Vodacom, Unilever, Danone and Nokia. The agency runs 200–300 campaigns each year, and claims to hold a 50% plus share of the FMCG promotions market.


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