by MarkLives (@marklives) We pull insights based upon our best read-stories regarding the South African creative industry’s new wave of startup agencies.

August 2015
New boutique media agency wants to liven up its sector

Limelight logoMedia research needs to start with the consumer at the centre of everything,” says Ross Sergeant. “Then the brand, then the media opportunity.”

The agency has access to all the industry media tools: AdEx, Telmar, AMPS, TGI, AdEx and RAMS. It is also picking talent whom Sergeant believes are dynamic and with a strong strategic orientation. He wants the office to feel more like that of an ad agency and less than a “glorified smoking-room”.


November 2015
Pangea Ultima wants to innovate the agency model

Pangea Ultima executive leadership: Gareth Lessing (creative partner), James Cloete (creative partner) and Haydn Townsend (chairman and CEO).According to Haydn Townsend, the industry is suffering from disintermediation: clients are setting up their own shops or going directly to production houses, bypassing traditional agencies.

Pangea Ultima wants to flip fragmentation on its head by focusing upon integration without sacrificing specialisation. It puts Pangea Ultima at the centre as a strategic agency, the single interface with clients which then leverages relationships with specialist agencies to manage execution.


November 2015
3Verse — the tale of two suits and Ivan Johnson

3Verse TeamTwo suits don’t an ad agency make. Andrew Alexander once worked with Kay Orlandi at Saatchi & Saatchi; he left to start his own video-production company.

Orlandi, who had moved up to business unit leader at Saatchi & Saatchi, wanted to launch her own agency. The two soon combined forces to launch 3verse from a holiday flat in Cape Town owned by Alexander’s family. Then they found that no creative = no clients….

…According to Johnson, the agency consists of a small group of skilled professionals who have taken a hands-on approach to finding communication solutions. Clients won’t be fobbed off to a junior team [there is none — ed]. He questions big agency structures: what does an ECD do today, he asks ? He just went from meeting to meeting, until he hardly felt like a creative any more.


April 2015
New startup agency Area 213 buying into ecommerce plays

Area 213 logoArea 213 is also setting money aside to actively invest in ecommerce start-ups; Ben Wren and Candice Whisgary are pro-actively approaching ecommerce business as investors. As partners, they bring both cash and communications expertise into these businesses, while staying at the cutting-edge of ecommerce technology.

It’s a long-term play intended to add value to both Area 213 and the ecommerce businesses they invest in [it’s also putting their money where their mouths are — ed]

…Wren predicts 2015 will be the year of new agency startups. Technology has changed the agency environment and allows for a new breed of integrated, tech-savvy and innovative agencies to emerge. Client frustration with agency mergers (costs, renewed focus on profit margins, staff churn) also has the potential to put a lot of new business on the market.


April 2015
Bain & Bunkell — working for the consumer

Simon Bunkell and Jonathan BainIn its credentials document, Bain & Bunkell says that, as an agency, “they form respectful relationships with their clients and they know a lot about brands. But they never forget what all this is ultimately about. The people doing the shopping.

The recent vacuuming up of independent agencies by global networks, says Simon Bunkell, has opened up a lot of space in the market for new entrants.

The duo has set out on an aggressive new business-acquisition strategy, identifying people with whom they’d like to collaborate on future projects.


October 2015
Kilmer & Cruise — the maverick startup agency

Danny de Nobrega and Francois WesselsDanny de Nobrega had become disenchanted with the breakdown in client/agency relationships. One night, he called up Francois Wessels to tell him they should quit their jobs and try something new; it took a weekend to put the basics of the new agency in place.

Wessels serves as executive creative director and De Nobrega as managing director. The agency has six people on board and expects to grow to 10 by the end of 2015.

De Nobrega says he is focused upon building positive, collaborative and transparent relationships with clients. In its first year, the agency has committed to doing away with industry jargon and buzzwords in its pitches and conversations. Clients may expect a discount every time the agency breaks its own rule. Wessels describes jargon as unnecessary padding created to confuse clients.


July 2015
Utopia — the agency Graham Warsop didn’t know he launched

Utopia logo

With Utopia (named after Sir Thomas More’s 1516 book “Utopia”) Carl Cardinelli says he and Graham Warsop want to build an agency where people grow and don’t have to be ‘bought’. It’s a place where people should want to stay.

Now that the agency has built up a body of work, it’s taking steps to establishing its own brand in the marketplace. Cardinelli wants Utopia to be an agency with a global positioning, as its client base already indicates.

The agency is also willing to trade time and expertise for an equity stake in startups, says Cardinelli. Utopia created a brand story for an international mainstream product based in the US, and has subsequently been contracted as its global communications agency. An equity deal has been negotiated, ensuring a win-win partnership for the foreseeable future of both the brand and the agency.


November 2015
Wayne Naidoo on new agency Duke: “We sell”

DUKE group picDuke sets up what Wayne Naidoo refers as a “brains trust” for each client: a programme that brings people with industry experience to counsel the business. They can talk performance and portfolio positioning, rather than billboards, he quips.

Wayne refers to “creative collaboration” when he discusses the outsourced component of Duke’s output.

Another offering is Six Degrees, which connects heads of companies to help solve business problems. Naidoo also chairs YPO, the Young President’s Organisation, a peer network of chief executives and business leaders.


April 2015
Gavin Rooke launches The New Order

The New Order

The New Order is set up to leverage design (in its broadest sense) as the next wave to shape business and marketing.

According to Gavin Rooke, the most obvious example of the role of design in business and marketing is the world’s most valuable company. The New Yorker recently named industrial designer Sir Jonathan Ive “Apple’s greatest product”. Design stretched through product, retail and user experience, to name but a few examples. Rooke sees a design-lead agency solving a lot of business problems across multiple touch points.

Any agency today pretty much consists of a bunch of specialists sitting in silos/categories that make up a ‘full-service’ offering. In reality, consumers don’t live their lives in categories and they don’t consume media that way. Nobody steps from an ATL world into a BTL world — the transfer is smooth and seamless.


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Published by Herman Manson is edited by Herman Manson. Follow us on Twitter -

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