by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) The findings of agencyScope 2016 South Africa — the first ever in SA — are the result of detailed questionnaires to find out what marketers are looking for in their agencies. The research was conducted by SCOPEN in partnership with IAS in SA and then compared with 11 other countries in which SCOPEN operates.

This means that, for the first time ever, those agencies which have subscribed to SCOPEN’s confidential reports have management ‘blueprint’ to help chart the course of their agencies’ business development and growth.

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Using meticulous methodology fine-tuned over 30 years, SCOPEN ensured that 70 of the top 100 companies’ marketers were interviewed in face-to-face, in-depth interviews. In addition, some online surveys were done with agencies and with procurement specialists in order to have further information to round out the data.


Ten conclusions are tabled below:

  1. In the future, SA marketers would prefer to work with integrated agencies to solve their communication needs, rather than with different specialists for each discipline. This is in line with the rest of the world
  2. Creativity and strategic planning. Creativity is the key attribute to define the “ideal” creative or media agency. Equally important is the attribute of strategic planning for all agencies. This is described as the key attribute in agency selection.
  3. Quality of previous work and recommendations. These are key factors for marketers when drawing up a long list of possible agencies. Recommendations from friends and colleagues are also critically important in developing a list of agencies, as well as credentials and previous experience.
  4. Procurement. In 51% of negotiations with agencies, procurement is equally involved with marketing. Technical proposal accounts for 64% of the decision, with the financial proposal accounting for 36% of the final selection of an agency.
  5. Long lasting relationships. In SA, agency relationships are near the average global duration of five years.
  6. Contribution to business growth. SA marketers attribute 32.5% of their growth to their creative agencies and 34.5% to their media agencies. Brazil is the country where agency contributions are most valued — at 50% plus. SA comes second to Brazil in terms of this important aspect.
  7. Good service and satisfaction. SA agencies are evaluated very positively by their clients. Eight-five percent of marketers are satisfied with their creative agencies, while 89% are satisfied with their media agencies.
  8. Loyalty and predisposition to change. Despite the high levels of satisfaction, 20% of marketers recognise that they will be changing creative agencies, and the reasons cited include poor service, plus the need for new creative and innovative solutions.
  9. Most-admired campaigns and companies. In SA, Coca-Cola, Allan Gray and Santam are most admired by marketers for their advertising campaigns, while FNB, Coca-Cola, Unilever and Nando’s are most admired for their marketing.
  10. Challenges for the future. Marketers want their agencies to help them gain greater insights into consumer needs and behaviours and to have better knowledge of new media and opportunities, as well as understanding real ROI.

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Over and above these findings, agencyScope 2016 provided rankings for all agencies across a variety of attributes including spontaneous awareness, most attractive, ideal and overall market perception. These rankings are available to agencies who subscribe to their confidential report.


Johanna McDowellJohanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) is managing director of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS), and she is one of the few experts driving this mediation and advisory service in SA and globally. Currently she is running the IAS Marketers Masterclass, a programme consisting of masterclasses held in Cape Town and in Johannesburg. Twice a year she attends AdForum Worldwide Summits.

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