by Herman Manson (@marklives) We list the best-read media and marketing stories on MarkLives during 2016.

1. Television ratings

Every week we reveal the hottest primetime television shows on South African television channels, using BRCSA data. #SAtvRatings

Remote control courtesy of Pixabay


2. Circulation math

Our stories analysing the quarterly magazine and newspaper circulation data released by the ABC, as well as our Big Magazine and Newspaper lists, were among the top-read features published during 2016.

ABC Q3 2016 stories:

ABC Analysis Q3 2016: The biggest-circulating newspapers in South Africa
ABC Analysis Q3 2016: The biggest-circulating consumer mags in South Africa

ABC Q2 2016 stories:

ABC Analysis Q2 2016: The biggest-circulating newspapers in South Africa
ABC Analysis Q2 2016: The biggest-circulating consumer mags in South Africa

ABC Q1 2016 stories:

ABC Analysis Q1 2016: The biggest-circulating newspapers in South Africa
ABC Analysis Q1 2016: The biggest-circulating consumer mags in South Africa

ABC results magazines November 2016 slider


3. Capitec’s 6 Ps of marketing

Published in 2012, the story remains one of our best-read features, month in and month out, year after year.

“Consumer discontent opened up the market for this ‘straight talking organisation’, according to Carl Fischer, Head Executive of Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Capitec. Fischer says he has no idea how the Big 4 justify their costs and business practices and, increasingly, consumers don’t either. Capitec wants to change banking ‘like changed the airline market’, says Fischer. That is – it wants to bring about fundamental change to this market.”

Also see Capitec’s marketing team on the Capitec way


4. Shelf Life: Cadbury 5Star comes to South Africa

Our weekly pick of all things new — product, packaging, design, insight, food, décor and more! The best-read issue appeared on July 12 and featured news on:

• Mondelēz South Africa bringing Cadbury 5Star to sub-Saharan Africa
• Hellmann’s mayo mobilises with Mbongiworks
• A new face for Hunter’s cider with 140 BBDO and Plank Film Productions

Shelf Life slider 12 July 2016


6. Motive: Death of the specialist ad person

by David Smith. So the old specialist ad person is a thing of the past, if the trade press and the chitter-chatter on the street are to be believed. Relegated to the rubbish heap, declared a relic, to be replaced by the hybrid. A shiny young thing who does it all. A sort of creative spoodle or labradooble who doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as one thing, claiming he or she will get bored by specialising in one field. As if writing or designing or photography is like working a position on a production line, screwing the caps on toothpaste tubes, or drilling holes, something that may be mastered in a day and feels mundane after a week.

I am not one to stand in the way of progress, so let me write a eulogy to the specialist adman, and let’s be done with this anachronism once and for all.

Farewell, my old friend, I will always remember you and your doddering ways…

alcohol hangover event death drunk courtesy of slider


7. Interview: Julia Anastasopoulos on building brand SuzelleDIY

by Herman Manson. Julia Anastasopoulos — the actress, comedian, illustrator and designer better known as her alter ego, Suzelle, from hit YouTube show SuzelleDIY — talks to us about partnering with brands, monetising her show and expanding the content channels of her production company, Sketchbook Studios.

Sketchbook Studios filming Suzelle DIY


8. Programmatic network for fashion, beauty launched in SA

by Herman Manson. A new programmatic advertising platform, targeting the fashion, beauty and fragrance industries, has been launched by digital agency, Amorphous. FashionBeauty.Network (FB.N) integrates data sets of the client (advertiser) with those supplied by third parties (media platforms) to range over multiple digital-media properties.

The platform, which targets South African consumers interested in style, fashion, health and shopping, already reaches 2m unique browsers and 6m impressions, according to Amorphous CEO, Grant Shippey.

Fashion Beauty dot Network homepage


9. Agency commission falling away on rate cards

A number of media owners have announced they will exclude the long established 16.5% ‘early settlement discount’ or ‘agency commission’ from their rate cards.


10. Agency Leaders 2015: Most desired brand, pitch consultant, org, awards

In our annual Agency Leaders poll, we also have been asking ad execs to take a broader view of the marketing environment and nominate the brand they would most want their agencies to work on (must operate in South Africa and excluding their current clients); which pitch consultant they would recommend to a client; and the industry body and industry awards show they rate the most highly.

Look out for our Agency Leaders’ Most Admired 2016, starting Monday, 31 January 2017!

MarkLives Agency Leaders’ Most-Admired Poll 2015


11. The Big Q: How to appoint an ad agency

With adspend once again under review in 2016, brands were moving business while focusing upon cutting costs, increasing adspend ROI and reducing the number of outside relationships they need to maintain. What did they learn in their search for new agencies and agency relationships? What did  agencies learn about their clients? And what’s driving modern client/agency relationships? We emailed a panel of key industry executives — Monalisa Sibongile Zwambila, David Wingfield, Zibusiso Mkhwanazi and Jacques Burger — for their take. Here are their responses.

The Big Q: David Wingfield, Zibusiso Mkhwanazi, Monalisa Sibongile Zwambila and Jacques Burger


12. Absa says its sticking to red after new logo surfaces online

by Herman Manson. Would Absa be changing its corporate colours from red to Barclay’s blue? That’s the question several social media users, including radio presenter Samantha Cowen, asked in December 2015 , following the opening of an Absa concept store sporting a blue Absa logotype alongside Barclay’s famous eagle. However, Absa then issued a statement, saying the photo was of a concept store opened at Nicolway Shopping Centre in Bryanston, Johannesburg, and that it was being used to experiment with signage, furniture etc.


13. #3D: #2AppOrNot2App

First published in 2015, it remains on our best read list.

by Prakash Patel. Having raised this title question over two years ago, again last year, and now for a third time in 2015, I can confidently commit to an answer. In short, yes, if it’s relevant and, no, if it’s not. The last thing you want to do is to waste money or build one for #appsake, so the question we should rather be asking is: which factors determine this yes or no?


14. Agencies buy into freelance economy with NoSweat service

by Herman Manson. South African ad agencies have been increasingly buying into the freelance economy as more talent head out on their own in pursuit of different lifestyles or better work/life balance. At the same time, agencies have been feeling the squeeze as the economy struggles with minimal growth and political uncertainty. These factors created space for freelance employment agency,, to launch its web-based service connecting agencies with creative freelancers in September 2015. slider


15. The Big Q: Mike Abel on business, politics & matters of conscience

At a time of political crisis, should corporate leaders expose their political thinking and address issues of national importance? Or is it too risky for brands to manage? We emailed a panel of key industry executives for their take and we published their responses over a week late August 2015. First up was Mike Abel, founder and CEO of M&C Saatchi Abel Group, South Africa/Africa Region.

The Big Q: Erna George on taking a stand vs making a difference
The Big Q: Joshin Raghubar on how business leaders can speak up
The Big Q: Odette van der Haar on political minefields & the bottom line

The Big Q: Joshin Raghubar, Erna George, Odette van der Haar, Mike Abel


Herman MansonHerman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of He was the founding editor of media.toolbox (1998–2006) and Mobile.Works, and the co-founder of Brand magazine. He has served on the editorial boards of The Journal for Convergence, as well as of Fast Company South Africa. Winner of the 2011 Vodacom Social Media Journalist of the Year award, he was also a finalist twice in the Highway Africa Award for the Innovative Use of New Media in Africa (2003 and 2004). Over his 20-year-plus career, Herman has contributed to numerous journals and websites in South Africa and abroad, including the Mail & Guardian, .net, Intelligence, AdVantage, Men’s Health, Computer World and African Communications. He has consulted on web architecture to several financial institutions.

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