by Herman Manson (@marklives) Today  we reveal which were the agencies most-admired by their peers in South Africa during 2016.

Every year since 2012, MarkLives has been polling South Africa’s top agency leaders to find out what they think of their competitors, whom they see as effective managers and great creative leaders, and where they believe their future competition is likely to come from. First we announced the 2016 regional results from Cape Town, and last week we announced the 2016 regional results from Johannesburg. This week is dedicated to national results.

2016 regional polls recap

  • Cape Town: Here the 2016 vote went to King James Group (Cape Town), with Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town the runner-up and FoxP2 contending.
  • Johannesburg: For 2016, the most-admired ad agency in Jozi was FCB Africa, with the runner-up being Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg.


The most-admired ad agency in South Africa

King James Cape Town. Source: Facebook.

King James Group

The agency most admired by its peers in Cape Town in 2016, votes by Joburg execs for King James Group took it over the line in our national poll. After successfully settling the Sanlam business, the independent agency took on another giant piece of business during 2016 in the form of Pick n Pay (the account is shared across both the Cape Town and Joburg offices).

The group concluded two acquisitions in 2016: SOC, now rebranded as Punk Media in Joburg, added digital media planning, buying and analytics capability, while Flnt&Tnder, which merged into Punk Jozi in a share swop deal, provided an empowerment impetus.

The group grew by 34% (GP/revenue) vs previous year (only six months of PnP revenue).



Joe Public United took top honours in 2015. From 2012, up to and including 2014, O&M Cape Town was the top-rated agency in SA for three years running.


The runner-up

FCB Johannesburg

FCB Africa

FCB Africa emerged as the most most-admired ad agency in our 2016 Jozi poll, and its executives featured in both our polls for most-admired creative leader in SA (Ahmed Tilly, FCB Africa joint CCO, named as runner-up) and agency boss in SA (GCEO and GCCO Brett Morris).

Our poll took place shortly before the FM AdFocus Awards announced FCB Africa as its large agency of the year and the agency gained significant momentum after winning the massive Barclays Africa Group consumer advertising account. It also completed an important BBBEE deal that saw it becoming majority black-owned and with increased black-female ownership.


In 2015, King James Group was our runner-up. In 2014, results replicated 2013 exactly — with Joe Public Group as runner-up and joint second runners-up were FoxP2 and King James. In 2012, our inaugural poll, the runner-up was King James Group.


The contenders

FoxP2 logo Joe Public United

FoxP2 & Joe Public United


In 2015, FCB Africa, Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town and Y&R South Africa were all named contenders.


How the poll works

Towards the end of 2016, South Africa’s agency leaders were invited to nominate their most-admired agency in SA, the most-admired creative leader in SA and the most-admired agency boss in SA. 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. Nobody could nominate his or her own agency or staff members. All the nominations were then tallied up for the final result. The editors of MarkLives had a single vote in the poll. The most admired agency of the year is disqualified from the One to Watch category; votes cast in its favour in this category is discarded.

Note: Runner-up(s) will only be named if they achieved a good nomination tally relative to the winner’s position. Contenders are named if they stood out significantly above other nominees, but weren’t able to close in on the winner’s tally.

See previous poll results for South Africa:


Herman MansonHerman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of

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