by Herman Manson (@marklives) Today we reveal which agency creative leaders were 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: For 2016, Alistair King, King James Group founding creative partner, has been voted most-admired creative leader by agency leaders; Tseliso Rangaka, ECD at Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town, is our runner-up.
  • Johannesburg: Ahmed Tilly, joint CCO at FCB Africa, and Pepe Marais, CCO of Joe Public United, have tied for the top spot in the city in our latest poll.


The most-admired creative leader in South Africa

Alistair KingAlistair King
Founding creative partner
King James Group

Alistair King easily took the title as Cape Town’s most-admired creative leader in our regional 2016 poll, and takes the national title for a second year in a row. Although King James Group lagged on creative rankings (it ranked 15th in the Loeries Official Ranking 2016), the group’s work for retail giant Pick n Pay has been well received. His ability to infuse a new sense of energy into what are sometimes considered to be rather staid brands, such as those of PnP or Sanlam, earns him the title.

Previously: King took the crown in 2015. Chris Gotz, previously Ogilvy & Mather South Africa CCO, won in 2014 and again in 2013. King took the vote in our inaugural poll in 2012.



The runner-up

Ahmed TillyAhmed Tilly
Joint chief creative officer
FCB Africa

Ahmed Tilly, recently appointed joint CCO at FCB Africa, was the top creative leader in Jozi in 2016, according to our regional poll. Tilly left the agency he co-founded, Black River FC, to join fast growing FCB. He is best known for work he did on Nando’s, including the iconic “Last Dictator Standing” (our Ad of the Year for 2012) and the Nando’s diversity advert.


Graham Lang, CCO, Y&R South Africa, was our runner-up in 2015. In 2014, it was Pepe Marais, Joe Public founding partner and CCO. In 2013, it was Justin Gomes, FoxP2 ECD. Mike Schalit (Net#workBBDO South Africa), Chris Gotz (Ogilvy Cape Town), Pete Case (Gloo) and Tilly (then Black River FC) all tied as runners-up in 2012, our inaugural poll.


The contender

Molefi ThuloMolefi Thulo, creative director, Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg


In 2015, the contenders were Brett Morris, GCEO and ECD of FCB Africa; Jonathan Deeb, ECD of FCB Africa; Fran Luckin, ECD of Grey South Africa; Justin Gomes, ECD at FoxP2; and Pepe Marais, founding partner and CCO of Joe Public.



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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