by Herman Manson (@marklives) Publicis Groupe Africa and a number of its agencies have undergone significant management changes. The group currently employs approximately 1800 people nationally across its various brands and a further 2000 people across the rest of the continent (it employed only 200 in 2010).

Departure of Kevin Tromp

With Kevin Tromp, chief executive officer, having left the group at the end of Q3 2017, John Dixon, former CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi South Africa, has been appointed as CEO: Publicis Groupe Africa — a newly constituted role.

Tromp had lead the rebuilding of Publicis Groupe Africa through an aggressive acquisition spree which saw it acquire OwenKessel (now Leo Burnett), Brandsrock (now Saatchi & Saatchi), Machine (now Publicis Machine) and Liquorice (now a DigitasLBi company), among others. Tromp’s biggest acquisition, The Creative Counsel, stumbled in 2016, which at the time lead to rumours that he would be leaving the group; Tromp denied that was the case at that point. The agency is believed to have regained its growth footing in the interim.

Miles Murphy, CEO of Liquorice DigitasLBi Africa, has taken on an additional group role and now serves as chief operating officer, Pubicis Groupe Africa. He manages the Africa network and is advancing the digitisation of group agencies. He also takes responsibility for Nurun, following the departure of Tom Fels for client side, where he now serves as CEO: hospitality of ‎Singita Luxury African Safari Lodges & Reserves.

End of earn-out periods

Fels is one of several group agency executives who departed after the end of their earn-out periods. Adrian Hewlett, Publicis Machine founder and CEO, is another, although he continues to consult for the group and is currently driving several group projects, including a move from six different agency locations to a single building in Cape Town. Neal Farrell has taken over the position of managing director for Publicis Machine.

Publicis Media saw its CEO, Kim Weissensee, leave at the end of 2017 to be replaced by Peter Monaise, who joined in January 2018.

Saatchi & Saatchi is being lead by Helen Ludwig as MD and Jonathan Beggs as executive creative director. Ludwig joined Saatchi & Saatchi as head of strategy and was appointed to the role of MD over a year ago. Both have been with the company for over three years.

Importance of agency brands

According to Dixon, the agency brands, which include Leo Burnett, Arc Worldwide, Epic MSL Group, Popimedia, Nurun, Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis Machine, remain important to the group but it’s also building out its group offering which sees agencies partner on big pitches. This assisted the group in winning both Old Mutual and Engen.

While it is important for the South African agencies to have access to an Africa-wide network, especially when it comes to winning SA multinational business, the Africa network is growing rapidly in its own right as investors eye East and West African markets, notes Dixon.


Herman Manson 2017Herman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of

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One reply on “EXCLUSIVE: Management shakeup at Publicis Groupe Africa, agencies”

  1. I wonder whether the Competition Commission has ever investigated these networks of agencies, which tend to charge very similar rates in many cases.

    It is also sad that this trend tends to lead to the decline of start-up and smaller agencies, who are often cheaper an closer to their clients and their needs.

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