by Herman Manson (@marklives) Today we reveal, as part of our annual Agency Leaders poll, which agency is considered to have contributed the most to agency diversity and transformation in the minds of their peers in Joburg during 2018!

This agency, in the minds of its regional peers, made the most-significant contribution to agency diversity and transformation in the City of Gold. While many of our voters would have focused on BBBEE as a primary criteria informing their votes, a positive contribution to gender and LGBTQI diversity came into play in some votes. While many of those polled noted BBBEE and gender equality as key metrics, they also noted a lack of information into LGBTQI diversity at agencies.

Instead of only naming the agency here, we invited it to share with us what agency diversity and transformation means to it — the business, its people and its clients.

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. Last week we revealed the Cape Town results, and the national results come next week, and our remaining categories the week after.

Agency diversity & transformation (Jozi)

FCB Africa

Brett Morris November 2018
Brett Morris, FCB Africa GCEO and GCCO.

by Brett Morris (@BrettWrote) Transformation is an ongoing pursuit for us and is all about authentic transformation and true ownership. So, today we have shareholding across three critical pillars: staff, investors and our broad based partner. In total, we are 55% black-owned and 32% black female-owned, and we are a Level 1 BBBEE contributor. We are also currently the only large black-owned network agency not reliant on modified flowthrough.

We are continually driving this agenda and we’ve managed to move the needle significantly every year in terms of number of black staff, up from 56% in 2016 and to 64% in 2018. We have 64% female staff, also with a small increase year-on-year. And, at the most-senior level where we have historically been most under-represented, we have also significantly increased the number of black executives, with 80% of all executive appointments in the last two years being black. In addition, 70% of all appointments across the entire group have been BBBEE candidates.

But that really is just the beginning of the journey and we’re far from done. Our ultimate goal is to become a model for authentic transformation in South Africa, by using all our knowledge and creativity to help redress the injustices of the past and create an inclusive environment that is sustainable for all South Africans. In order to do this, we need to create an environment where all our people feel completely safe and secure to express their unique views and that they belong to an inclusive workplace that is reflective of all our country’s diversity. This has to be a focused and daily pursuit.

To this end, not a day goes by without us having a deliberate conversation about how we address the needs and desires of SA’s consumers in a way that authentically resonates with them. Ultimately, we are here to build more legacy-making, equity-building campaigns for our clients — this a hallmark of FCB Africa and something that will always drive us. Lighting our fire, however, is our desire for the agency’s makeup to mirror that of the country’s population.

Brett Morris is group CEO and group CCO of FCB Africa, and our 2018 Most Admired Ad Agency Boss for Jozi (a position he has held since 2014).


Previously: In 2017, the first time we ran this specific category, it was Collective ID.


How the poll works

In November 2018, we invited a panel of 120 agency executives — creative and management, and ranging over a wide spectrum from small- and medium-sized to network agencies — to nominate their most-admired agency and agency leaders regionally (for Johannesburg or Cape Town) and nationally (South Africa). Execs couldn’t nominate their own agencies or staff members. All the nominations were then tallied up for the final result. The editors of MarkLives held two votes in the final poll.

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 stand out significantly above other nominees but weren’t able to close in on the winner’s tally. The most-admired agency of the year is disqualified from the One to Watch category; votes cast in its favour in this category are discarded.

See also


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

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