by Herman Manson (@marklives) Today we reveal, as part of our annual Agency Leaders poll, which agency bosses were most admired by their peers in Johannesburg during the course of 2018!

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.

The most-admired agency boss in Jozi

Brett Morris
Group CEO & group CCO
FCB Africa

Brett Morris November 2018Brett Morris has retained his spot as Joburg’s most-admired agency boss — a position he has held since 2014! While revenue and staff growth were static in 2018, that’s not bad going, considering the state of the economy.

“It’s an exciting era, technology and data continually present a myriad of new opportunities for us to be more creative,” says Morris on the year ahead. “But we need to make sure creativity sits at the centre of what we do, otherwise we give up our biggest competitive advantage. It’s not a choice between creativity and technology but rather how one makes the other more powerful. Creativity is already powerful but imagine creativity to the power of technology. That’s what we are obsessed with right now.”

During 2018 the agency added Fanta, Beko and Malibu as new clients.

Previously: In 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014, it was also Morris; in 2013 and 2012, our inaugural poll, it was Gareth Leck, chief executive officer and co-founder of Joe Public.


The runner-up

Gareth Leck
Chief executive officer
Joe Public United

Gareth LeckJoe Public’s Leck is back in the top two of our Johannesburg poll after missing out last year, for the first time since 2014. The agency, admired for its independence, creative credentials and ability to grow staff and promote internally, continued to improve its creative and financial performance during the course of 2018.

Also in 2018, Joe Public deputy MD Khuthala Gala Holten stepped up to become MD and, together with ATL CCO Xolisa Dyeshana, took full leadership of the ATL specialist agency within Joe Public United. Leck, alongside co-founder Pepe Marais and group strategic director Laurent Marty, moved across into group roles, to “further advance seamless integration across all seven of its specialist offerings to clients.”

“Joe Public took a big step up in terms of delivering an improved level of creative output in 2018 and we intend on further improving on this foundation,” says Leck. “I believe that 2019 will be as challenging as it was in 2018, if not more, and, from what I can see, the agencies that are winning are the ones that are delivering the highest levels of service, strategic thinking and creative output. That is where we will focusing our energy in 2019 as this is the only thing we can control.”

Previously: In 2017, Alistair Mokoena, Ogilvy & Mather South Africa CEO, was our runner-up. In 2016, 2015 and 2014, Leck was runner-up. In 2013, it was Graham Warsop, The Jupiter Drawing Room founder and chairman. In 2012, our inaugural poll, it was Nunu Ntshingila (then Ogilvy SA).

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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