by Herman Manson (@marklives) Today we reveal, as part of our annual Agency Leaders poll, which ad agency was most admired by its peers in Cape Town during the course of 2018.

Every year since 2012, MarkLives has been polling South Africa’s top ad 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. Next week will be the Joburg results, followed by the national results in two weeks’ time, and then our remaining categories.

The most-admired ad agency in Cape Town

Alistair King and James Barty outside King James Group Cape Town building

King James Group CT

King James Group CT took the top spot for 2018 after missing out in 2017 to 99c. The agency turned 20 during the course of 2018 and had plenty to celebrate.

Year-on-year growth at the Cape Town agency stood at 24%, while staff numbers grew to 195 (from 182 in December 2017). New clients signed in 2018 included TymeBank, Netflix, G-Star RAW, Sunglass Hut, Luxottica, USB-Executive Development, Trematon Capital, Stellenbosch Graduate Institute, Masterstart and Bluewater.

“We see the continued growth in specialist offerings within our collapsed structure — more agility, smaller budgets, with higher emphasis on measurement and ROI,” says James Barty, group MD and also our 2018 Most Admired Ad Agency Boss for Cape Town. “Economic recovery into 2019 may bring back more bravery into the work but, luckily, new technology brands like TymeBank, Netflix and the like will continue to invest in order to disrupt.”

“We seldom set expectation for ourselves but choose to rather do what intuitively feels right for us at the time and talk about it afterwards,” notes Alistair King, co-founder and CCO and our 2018 Runner-up Most Admired Creative Leader for Cape Town. “You cannot anticipate the decisions you’re going to make and the reasons why. But our immediate plans are to continue to bolster our senior management with the skills we currently feel we need to make us bullet-proof in a skill sense. We have a number of big appointments happening in the strategic and digital area in particular which will make us even stronger in this critical area of our business. We don’t anticipate 2019 being an easy year, but we’ll continue to tackle it as we have always done — with high ambition and energy.”

Creative highlights included the much-awarded 2-Minute Shower Songs and Uk’Shona Kwelanga WhatsApp drama, both for Sanlam.

Previously: In 2017, the most-admired agency title went to 99c. In 2015 and in 2016, King James was named our most-admired ad agency in Cape Town. In 2014, King James tied with Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town. In 2013, it was Ogilvy Cape Town. In 2012, our inaugural poll, it was King James.


The runner-up

King James Group CT completely dominated this regional poll, so there is no runner-up for 2018.

Previously: In 2017, the runner-up spot was shared by King James Group CT and Ogilvy Cape Town. Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town was also our runner-up in 2015 and in 2016. FoxP2 was runner-up in 2014 and 2013. In 2012, our inaugural poll, it was Ogilvy Cape Town.


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

— One subscription form, three newsletters: sign up now for the MarkLives newsletter, including Ramify headlines; The Interlocker, our new monthly comms-focused mailer; and Brands & Branding, launching soon!


Published by Herman Manson is edited by Herman Manson. Follow us on Twitter -

Online CPD Courses Psychology Online CPD Courses Marketing analytics software Marketing analytics software for small business Business management software Business accounting software Gearbox repair company Makeup artist