by Herman Manson (@marklives) Today we reveal, as part of our annual Agency Leaders poll, which agencies 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 ad agency in Jozi

Joe Public United website carousel image Feb 2019Joe Public United

Joe Public United continues its dominance as Joburg’s most highly regarded advertising agency. It has won the accolade outright five times over the last seven years, last year sharing the top slot with The Odd Number.

In terms of creative performance, it was the no. 1 ranked agency at Loeries 2018, Assegai Awards 2018 and  New Generations Awards 2018, as well as Pendorings 2018.

In a tough economic year, the group grew revenue grew by 5% for the period Jan–Nov 2018 (compared to Jan–Dec 2017). Group staff numbers grew 8.5%, from 275 to 298 (compared to Jan–Dec 2017). Its current annual revenue band (not billings) sits between R200–R250m. New business gained included Altron, Edcon Active, SABMiller (Flying Fish and Castle Free), CTM, Converse, Tour Vest and Revlon.

It was announced in September 2018 that Khuthala Gala Holten, Joe Public deputy MD, had been promoted to MD of the ATL agency, while Xolisa Dyeshana took on creative leadership as ATL CCO. Pepe Marais (our joint 2018 Runner-up Most Admired Creative Leader for Jozi), Gareth Leck (our 2018 Runner-Up Most Admired Ad Agency Boss for Jozi) and Laurent Marty (group strategic director) moved across into group roles.

“Our greatest challenge has been to realign our people to our Growth purpose amidst the ongoing growth of our business,” says Marais, group chief creative officer. “Culture is the key ingredient to growing a sustainable business, and a key ingredient to our successes.”

Previously: In 2017, it was a tie between Joe Public United and The Odd Number. In 2016, it was FCB Africa. Between 2012 and 2015, Joe Public United won this accolade each year.


The runner-up

This year, Joe Public United led this regional poll by such a massive margin that we decided not to name a runner-up.

Previously: In 2017, it was FCB Africa. In 2016, Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg was our runner-up. In 2015 and 2014, FCB Africa was voted our runner-up. In 2013, it was Ireland/Davenport (now Collective ID). In 2012, our inaugural poll, the runners-up were Black River FC and M&C Saatchi Abel.


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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