by Herman Manson (@marklives) We list the best-read media and marketing stories on MarkLives during 2019 for our #BigReads2019 series.


South African currency currency notes courtesy of Pixabay

#1. Salary Survey 2019: Who earns what in adland & marketing in South Africa

Recruitment agency, Ad Talent, released its 2019 salary survey for the communications industry.


Capitec Facebook cover image

#2. #BrandFocus: Capitec on branding a client-centric bank

Capitec’s unwavering commitment to improving the financial lives of its clients is fulfilled by following four fundamentals that govern the actions of everything the bank does, every day.


Ackermans I Am Me campaign from 99c #IAmMe

#3. #BrandFocus: Ackermans on owning the value-retail space, body positivity

Not many companies in South Africa are able to say they’ve lasted over 100 years and marketing director Ephraim Mamabolo is especially proud that the locally born Ackermans has stood the test of time. Ackermans has been in the value-retail space since its inception in 1916 and it’s this focus on delivering value to its customers that Mamabolo believes has been the cornerstone of the brand’s success and growth.


Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) logotype

#4. The continued decline of printed magazines & newspapers

Our stories analysing the quarterly magazine and newspaper circulation data, released by the ABC, were among the top-read media and marketing features published during 2019.

For the period July–September 2019 (ABC Q3 2019):


  • Total magazine circulation declined by 3.2% on the previous quarter, and by 20.9% on the prior year.
  • Consumer magazines declined by 5.4% on the previous quarter, and by 20.1% on the prior year.
  • B2B magazines declined by 3.5% on the previous quarter but increased by 3.3% on the prior year
  • Custom magazines declined by 1.2% on the prior quarter, and by by 24.3% on the prior year.
  • Free magazines declined by 7.6% on the prior quarter, and by 41.8% on the prior year. One large circulating title was discontinued.


  • Total newspaper circulation declined by 1.9% the previous quarter, and by 6% on the prior year
  • Daily newspapers declined 6.0% on the previous quarter, and by 11.7% on the prior year
  • Weekly newspapers declined by 1.3% on the previous quarter, and by 7.9% on the prior year
  • Weekend newspapers declined by 6.6% on the previous quarter, and by 14% on the prior year
  • Local newspapers increased by 0.2% on the previous quarter, and declined by 4.6% on the prior year.


Megan Power

#5. The Power Report

Megan Power has nearly 30 years’ experience working in South African media, including investigative journalism and news editing. Her consumer column, The Power Report, ran weekly in the Sunday Times for six years and found a new home on MarkLives towards the end of 2018. It was our top-read column section for 2019.


Bobby Amm

#6. The Martini Shot

Bobby Amm is chief executive of the Commercial Producers Association of South Africa (CPA), the trade association of production companies that produce television, cinema and internet commercials for the local and international market. She contributes “The Martini Shot” column monthly, covering developments, trends and insights into the commercial production and film services industries in South Africa, to MarkLives.


Katlego Moutlana

#7. #BigQ2019: Don’t get left behind in 2019

by Katlego Moutlana. 2019 is the year in which we expect local, African brands and businesses to use more forward-looking technologies to improve their customer experience and develop quality, well-designed products and strategies that will pull people from the rest of the world to play on our continent.


Cambridge English Dictionary screengrab of indispensable

#8. The Suit: Being indispensable

by Jason Harrison. 

Indispensable <adjective>: Something or someone that is so good or important that you could not possibly manage without it, him, or her. — Cambridge English Dictionary.

That one word is the only job spec you should ever need as a suit. Your title is not your job. Your job spec is not your job. If you want to make yourself valuable and a success, your job is to make yourself indispensable.

  • Further reading: The Suit — a column focused on inspiring and helping up-and-coming suits to be better at their craft.


Terence Neale adidas Originals ORIGINAL is never finished screengrab

#9. Brand Culture: Intertextuality in a modern world

by DK Badenhorst. Symbols don’t have meaning on their own. Consider simply a mark on a wall. A simple scrape that maybe stands out more than the next. It is difficult to see it as something that is meaningful, which is why it is, in the first place, difficult to see, even as a symbol. There is no real meaning behind it. From the indexical point of view, we may say that this is a symbol of a piece of steel passing against the wall but, other than that, it’s not a real trace of anything. When this scrape, however, is recognisable to the point that you would know if you saw it somewhere else, it becomes interesting.

Published in 2017, the story made it into our best-read features of 2019. Thanks, kids (and older folk) Googling intertextuality.


creativity-idea-inspiration and hourglass-tine-hours-clock both courtesy of Pixabay

#10. We should be paid for our thinking, not our time

by Pepe Marais. Only by fixing the calibre of our creative thinking can we begin to have the conversation around being paid for it.


smiley-emoticon-anger-angry courtesy of Pixabay

#11. Help! I’m an ‘adult’ in advertising & I’ve no idea what I’m doing

by Shannon Koor. So, you’re saying that an advertising degree and an advertising job are worlds apart, and that I should prepare to metaphorically jump off a cliff?? Asking for a friend. Oh, and I can work on something for months and the furthest it could get is the recycle bin? Cool, cool. Also, where is this place called “Further” that I’ve been told to push things to?

Hey, fellow young creatives. Let’s talk about it. The first year of advertising is tough. It’s confusing. It’s crazy intimidating and I need you to know that you’re not the only one who’s cried in the bathroom stall and questioned your life choices (more than once a day).

Published in December 2018, the story made it into our best-read features of 2019.


Gazette MAC Sector Charter BEE Good Practices Codes

#12. Black (owned) agencies left behind by MAC Charter

by Mxolisi G Buthelezi. In her book, “Who’s Afraid of Affirmative Action”, Christine Qunta laments that black people still find themselves in need of affirmative action. Adland is no exception.

See also


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

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