EXCLUSIVE: WPP confirms Collective ID closure
by Herman Manson (@MarkLives) Collective ID, an ad agency best known for its former incarnation as Ireland/Davenport, has stopped trading. This has been confirmed by Joanna Oosthuizen, Ogilvy director PR and influence for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
Ireland/Davenport was launched by John Davenport and Philip Ireland in 2006 and worked with a range of blue-chip clients, including BMW, Investec, Vodacom and South African Tourism — Ireland left the agency in 2016 and Davenport in 2018. After a string of account losses in 2015 and 2016, the agency rebranded to Collective ID in October 2017. It also became majority-black-owned under the leadership of Brenda Khumalo, with Standard Bank’s retail account as its major client.
The Standard Bank business made up around 95% of Collective ID’s revenue. It lost that business in June 2019, following an extensive realignment of its agencies by Standard Bank. The setback was followed by the departure of Khumalo in July of the same year; she has since joined Demographica, a full-service B2B marketing agency.
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According to Oosthuizen, WPP agreed to support the agency for another six months as it set out rebuild itself yet again, naming Zanele Ntulini as its new managing director in August 2019. But the agency wasn’t winning enough new business fast enough to make it sustainable.
Oosthuizen says closing down a once-iconic agency wasn’t an easy decision to make (it was the 2018 AdFocus Small Advertising Agency of the Year, too); however, WPP couldn’t support the business indefinitely.
In mid-2018, it employed more than 30 people — by its close, only four. Its last day of trading was 26 March 2020, and then, at midnight on that Thursday, the national covid-19 lockdown came into effect and one of South Africa’s most-storied agencies disappeared for good.
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Herman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of MarkLives.com.