by MarkLives (@marklives) Avatar Agency Group holding company, M&N Brands, has acquired a 51% stake in Espresso DBN, an independent Durban-based ad agency. This beefs up Avatar’s Durban offering, launched in late 2019, and grows its below-the-line and shopper marketing capabilities.


The deal will result in Espresso DBN being rebranded Avatar DBN. Antony Ellis, who co-founded Espresso DBN with Natalie French in 2001, continues as managing director; French remains executive creative director and will work closely with Veli Ngubane, Avatar Agency Group chief creative officer. They will also be joined by Ayanda Dlamini, Avatar business unit director, in the new operation.

Avatar DBN’s client list currently includes Snowflake, Iwisa No.1, Nyala, BB Bakeries, Blue Ribbon, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Nivea, Eucerin, Labello, Lil-lets, Mondi, Universal and Paramount Pictures Africa.

Comments Zibusiso Mkhwanazi, M&N Brands GCEO, “While we see the continued pressure of covid-19 on media and advertising spend in general, research indicates an upsurge in food brand investment. Espresso’s FMGC expertise, combined with Avatar’s digital pedigree and broad market insight, will bring something truly unique for our clients.”

“Spearhead the change”

“We believe there’s a need for change, improvement and a higher level of creative performance from Durban agencies, and it’s our intention to spearhead that change by challenging ourselves to adopt new process, new skills and new thinking,” says Ellis.

“We will be expanding our strategic scope to deliver work that’s more insightful, more meaningful and more relevant. With the move to Avatar, we’re also fully embracing digital as a critical channel to meet our clients’ consumers in the palm of their hands, with smart, original creative work that delivers impactful ROI.”

The launch of a fully resourced Durban office grows Avatar’s staff base to 100 employees across different agencies in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

See also


MarkLives logoSign up now for the MarkLives newsletter, including headlines and become a MarkLives Member, too, to ensure continued coverage.


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