#AdForumSummit London: Gender balance a focus

by Johanna McDowell. There was a controversial start to the London summit, where comments from the media and participants focused on the huge bias towards male leadership.

Not a boom, real growth

By Herman Manson (@marklives) The African continent isn’t quite the growth honeypot ad agencies had been hoping for. That said – it’s certainly a growth market. While it doesn’t match the growth rates in Asia or even Latin America, listed agency networks seem to have decided any growth is good growth given the state of especially their European operations. North Africa remains fragile – ZenithOptimedia forecast only 1% growth in ad revenue in the Middle East & North Africa as political turmoil post the Arab Spring continues to rock the region. The company expects 2%-3% annual growth from 2013 to 2015.

Growth in adspend globally is predicted by ZenithOptimedia to hit 4.1% in 2013 and 5.6% in 2015. South Africa will be one of the top ten contributors to that growth between 2012 and 2015.

South Africa in the South, Kenya in the East and either Nigeria or Ghana in the West of Africa generally gets the most buzz from agencies seeking investment in the region.

M&C Saatchi launches new kind of media agency in South Africa

by Herman Manson (@marklives) UK based agency network M&C Saatchi has launched a new media agency in South Africa called M&C Saatchi Connect. The new agency will be lead by Martin MacGregor and share offices with M&C Saatchi’s South African agency M&C Saatchi Abel.

MacGregor was the MD at Nota Bene MEC Cape Town before he joined M&C Saatchi Abel as a managing partner in early 2012.

M&C Saatchi Connect is a homegrown agency – MacGregor isn’t launching an existing M&C Saatchi agency into the country. MacGregor believes the new agency will challenge the status quo in terms of the relationship between media and creative agencies.

EXCLUSIVE: M&C Saatchi set to launch new Africa agency

by Herman Manson (@marklives) M&C Saatchi is preparing to launch a new Africa agency. The venture, provisionally called M&C Saatchi Abel Africa, will see new affiliate offices launched or acquired in Nigeria and Kenya.

The London based M&C Saatchi group will then have an on the ground precise in East, West and Southern Africa. It already has offices in Cape M&C SaatchiTown and Johannesburg through M&C Saatchi Abel.

Moray MacLennan, worldwide chief executive of M&C Saatchi, revealed that the new agency will be driven from the M&C Saatchi Abel office in Cape Town, which is in the process of recruiting an executive to lead the initiative.

The South African business is the fastest growing in the M&C Saatchi network and has grown from a staff component of 63 at his last visit to South Africa in August 2011 to over 150 today. Revenue (note: not billings) has passed the R80 million mark and its been winning business including Edgars Department Stores and Nedbank’s below-the-line account.

MacLennan says the local agency has been more successful than expected. It made a loss in its first year, turned a small profit in 2011 and is expected to do well in 2012. While margins are still substantially lower than in the European business he expects it will keep building to around 15%. Fast growth often translates into the use of more freelancers at a greater cost than permanent staff which impacts negatively on margins, says MacLennan.

In its Interim Results for the six months ended 30 June 2012 the group reported like-for-like revenues up 146% to £2.8m in the ME and Africa region and a profit of £330k.

On animosity by parts of the local industry aimed at the South African agency MacLennan shrugs and says M&C Saatchi used to be booed in London – its means you are making an impact and scaring the competition.

M&C Saatchi Abel gets thumbs up from Moray MacLennan

M&C Saatchi Abel is buzzing. The agency, which launched in early 2010 with no clients signed up front but a powerful management team, has grown to more than 63 staffers working with 29 client organisations. It just won the account for Geely – the Chinese auto manufacturer that also owns Volvo. The agency recently took another floor in the block in Cape Town where it is headquartered.

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