Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

FoxP2, one of SA’s most successful independent advertising agencies, has been bought by Japanese-based media and communications group Dentsu Aegis Network.

Subject to approval from SA’s competition regulators, Dentsu Aegis and its empowerment trust will acquire a majority stake in FoxP2, which has a reputation as one of SA’s most creative agencies. Its clients include Hyundai, Budget Insurance, Mugg & Bean, FNB and Stanlib.

No value has been announced yet for the deal, which includes FoxP2 offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Agency MD Charl Thom said he and the 12-year-old agency’s other founding shareholders — Andrew Whitehouse, Justin Gomes and Grant Jacobsen — would remain investors and had no plans to leave.

Dentsu Aegis, a media and digital marketing communications company, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Japanese advertising and public relations firm Dentsu. Its companies in SA include the Carat and Vizeum media-strategy agencies and Posterscope out-of-home communications agency.

Several foreign networks are known to have approached FoxP2 down the years. Thom said carrots in the agreed deal included FoxP2’s status as the only creative advertising agency in Dentsu Aegis’s South African network and access to the new parent’s media thinking, data analytics, experiential marketing background, digital resources and social media skills.

There is also the chance for FoxP2 to pick up business from the Dentsu Aegis client stable, though Thom said: "I’m sure we will have to win clients … by proving ourselves through the quality of our work."

FoxP2 was also attracted by Dentsu Aegis’s presence in 46 African markets.

"The powerful and legitimate network that the Dentsu Aegis Network has built across sub-Saharan Africa is of the utmost strategic importance to us," Thom said.

It’s rare for successful South African agencies to remain independent forever. London-based M&C Saatchi bought the Levergy sponsorship agency in 2017. Others to surrender to foreign suitors in recent years include The Jupiter Drawing Room, Machine, Quirk, Hello Computer, MetropolitanRepublic and Ireland-Davenport.

However, as the rapid fall from grace of several of these shows, foreign investment is no guarantee of success.


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