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While partnering with black-owned businesses or agencies is increasingly becoming a prerequisite for all manner of activities and ventures, finding suitable partners is no easy task, resulting in many missed opportunities for SA agencies and marketers. In a bid to combat this challenge, the Independent Agency Search & Selection Company (IAS) conducted extensive research and created an “A-list” database that provides industry players with access to over 50 black- and black female-owned agencies in 13 key sectors of the marketing communications industry. The database features suppliers, businesses and agencies.

The industry is hungry for transformation and diversity, particularly in terms of agencies that are owned by black females (which are far outweighed by those owned by black males and even white females) and the list is a response to requests from marketers.

The list continues to grow. At present  it features businesses operating in the following sectors: above the line, below the line, digital, point of sale, shopper marketing, activations, design &  branding, media buying & planning, public relations, commercial & video production, events & event management, research and printing & production.

The criteria upon which inclusion on the list is based include the location of the agency, its shareholding structure, its current BEE status (as well as its expected status in terms of new BEE codes) as well as details of the leadership team, the size of the agency and its latest credentials. The list is continually updated and is available to marketers via subscription. Because the information is supplied on a nonexclusive basis, the IAS has managed to keep costs low for participating marketers, and according to founder and MD at the IAS, Johanna McDowell, the fee charged allows the marketer access to the information for a 12-month period.

Agencies wishing to be included in the list need to contact the IAS, which will then send questions relating to agency type, size and client list as well as ownership structure.  Once this information has been provided to the IAS, the agency or business will be placed on the list free of charge.

As part of the service, the IAS will facilitate introductions to agencies and suppliers on a case-by-case basis for clients who express the desire for it. All contact during the initial stages will be channelled by the IAS.

McDowell says the list creates limitless opportunities for black-owned agencies, as well as for marketers, to forge partnerships that will allow them exposure to both local and international clients looking to gain a foothold in the local market.

The big take-out: The IAS has compiled a list of black-owned and black female-owned agencies in the SA marketing and communications industry, available on an annual subscription basis.

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