For the first time PHD Media SA has won the AdFocus Media Agency of the Year award. In a coup for PHD, which is part of the Omnicom Media Group (OMG), the agency also clinched the overall AdFocus Agency of the Year award. The ceremony was held in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening.

In previous years the scoring for the Agency of the Year award was done by both the AdFocus jury and the industry. This year the jury alone made the decision. The winners of each category and their runners-up – as well as agencies that had achieved within a certain points band – were eligible for the overall Agency of the Year award.

The jury considers a number of factors in selecting the Media Agency of the Year, including new business wins, awards, client retention, staff experience, transformation, social responsibility, billings and staff ratios. In short, says AdFocus co-editor, David Furlonger, the jury is looking for a great business – and PHD scored well in almost every area.

MD Anne Dearnaley describes PHD as an atypical media agency that employs people with multiple skills, including brand consultants, econometrics specialists, hybrid planners and technologists.

During the assessment period – which for media agencies is May to April – PHD increased its billings by 27%. New business from accounts such as Liquid Capital, Teljoy, Futuregrowth, Pepkor, GSK, Novartis, Daimler, Direct Axis and Bacardi totalled R414m in the past year.

Part of the agency’s submission included a case study on an integrated campaign for Gumtree, the classifieds website. The campaign aimed to increase the site’s penetration in Pretoria. PHD’s seven-week campaign ran earlier this year and involved mystery containers suspended over some of Pretoria’s major highways, as well as billboards and radio competitions on Jacaranda FM. The campaign, which culminated in a music event attended by approximately 15,000 people, attracted thousands of new ad listings and entries, significantly more than any previous campaign.

PHD is no stranger to awards, having won Specialist Agency of the Year at last year’s Most Awards for the third consecutive year as well as winning two golds at the Advertising Media Association of SA awards.

The MediaShop, which has won the Media Agency of the Year Award twice in the past six years, was PHD’s closest rival in the media agency category. The MediaShop sponsored wi-fi at the awards.

FCB Johannesburg, this year’s Large Advertising Agency of the Year, was in second position for the overall AdFocus Agency of the Year award.  Three of the agency’s clients were voted the top brands in their category in the 2015 Sunday Times Top Brands Survey, with two clients, Koo and Coca-Cola, voted first and second overall. FCB MD, Thabang Skwambane says FCB Johannesburg’s ongoing success is due to the fact that it puts brands first and ensures the work delivers business results. The agency continues to do well on the awards circuit.

In the period under review FCB won the SA Tourism account as well as new work from Sprite, Exclusive Books and Brand SA. It grew revenue by 15% because of this despite the loss of the Eskom account. It’s also made significant progress on the transformation front and is 51% black owned.

The big take-out: PHD Media SA has been awarded the Media Agency of the Year and the overall Agency of the Year award at the Financial Mail AdFocus Awards.


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