Happy Ntshingila. Picture: SUPPLIED
Happy Ntshingila. Picture: SUPPLIED

PHD Media SA is the 2016 AdFocus agency of the year. Part of the Omnicom Media Group, PHD also won the media agency accolade.

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. PHD increased its billings by 27% and won new business worth R414m.

Agencies that entered the 2016 competition were evaluated by a jury chaired by agency operative Craig Page-Lee.

The jury takes into account new business wins, awards, client retention, staff experience, transformation, social responsibility, billings and staff ratios.

FCB Johannesburg won the large ad agency of the year award. FCB Group CEO Brett Morris says: "It’s a humbling experience to win an accolade like this as FCB celebrates its 90th year. There are so many people who have been part of this journey." Morris also won agency leader of the year, sponsored by The House of Brave agency.

Grid Worldwide won the specialist agency category and Hellocomputer (part of the FCB group) was voted digital agency of the year.

Grid has won the AdFocus award for branding & design five times. This year that category was replaced with a public relations category, won by Ogilvy PR Johannesburg.

MD Joanna Oosthuizen says: "PR is playing an increasingly important role in driving integration of the marketing agenda. This is driven off the back of its ability to define the stories of brands and companies, but more importantly in how it can carry this golden thread across the full marketing cycle." Grid increased revenue by over 90% in the past year.

Judges said Grid’s BBBEE rating and ownership model stood the agency in good stead for the award.

It was a close race for the digital agency of the year award, with just two agencies making it onto the shortlist: Hellocomputer and Native VML. Hellocomputer grew revenue by almost 30% in the past year.

The medium-sized agency award went to Avatar; and for a second year in a row the small advertising agency winner was OpenCo, part of the TBWA group.

Burson-Marsteller Africa won the African agency network of the year.

Agency chairman Robyn de Villiers says: "Africa has been central to our business strategy for 20 years and this recognition is a tribute to the partnerships we have built in 53 markets on the continent. For us the strength of our partnerships is everything."

Durban-based The Hardy Boys won the partnership of the year along with client SA Homeloans. The category is sponsored by The Observatory International.

Happy Ntshingila received the lifetime achievement award to a standing ovation. He was one of the founders of the famous HerdBuoys McCann Erickson agency and a transformation trailblazer in the industry. The award is sponsored by the Liberty Group.

Ntshingila cautioned the ad industry not to let up on transformation and to double efforts on recruitment and ownership.

The 2016 student of the year (sponsored by Nedbank) is Carina Bonse from Red & Yellow School of Logic and Magic.

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