Collective ID’s managing partners: (from left to right): Qingqile ‘WingWing’ Mdlulwa, Sharon Bergman, Brenda Khumalo and John Davenport.
Collective ID’s managing partners: (from left to right): Qingqile ‘WingWing’ Mdlulwa, Sharon Bergman, Brenda Khumalo and John Davenport.

After what has been a tumultuous few years at Ireland/Davenport, the communications agency has announced a name change to Collective ID and revealed that its black ownership has increased from 25.1% to 51.1%. The change brings with it a new management team, and it heralds a new era at the agency.

It’s been a long journey to get to this point, with two of the agency’s original founding partners moving on and the loss of some significant accounts. But new managing partner and executive client service director Brenda Khumalo says Collective ID will continue to celebrate its heritage, particularly in the creative space that Ireland/ Davenport was known for.

The big take-out: Newly rebranded Collective ID plans to take the industry by storm, with transformation at the top of its agenda, a new black management team in place and a commitment to producing work that is relevant and representative of SA as a whole.

“From our new standpoint, Collective ID will continue to build on our culture, both internally and externally, and focus on transformation as one of our primary passion points,” she says. This is transformation that comes from the heart – it’s based on questioning how the agency can improve the lives of its staff and suppliers, and it will ultimately result in better work and services for clients.

Khumalo says she herself is an example of this commitment. She is being groomed to become MD of Collective ID under the mentorship of nonexecutive chair Mosidi Seretlo. The plan, she explains, is to identify young black talent with leadership potential within the agency, and then train and mentor these employees in this direction.

Managing partner and executive creative director Qingqile “WingWing” Mdlulwa says transformation within the agency’s creative teams is one of the primary focuses. “We have a number of creatives who are committed to mentoring the next level of creative leadership,” he explains. John Davenport, one of the agency’s original founders is putting a great deal of energy into helping creatively in this space.

CFO Sharon Bergmann goes on to explain that transformation at the agency is no box-ticking exercise – while it’s crucial that Collective ID maintains its level 1 BEE status, the company’s transformation efforts are also about improving the lives and opportunities of the people working at the agency. In fact, this vision has been translated into a human resources policy that requires three of every four new hires to be people of colour.

Transformation and relevance go hand in hand, says Mdlulwa. “We have a record of creative excellence. In addition, our employees reflect the diversity of the country and we’re able to draw on each of their different experiences to create work that is relevant for all South Africans,” he explains, adding that, after all, SA is many things and not just one.

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