SA’s advertising industry, long under pressure to alter its racial profile, seems ill-prepared for impending ownership changes that must be implemented by early 2018. Early next year the revised marketing, advertising and communication sector BEE code will require agencies to increase black ownership to a minimum of 45% from the current 25%. Yet there appears to be a startling lack of urgency. According to bespoke new research conducted for the 2017 edition of AdFocus by Tiso Blackstar (owner of the Financial Mail) only 6% of respondent agencies said they had reached the required empowerment targets. By and large the slow pace of change has been blamed on a lack of black talent specific to the sector and the increasing cost of hiring in an economy where brand-spend is diminishing. Of most concern to the industry will be that almost 60% of agencies wanting to offer shares to black partners claimed they could not find the right shareholders.

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