Picture: 123RF / RAWPIXEL
Picture: 123RF / RAWPIXEL

Leading an advertising agency in Johannesburg remains more lucrative than in Cape Town, though positions in both cities have had an increase in monthly remuneration by at least R30,000. This, says one agency chairman, is because skills are becoming hard to find as brands plunder agencies to offer better-paid marketing jobs. A case in point was the departure of Ogilvy & Mather CEO Abey Mokgwatsane last year to become Vodacom head of brand and communications.

The 2017 Ad Talent salary survey finds the minimum monthly pay for an agency boss with five years’ experience is R150,000 in Joburg and R130,000 in Cape Town.

Some agency insiders say that while those figures are reasonably accurate, it would also be a useful to rate MD salaries in terms of gender — estimated to be 10%-18% less for women.

Ad Talent’s figures are based on its own recruitment placement data, CV information and cost-to-company figures, and average industry salaries across other sectors.

Key to any agency-client relationship is the account director — essentially the daily liaison between the strategic and creative team and the marketing department being serviced. The minimum monthly salary is R48,000 in Joburg, up from R45,000 a year ago for a person with over five years on the job. One marketing executive says: "Good account directors hold the account fort and should be worth more than that." Interestingly, junior account directors with only two years’ experience in Joburg can earn just under R10,000 less than their heavyweight counterparts — a sure sign of demand for this skill. A key measurement of agency success is creative strength and the number of awards won. This responsibility usually falls on creative directors, who oversee and fine-tune advertising output. The minimum salary for this position in Joburg is R75,000 (R62,000 in Cape Town) compared to R70,000 and R60,000 a year ago. A good senior copywriter at a large Joburg agency can earn almost as much as a creative director: just under R70,000 a month.

Salaries in the digital agency sector reveal its growing importance to brands. Agency staffers heading user experience units (which enhance a customer’s digital experience with a brand) can command a minimum of R70,000. One digital agency CEO says: "I’ll pay whatever it takes to get this part of the client offering spot-on."

In an environment where sustaining a brand’s success over time has become critical, marketing directors still command premium salaries.

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