Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

For a third consecutive year the Ogilvy group tops the Creative Circle rankings, which evaluate advertising agencies on their performance at international awards shows.

In addition, Ogilvy Johannesburg heads the 2017 individual agency rankings, while its Cape Town counterpart is 10th. The Cape Town office will be disappointed, as it was second in the 2016 rankings.

Award shows considered in the rankings are the Cannes Lions, the US-run D&AD and One Show, the local Loeries and the Creative Circle annual awards.

Ogilvy Johannesburg’s work on the KFC fast food brand has been a major contributor to its success in recent years, and it most recently won two gold pencils at the One Show for its multi-awarded "sad man meal" campaign.

Ogilvy’s recent success builds a solid platform for Elouise Kelly, who has been appointed Johannesburg MD, replacing Alistair Mokoena, who was recently named CEO for Ogilvy SA. Kelly is the former head of marketing at the SABC.

In second place on the individual agency rankings is TWBA\Hunt\Lascaris Johannesburg, up one place on its previous finish.

The standout agencies in the latest rankings are Native VML and Y&R SA, finishing third and fourth respectively. Native and VML have since merged to form VML SA. Y&R never really recovered after losing the huge Pick n Pay account to King James some years ago, but under the stewardship of chief creative officer Jason Xenopoulos it has won 36 local awards and eight international accolades over the past 12 months. Notable campaigns include work for the Absolut vodka brand and Nedbank’s "see money differently" ad.

Something of value

"It is no longer enough for marketing to simply communicate a brand or product message. It must provide customers with something of value," says Xenopoulos.

"We believe that the best way to achieve this is to create brand experiences that are compelling, useful and entertaining, and to give brands more than just a presence in culture but rather a purpose."

FCB Johannesburg, which has brands such as Coca-Cola and Toyota on its blue-chip client list, has had a barnstorming 12 months, finishing in fifth place, up from 21 in the previous rankings. Part of the creative surge is probably having two creative leaders — veterans Jonathan Deeb and Ahmed Tilly — who refer to shared values and the importance of speaking to clients and staff with one voice.

Rounding out the top 10 individual agencies are: FoxP2 in sixth place, down two positions from the previous year; King James; OpenCo (part of the TBWA group); Grey Africa; and DDB. Grey and DDB are both big comeback stories. A few years ago Grey was on the brink of closing its doors, but the WPP-owned agency then bought a stake in a local operation called Volcano, run by adman Paul Jackson, and work for brands like Dulux, Uber and Duracell has made a singular impression on the industry.

DDB suffered a body blow after losing the giant Telkom account, but in recent months it has been picking up business and reclaiming its position as a top creative agency.

Ogilvy also tops the agency group table — a ranking that incorporates component companies — followed by TBWA and VML.

The French-headquartered Publicis Groupe, which eschewed competitions last year in favour of spending money on a new artificial intelligence system, still finishes in 13th position — a spillover from points gathered before its self-imposed withdrawal.