Advertising agency Ebony+Ivory is the oldest surviving independent agency in the country. Established in 1969 by copywriter Paul Middleton, the agency has a proud history of offering both traditional and non-traditional disciplines under one roof having long adopted a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach towards advertising communications.

In 1989 Paul Middleton’s son, Paul David Middleton, took over as managing director and relaunched Paul Middleton Advertising as Ebony+Ivory.

Nombini Mehlomakulu and Paul Middleton

The agency has a reputation for going the extra mile, building strong business partnerships with clients and producing work that meets and even exceeds objectives. Specialising in servicing clients with accounts ranging in size from R500 000 to R30 million, Ebony+Ivory prides itself on providing clients with cost effective solutions which deliver a demonstrable and measurable return on investment.

Ebony+Ivory has purposefully remained independent and small, offering a high standard of professionalism and a strong work ethic. It regards its size as the ideal opportunity to shorten the lines of communication between itself and clients and prefers to work directly with senior client counterparts including managing directors, CEO’s and marketing directors. A custom of holding weekly status meetings with senior decision makers from each client is a strategy that allows the agency to make decisions quickly - and execute on these decisions efficiently - is a strategy that has paid off with a number of long-standing clients in its stable.

In recent years the agency has made significant additional investments into its research and strategy capabilities. Custom-designed technology solutions allow it to conduct bespoke research on behalf of clients. This, coupled with focus groups and high-level strategic conversations with clients, makes it possible to provide a high level of business intelligence seldom found at an agency of this size.

Over the years Ebony+Ivory has developed a comprehensive set of tools that extends far beyond what a traditional agency offers. Within this offering, research and strategy have remained at the centre of every account, underpinned by a holistic and multidisciplinary approach. The agency prides itself on the delivery of one to one marketing at scale, an approach which is both time and cost-effective for clients.

A people-centred business, Ebony+Ivory has a reputation for hiring only the best and the smartest in their respective fields; individuals who specialise in delivering quality work at speed. A level 1 BBBEE contributor, diversity has long been recognised as a core necessity in order to provide a multitude of perspectives. In addition to this core group of seasoned experts is a growing cadre of up and coming talent which the agency is mentoring through its Hlumani Empowerment Trust.   

Having long recognised that traditional agency models are rapidly becoming defunct, the business operates a lean structure, regularly making use of a core team of freelance experts when it needs to. It has successfully adapted its operating model to an era where multidisciplinary skills, agility and simpler structures are called for, enabling it to execute, curate and collaborate on demand.

In an era in which many advertising businesses are battling to remain relevant and sustainable, Ebony+Ivory has successfully navigated these challenges and positioned itself as a nimble and agile business well equipped to deliver on complex briefs.