25 years ago, there very few – if any – black owned and run agencies. Probably the only one at that time was Herdbuoys. They represented the start of a new era in South Africa where black advertising professionals were taken far more seriously than in previous times.
Today in 2017 the Independent Agency Search & Selection company has identified more than 100 black owned entrepreneurial agencies across the full spectrum of 13 marketing communications disciplines. This is in addition to those agencies that have transformed in the past few years through BEE and various black ownership trusts and other vehicles.
Finding and getting to know these independent agencies has become an important part of our ongoing work in order to increase agency choice for marketers. Marketers and procurement have an important role to play in helping transformation to happen in the marketing communications industry and in agencies. We are seeing quite clearly that while among government entities procurement of black owned agencies has been an imperative for some time, it is becoming increasingly important – and more frequent – across large corporates and multinationals who want to ensure their own growth in this country.
We estimate that there are in excess of 2500 agencies of all different types – creative, media, design, PR and digital – as well as printers, research companies, activation companies and event or conferencing companies – across South Africa. So, 100 of these being black owned is quite a small percentage.
Over the past 25 years we have also seen more and more black graduates coming into the marketing and advertising workplace – this can only be good news for the future of the industry and for the growth of more black owned agencies in the future.
We believe that the entrepreneurial spirit, that is often an integral part of a building an agency, is alive and well in these agencies who are keen to be known for their abilities rather than just being selected because they are black owned and because they will “tick all of the boxes” on the Procurement list of criteria.
One of the other reasons that we started to keep this list of black owned agencies was to assist more traditional and long established agencies to find suitable partners. And we have been able to do that for a few of those agencies already who wish to actively transform and grow their businesses. With black ownership now being a business imperative as part of the MAC Charter and an imminent deadline of April 2018, we believe that the need for such partnerships will continue to increase, thereby encouraging the growth of the industry.
Far sighted agencies will know for sure that taking a minority stake in a black owned agency is the key to a successful future. Some have already grasped the concept and are enjoying partnerships that might not have been possible 30 years ago.