Masterclass Notes: Black-owned agencies & marketers

Agencies need practice in order to optimise their sales pitch to potential clients and this opportunity was offered to eight black-owned agencies last month. Agencies were deliberately selected for their BEE structures (preferably 100 % black-owned), along with their variety of services.


On the day, the following agencies were in attendance:

  • BWD Advertising: full-service advertising
  • Purple Room: PR
  • The Plum Factory: social and digital
  • eNitiate: social and digital
  • Glasshouse Communication Management: PR and corporate governance [note: Glasshouse is a subsidiary of Mazole Holdings]
  • Avatar PR: PR and publicity
  • Harambee: activations South Africa and Africa
  • DAVID: full-service advertising

From marketers and procurement, we had representatives from: JSE, Coca-Cola, Diageo, Sorbet Shark, Nedbank and Ocean Basket.


Clients were taken in turn to each agency ‘station’ for a 10-minute introduction/mini chemistry session with the agency. Immediately after each session, they were required to complete an evaluation form which consisted of the following questions:

  • What was the main thing you learned about this agency?
  • What is this agency’s greatest strength?
  • What is this agency’s greatest weakness?
  • What suggestions do you have for this agency to improve?
  • Do you see a role for this agency in your business?

Positive feedback

In general, the feedback from the marketers and procurement heads was very positive and they reminded the agencies to ensure that they:

  • Come across with a single-minded approach — and not try to be ‘jack-of-all-trades, master of none’
  • Allow each team member of the agency to speak and have a role to play
  • Compile and present solid case studies that demonstrate return on investment
  • Structure their message to “land” within 10 minutes — this is the realistic time frame that most agencies have to present in
  • Be prepared to tell the story about why the agency was formed and how the founders arrived at the name of the agency — a very important factor and so often forgotten

We learned from agencyScope in both the 2016 and 2017 studies that agencies in South Africa are not proactive in making contact with marketers and procurement, especially in comparison to agencies in the other 11 countries where SCOPEN is active. Procurement in particular needs contact from agencies in order to build up its list of potential suppliers for marketers. This is more and more important as the need for black-owned agencies increases.

[Full disclosure: Scopen Global and Mazole Holdings (the company that owns IAS 100%) have formed a company in South Africa called Scopen Africa. Scopen Global holds the majority of the shares; Mazole is a minority shareholder. Johanna McDowell is a director of Scopen Africa, as is Cesar Vacchiano, global CEO of Scopen.]

Very keen

Overall, the results for the agencies in terms of feedback were very good and there were definitely a few interested parties who might want to take things further. From the marketers’ perspective, they were very keen to give their time to this initiative as they recognise the importance of helping agencies to grow and develop their skills and offerings.

Publication: MarkLives


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