Transformation of advertising & marketing industry: Transformation progress to date

12 November 2002

About the ACA

The Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA), previously known as the Association of Advertising Agencies (AAA), is a professional body that represents the collective interests of member agencies, estimated to represent roughly 75 - 80% of total advertising and marketing communication expenditure by marketers. Our latest survey shows that a total number of 2878 employees are employed by ACA members.

In terms of our membership criteria an advertising agency is defined as an organisation concerned primarily with providing strategic advice on marketing communication, creating and/or placing advertising. Such services can include, or represent, specialisation in consumer or business-to-business advertising, media placement (including new media/Internet), direct marketing, creative and strategic consultancy, recruitment advertising or other marketing communication services.

The ACA name change reflects our industry's wish to remain relevant in terms of what we do in a transforming South African and global economy. 'Association of Advertising Agencies' no longer adequately describes what we do. Whilst advertising remains our mark of distinction, we have for a long time now provided marketing communication services that go beyond that. Our clients (including Government) require a 360-degree all-round integrated message and we have simply brought our name in line with our practice.

It should be noted that ACA members are companies that create advertising and promotions on behalf of advertisers within a limited budget. The advertiser has to approve all the recommendations made by the advertising agency.


The ACA has embarked on a journey to transform itself since 1996, which has culminated in the launch of the ACA Transformation Charter in February 2000. During our submission to the Portfolio Committee in 2001, we have reported in full on how the Transformation Charter was implemented and how the ACA has monitored growth in black representivity amongst its members against the ACA's self imposed target of 40% black representation in 2004, including growth in specific employment categories such as black top management, black professionals and female employment. We have also provided an analysis of black shareholding as well as a breakdown of race demographics for the AAA School, which is owned by the ACA and is regarded as a key vehicle in expanding the pool of skills in our industry.

Whilst the values expressed in the ACA Transformation Charter are still as valid and binding as ever, and whilst the achievement of quantitative goals remain important, the ACA believes that it has become necessary to move on to the qualitative and lift the transformation debate to a higher level.

The Board Directive on the Practical Implementation of the Transformation Charter, approved in November 1999, provided a mandate to the Board to update the Charter and the implementation policy.

During a think tank organised for ACA members in March 2002 and several follow-up meetings through the year, the ACA has developed a vision for the industry, and developed a ten point statement of values based on the Charter (see Annexure A) and other values discussed at the think tank. These were then translated into do-able actions. This updated transformation policy was approved by the ACA Board on 4 September 2002.

The submission will therefore deal with:

  • the ACA vision,
  • the 10-point statement of values,
  • how these values are translated into actions, and
  • how we see the way ahead.

Vision for the industry

Very simply, the ACA's vision for our industry is the following:

A vibrant, self-regulated industry, that celebrates and exudes unique South Africanness, yet world-class and responsive to a dynamic African and global environment.

An empowered industry, that is non-racial, and characterised by its inclusive diversity, which plays a major role in crafting a South African culture and in the celebration of human dignity.

An industry with inspired leadership, the highest standards of corporate governance and in a proud partnership with marketers.

10 point statement of values for the ACA

Against this background, the following 10-point statement of values has been developed for the advertising industry, which we believe endorses and complements the Values Statement of the Marketing and Communications Industry.

  1. We want to play a role in crafting a South African culture
    If advertising people are truly in tune with the culture and values of the South African society, they can play a major role in crafting a uniquely South African identity which can be portrayed in our advertising, which will instill a feeling of pride and belonging for all people of our country.
  2. "If advertising is a reflection of the society in which it operates, so too should the people creating that advertising reflect the culture and society around it"1
    We can only understand and communicate with the diversity of South African consumers if that diversity is reflected in our workforce (including our suppliers'), in the content of our advertising, in our voice-overs, and in our consumer research.
  3. Empowerment begins with the young
    The AAA School of Advertising, spearheading other Higher Education Institutions, is a vehicle for facilitating entry of a diversity of cultures into the industry. Nurturing and developing an interest in advertising as a career option, however, should begin much earlier at high school level. The empowerment of the youth can only be successful if a financially and culturally enabling climate for such empowerment is created and sustained.
  4. We truly support Black Economic Empowerment
    We believe that the structure of our economy should promote and further black economic empowerment as an inescapable moral, political and economical prerequisite for a safe and prosperous future and business unity in our country and for a successful country. The speed with which BEE can be achieved, will also contribute to the success of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
  5. We seek sound corporate governance
    In line with the ACA Standards of Practice and Code of Conduct, we firmly believe in encouraging inspirational leadership that will lead by example, and whose companies will exercise and report on corporate social responsibility. Transformation and empowerment should also be a strategy for creating a disciplined business environment which is investor-friendly and in which corruption, lawlessness and crime will not be tolerated.
  6. Transformation goes beyond equity quota busting
    We need to examine ourselves beyond how many apples and oranges we have in our various agency baskets. True transformation is not a matter of expediency in order to gain business, but a constant change of mindset resulting in internal empowerment in our companies and a developed ability to fully participate in a transforming South African society.
  7. We will assist in nation building
    Accepting that advertising plays an important role in expressing aspirations and values, we as professional communicators wish to pro-actively use our tools in the interest of celebrating and promoting values enshrined in our constitutional democracy, such as respect for human dignity, equality and freedom. We will do all we can to support and facilitate effective social change.
  8. We are the partners of the marketing industry
    The best way that our industry can properly partner the marketing industry is through successfully transforming our industry in a way that carries forward the best of what we have into a fully transformed community of professionals, that are truly in touch with the markets in our evolving society, and produce truly effective advertising. In transforming our own industry, we will also endeavour to encourage transformation in the production industry.
  9. We are a world-class industry
    Whilst we believe that the advertising industry should be the creator and custodian of truly outstanding South African advertising ideas, these ideas should still communicate effectively within the global context. There is evidence that our industry has made progress in creating advertisements that are both uniquely South African and have won the highest international accolades, and we would like to continue on that road.
  10. We firmly endorse self-regulation
    We wholeheartedly embrace the free market economy and free market principles as well as freedom of commercial speech. We acknowledge that freedom is also responsibility and believe that we have shown sufficient responsibility over the years to successfully regulate ourselves. We will continue to work with, but not for, any and all bodies with the aim of improving the Advertising Standards Authority in the interest of the national agenda, but will always provide the leeway for "gut feel" in creativity and the reactions of the reasonable man to that which we create.

It is not only content that we believe we are able to self regulate, but also representivity and ownership, for both of which the ACA has set its own self-imposed industry targets which are annually monitored (see actions).

From words to actions: Translating values into do-ables

Having identified the ten key values that drive our industry, these were translated into actions, which will evolve into larger strategies in the years to come. Some of these actions require the input of industry stakeholders such as the marketers and the Creative Directors' Forum, with whom discussions have already taken place. See Annexure B for a summary of how each of these actions are designed to address the underlying values.

Transformation is a constant journey...

  1. Encourage South Africanism

    An inventory will be made of truly South African advertisements, which will be monitored and evaluated annually.

This analysis has already started with Thebe Ikalafeng's (Nike) and Graham Warsop's (The Jupiter Drawing Room) presentation during the 2002 Adfocus Conference, and at the Government-Industry Plenary Session on Transformation on 7 June, on "Finding our Voice: South African Creativity and its Relevance". Some 20 examples of uniquely South African award-winning advertisements that were made post 1994 were shown, i.e. Castrol, Vodacom, MacDonalds, Telkom, Nike Tempest, Volkswagen etc. According to the presenters, there were at least 50 more relevant examples.2

An exceptionally high premium will be placed on locally developed advertisements, and the uniquely South African creative representation thereof, in the entry rules for the ACA's own APEX Awards for advertising effectiveness. The ACA has also engaged in discussions with the Marketing Federation of South Africa regarding the entry rules for Loeries.

  1. Test the strength of our voice

Research will be undertaken by the ACA on factors which negatively impact on a South African style of advertising, i.e. an audit of the proportion of locally made to imported advertisements (currently estimated at 50:50 by the ACA Electronics Committee), and the identification of remedies jointly with Government (i.e. tax incentives for locally produced advertisements, or following the Brazilian, Australian and Malaysian examples of penalty taxes if an advertisement is shot in South Africa but does not use South African talent and production facilities).

  1. Pro-actively pro bono

    A survey has been conducted amongst ACA members to assess pro bono projects and social investment amongst individual agencies (See Annexure C). In addition, the ACA together with the School will undertake one pro bono project per annum which will assist in nation building and the celebration of human dignity. A fruitful meeting between the ACA and Prof. Phillip Tobias has already taken place in September 2002 to discuss a pro bono project of national significance on behalf of the Sterkfontein World Heritage site, and will be followed up by meetings with the Gauteng Provincial and the International Marketing Council. The ACA Board will also meet with Yvonne Johnson, CEO of the IMC, on 20 November on what the industry can do to facilitate the health and development of the South African Brand.

    It has been recommended that a special prize / category for pro bono campaigns be created for Loeries, Apex and Pendoring, which has also been discussed with the Marketing Federation of South Africa.

  2. Increase critical mass

    through ongoing projects to promote advertising as a career at high school level. The projects currently include the nationwide distribution of the video jointly produced by the ACA and the Department of Education, continued by other media such as Free 4 All. The direct recruitment of students for the AAA School of Advertising is facilitated by any number of measures such as competitions, open days and school visits, whilst the funding of black students who cannot afford to study at the school will be secured through members' support of the 3 learnership programmes registered in 2002 (which involves 45 students in 2002 which will grow to +/- 100 students in 2003) and the additional provision of one bursary per member per annum.

  3. Provide role models

    Specific measures will be implemented to attract black trainers and lecturers to the AAA School. It is also recommended that black advertising executives who fulfill an important role as role models for young talent become involved in School projects, lectures and mentoring in general. The ACA will also develop a programme to teach current white management how to mentor and be role models to young black professionals.

  4. Look beyond our industry

    We need to look beyond the idea that the only appropriate candidates for our industry are those who have had advertising experience. Internal and after hours training programmes by the AAA School of Advertising for middle and senior ad executives who have qualifications and experience outside the advertising field to accelerate diversity in our professional workforce, already address this need.

  5. Develop entrepreneurs

    The ACA has already had preliminary discussions with the Marketing Federation to investigate the establishment of a development foundation to encourage entrepreneurship in advertising and marketing communication. The AAA School will introduce a course in entrepreneurship which will focus on starting and running a small advertising business.

  6. Harness Diversity

    The AAA School will extend its "Popular Culture" programme to include agency participation in 2003. Designed to understand cultural diversity and to counter misunderstanding or advertisements offensive to human dignity, the School will bring together groups from all walks of life to discuss advertising concepts and their interpretation.

    The AAA School Copywriting Programme already makes provision for advertising conceptualisation in main ethnic languages.

    Following attendance of an Awareness Raising Workshop on Disability by the office on the Status of Disabled Persons, the ACA has invited this office to address its executive committee regarding the portrayal of the disabled in advertisements in November 2002.

  7. Monitor constantly

    Through the annual ACA Employee Cost to Agency Survey, the ACA Empowerment Equity Survey, and the AAA School student surveys, the advertising agency industry constantly keeps track of equity progress in ACA employment, shareholding and student profiles. (See Annexure D for progress up to 2002.) The ACA (employment equity) demographics will assess progress against the self-imposed industry target adopted at the launch of the ACA Transformation Charter of 40% black representation in 2004. The 40% target will be reassessed once the recommendations and guidelines of the Black Empowerment Commission have been tabled.
    Subject to new guidelines, the ACA will set its B.E.E. ownership target at a bare minimum of 26% by 2009.A survey co-ordinated by the ACA Financial Directors' Forum will be conducted from 2003 amongst major suppliers to member agencies to assess empowerment status and develop a B.E.E. enabling procurement policy.

  8. Communicate constantly

    The ACA will make a conscious effort of maintaining constant interaction between itself and key stakeholders such as government business, and the media.

    The ACA has given its constructive co-operation to GCIS and the DoC during 2002 in hosting and participating in the Government-Industry Plenary sessions on Transformation and various Task Team meetings. It has also provided the DoC with every assistance and expedition in the Department's Baseline Survey of the industry, by providing its own survey analysis by race, gender and the disabled (which were audited by the independent researchers), to the DoC. It has also interacted with individual government and media representatives, has hosted the ACA-Tribute Forum on transformation in the Industry (see Tribute September/October 2002) and various other meetings between industry stakeholders such as the AMF and the Marketing Federation.

  9. Shine internationally

    There are ACA members that rank amongst the world's top ten for creativity, effectiveness or in the professional global rankings of agencies. These are very marketable achievements bearing in mind that South Africa is responsible for only 0,3% of global adspend. The AAA School will also assist in the marketing of the ACA to national and international stakeholders.

  10. Demonstrate commitment

    As in the past, membership of the ACA will only be open to agencies who demonstrate their commitment to the ACA Transformation Charter and the current implementation policy. The ACA will do all that it can to assist members in internal empowerment, but will also annually assess their members' commitment in terms of their participation in transformation initiatives, ACA representatives' attendance at relevant meetings, and in putting their money where there mouths are (i.e. providing bursaries, paying annual subscriptions etc.) We ask that failure to comply with the above in letter and/or spirit be reported and dealt with in terms of disciplinary action as described in the ACA Articles of Association.

The way forward

It is hoped that through this document the ACA has demonstrated the will, the commitment, the progress as well as the recognition of challenges in transforming ourselves. However, it is realised that an ongoing business plan and overall strategy is required to ensure that the challenges are met and the weaknesses are addressed, particularly weaknesses in areas that are beyond the power of the ACA alone to redress.

To this end, the ACA Board supports, in principle, the concept of an industry umbrella body which will have the credibility to develop an ongoing plan for transformation within specific time parameters, and liaise on an ongoing basis with national, provincial and local powers regarding progress and the role we can play in the national agenda and the sustainable development of our continent. We believe this body should pull together industry stakeholders who truly define the whole of the "advertising industry" as such, i.e. marketers, the media, media buying companies, advertising agencies, and suppliers. Apart from strategy, this body's mandate should also include accountability, i.e. the annual tracking of adspend, representivity and ownership, much along the same lines as the ACA is already doing.

The ACA is committed to take forward the transformation process into 2003 and beyond.

Annexure A

ACA Transformation Charter
- adopted by all ACA members on 23 February 2000

We, members of the Association of Advertising Agencies, believe that our industry should be the creator and custodian of truly outstanding South African advertising ideas, ideas that while proudly proclaiming their African heritage still communicate effectively within the global context.

We, accordingly, jointly and severally commit ourselves to the harnessing of all resources at our disposal towards the transformation of our industry and related disciplines to reflect and represent the totality of skills and contributions from our unique South African experience.

We, further, pledge ourselves to the actualisation of empowerment and transformation goals as determined by prevailing industry needs and dictates in order to achieve meaningful and total involvement of those formerly excluded from the real process.

We are irrevocably committed to changing our industry for the better and shall only open membership of the Association of Advertising Agencies to those who demonstrate their commitment to transformation by adopting and signing this charter.

We will therefore

establish the advertising industry as unique
to South Africa;
for all the people of South Africa;
by all the people of South Africa;
promote the constitutional right of equality and the exercise of true democracy;
eliminate unfair discrimination;
ensure the implementation of employment equity to redress the effects of discrimination;
achieve a diverse workforce broadly representative of our people;
promote economic development and efficiency in the workforce;
provide training and skills through the AAA School of Advertising to students previously excluded from access
initiate practical training programmes for skills development;
change the culture of our organisation and members to accept and implement the changes;
seek and accept equity partners to reflect the true demography and rich cultures of South Africa;
support and encourage each other in reaching our stated goals in letter and spirit;
irrevocably bind ourselves to measures to achieve these goals within a reasonable time

Annexure B

Translating values into action

Values Actions
1. We want to play a role in crafting a South African culture.
  • Encourage South Africanness
  • Test the strength of our voice
  • Harness diversity
2. If advertising is a reflection of the society in which it operates, so too should the people creating that advertising reflect the culture and society around it.
  • Increase critical mass
  • Look beyond our industry
  • Harness diversity
  • Monitor constantly
3. Empowerment begins with the young.
  • Increase critical mass
  • Support learnership programmes
  • Monitor constantly
  • Provide role models
  • Demonstrate commitment
4. We Truly support Black Economic Empowerment.
  • Develop entrepreneurs
  • Increase critical mass
  • Provide role models
  • Support NEPAD
5. We seek sound corporate governance
  • Build inspirational leadership
  • Trend key issues
  • Demonstrate commitment and lead by example
6. Transformation goes beyond equity quota busting.
  • Pro actively pro bono
  • Develop entrepreneurs
  • Increase critical mass internally
7. We will assist in nation building.
  • Pro-actively pro bono
  • Involve marginalised constituencies
  • Celebrate and promote constitutional values
  • Demonstrate commitment
8. We are the partners of the marketing industry.
  • Market ourselves boldly
  • Trend key issues annually
  • Work together with marketing industry
9. We are a world-class industry.
  • Encourage South Africanness
  • Shine internationally
  • Communicate constantly
10. We firmly endorse self-regulation
  • Communicate constantly
  • Trend key issues
  • Build inspirational leadership
  • Support ASA

Annexure C

Analysis of social investment among ACA members


Type of involvement Agency involvement
1. EDUCATION (including but not limited to) Aha-thuto High School; Peninsula School of Feeding; Project Literacy; ORT-SA; Thabong Educare Centre; Black IT Forum; Readucate; READ; Nelson Mandela Children's Fund; Muzuhlowe School; Masemong Project Pro bono services performed include:
  • idea generation
  • strategic and creative planning of campaigns
  • execution of such campaigns
  • account management
  • event management
  • building brand awareness
  • specific project support
  • website development
  • design of annual reports
  • fundraising projects
  • sponsorship of children
  • direct mail initiatives
  • poster campaigns
  • donations of furniture, equipment and food
  • contributions to/absorption of third party production costs
  • negotiation of free media space
2. HEALTH (including but not limited to) HIV/AIDS; Hospice; St John's Ambulance; SANTA; Organ Donor Foundation; Red Cross Children's Hospital; SA Blood Transfusion Services; Friends of Valkenberg; Hope Worldwide; Starfish; National Anxiety Day; Cancer Association
3. CHILDREN (including but not limited to) Cotlands Baby Sanctuary; Reach for a Dream; Worldvision; SOS Children's Village; van Rijn Home of safety; Nazareth House; Kids Haven; Acres of Love; Big Brother Big Sister*; Topsy Foundation*; Boystown; JNB Child Welfare Society
4. DISABLED (including but not limited to) Nike Paralympics*; Tembalethu; SA Association for the Blind*; SA Association for the Disabled*; SA Disabled Golf Association
5. ENVIRONMENT (including but not limited to) Endangered Wildlife Trust; Earthlife Africa*; Rescue the penguins
6. COMMUNITY / CAUSE RELATED (including but not limited to) Guns Free SA, Bomb awareness campaign; Gender equality; Women Against Child Abuse; Animal Anti-cruelty; The Wetnose Foundation; Red Cross Air Mercy; Street People Campaign; Men's March Against Women Abuse; People Opposing Woman's Abuse*; FAMSA*; Salvation Army; Mosaic; The Haven
7. OTHER (including but not limited to) Sports Trust; The Baxter Theatre; Blacksash; Ikageng; BIT4M

* Denotes projects and campaigns which were in part pro bono and in part paid for by the clients.

Although it is difficult to attach an exact monetary value to projects of this nature, the value of above pro bono services, as surveyed amongst ACA members, is conservatively estimated to be in excess of R7 million for the period 2001/2002, viz.

Negotiated free media space R3.75 m
Value of "free" agency time costs (e.g. creative, strategic planning etc.) R2.5 m
Agency contributions to/absorption of third party production costs R750000

 Annexure D

ACA Employment, Shareholding and Student Profiles

Table 1: Black employment AAA members 1998 - 2002

(Source: ACA Employment Cost to Agency Survey)

  1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
% Black Employees1 23,3 26,2 29,5 31 31,1
% Black top management2 6,9 8,2 16,4 18,9 16,8
% Black professional / management3 13,5 16,4 19,3 21,4 20,4


  1. Percentage of black employees in total in member agencies (Black includes Africans, Coloureds and Indians).
  2. Black representation in top management (defined as CEO's / Chairpersons or MD's.)
  3. Combines all levels of management from middle to top management including professionally qualified employees or experienced specialists.

Table 2: Female employment: AAA members

(Source: ACA Employment Cost to Agency Survey)

  2000 2001 2002
% Female employees 59,7 59,8 61,0
% Female top management 26,2 22,2 21,8
% Female management/professional 56 56 56,6

Table 3: Analysis of ACA members with black shareholding 2001 - 2002

(Source: ACA Empowerment Equity Survey)

ACA member-ship Total no Black employee / director share-holding1 Empower-ment company share-holding2 Black share-holding - any source3 %with Black share-holding - any source3 Average % of black share-holding4
Agency groups '01 '02 '01 '02 '01 '02 '01 '02 '01 '02 '01 '02
30 26 15 13 9 9 16 16 53.3% 53.3% N/A N/A
Individual agencies 85 82 50 42 38 42 60 50 70.6% 61.0% 21.7% 21.7%


  1. "Black Employee/Director Shareholding" is defined as equity held directly by individual black employees and directors within individual agencies. Actual % shareholding varies between 1% - 100% for both 2001 and 2002.
  2. Within individual agencies, actual % shareholding held by empowerment companies varies between 15,8% - 74% for 2001, and 5.2% - 51% for 2002.
  3. "Black Shareholding - any source" represents those agency groups / individual agencies that have at least one type of equity participation by black persons or empowerment companies. Included in these are 3 agency groups with 100% black shareholding.
  4. This represents the average % of black shareholding held by black persons and empowerment companies across all individual agencies.

Table 4: Black students 2001 - 2002, AAA School of Advertising (full time)

Programme Johannesburg Cape Town
  2001 2002 2001 2002

Integrated Marketing Communications

68.8% 70% 34.2% 27.3%
Integrated Marketing Communications
68.4% 62.9% 28.6% 20.7%
Integrated Marketing Communications
40.4% 48.8% 26.3% 18.0%
TOTAL 58.0% 60.0% 30.6% 22.0%
Programme Johannesburg Cape Town
  2001 2002 2001 2002
Copywriting 1 28.6% 52.6% 0.0% 22.2%
Copywriting 2 47.8% 24.0% 21.1% 11.1%
TOTAL 38.6% 36.4% 21.1% 16.7%
Programme Johannesburg Cape Town
  2001 2002 2001 2002
Visual Communications 1 26.0% 24.6% 8.7% 15.0%
Visual Communications 2 16.2% 26.2% 5.1% 7.3%
Visual Communications 3 3.0% 19.4% 5.6% 7.9%
TOTAL 16.7% 23.7% 6.6% 10.1%

Table 5: Black students 2001 - 2002, AAA School of Advertising (part time)

Programme Johannesburg Cape Town
  2001 2002 2001 2002
Higher Diploma in Integrated
Marketing Communications
73.9% 70.5% 23.8% 18.2%
Brand Management 72.7% 74.3% 45.8% 30%
Account Management 53.3% 90.0% - 50%
Media Management 76.7% 85.7% 29.6% 44.4%
Art Direction 28.6% 28.5% - -
Copywriting 38.2% 34.3% - -
DTP 34.3% 40.0% - -
Graphic Design 22.2% 16.7% - -
Multimedia - 60% - -
E-Marketing (only in Cape Town) - - - 0%
TOTAL 58% 59.8% 33.3% 30.3%


  1. Wording taken from Agency. A Publication of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, Summer 2001.
  2. A copy of the presentation and the advertisements are available at the ACA.

- Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA)