Sisulu buys into McCann

Global agency sets new SA tar­gets

Finweek English Edition - - Advertising & marketing - BY TONY KOEN­DER­MAN tonyk@fin­week.co.za

ZWE­LAKHE SISULU, for­mer CE of the SABC, has bought a 49% stake in McCann World­group SA, for­merly known as HerdBuoys McCann-Erick­son. In­ter­na­tional McCann ex­ec­u­tives see it and other changes as herald­ing a new be­gin­ning for the ad agency group, which is cur­rently ranked 15th in SA (based on staff num­bers).

“Our aim is to move into the top three in SA within three years,” says McCann re­gional pres­i­dent Ru­pert Howell. Chal­lenged con­cern­ing the fea­si­bil­ity of that, he says: “We’ve done it else­where and can do it here too.”

McCann World­group in­cludes McCann-Erick­son (the world’s big­gest ad agency), Uni­ver­sal McCann (me­dia buy­ing and plan­ning) and other spe­cial­ist units. McCann-Erick­son is ranked in the top three in 55 coun­tries in its Euro­pean, Mid­dle East­ern and African re­gion.

Sisulu’s ac­qui­si­tion has re­stored the group’s black eq­uity own­er­ship level, which had been lan­guish­ing at zero since McCann bought out the HerdBuoys eq­uity nearly two years ago.

Even though he’ll be non-ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, Sisulu prom­ises to play an ac­tive role. “My in­ten­tion is to pro­vide in­spi­ra­tional lead­er­ship. This deal isn’t about se­cur­ing Gov­ern­ment con­tracts. I find it ab­so­lutely de­mean­ing to do that.

“I’m tak­ing 49% im­me­di­ately but only as a cus­to­dian, be­cause my de­sire is to bring in young peo­ple, women’s groups and staff. I’ve to set up fund­ing mech­a­nisms for them. Em­pow­er­ment deals have tended to ex­clude young peo­ple, but I’m se­ri­ous about in­vest­ing in young tal­ent.”

Sisulu has busi­ness in­ter­ests in TV pro­duc­tion, pub­lish­ing, out­door ad­ver­tis­ing and dig­i­tal print and is de­vel­op­ing them in SA and the rest of Africa.

“This deal is unique, as it wasn’t an agency look­ing for an em­pow­er­ment part­ner but an en­tre­pre­neur de­cid­ing to fill a gap in his port­fo­lio,” he says. “I found them. They didn’t find me.”

Howell sees the deal as cru­cial to the agency’s fu­ture suc­cess. “We can’t flour­ish here un­less we can at­tract the best young tal­ent. Zwe­lakhe Sisulu is a tal­ent mag­net. The em­pow­er­ment pro­gramme is be­ing treated with great ur­gency. Part­ners have been iden­ti­fied.”

McCann has sec­onded Lon­don-based Martin Hum­mel to act as CEO un­til a South African ap­point­ment can be made. For­mer Jo­han­nes­burg MD Ann Muthuma asked to re­turn to client ser­vices.

Hum­mel ex­pects to be here for sev­eral months. “My job is to pro­vide lead­er­ship and ex­pand the busi­ness, to de­liver ser­vice and to find tal­ent,” he says. “We’re in a war to at­tract and re­tain su­pe­rior tal­ent. If you get the tal­ent you end up win­ning.”

There’s been a healthy flow of new busi­ness to the agency in re­cent months, in­clud­ing Hewlett- Packard, Gen­eral Mo­tors (a world­wide as­sign­ment) and the UIP me­dia ac­count won by Uni­ver­sal McCann.

Will be an ac­tive chair­man. Zwe­lakhe Sisulu

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