KZN advertising agencies lagging behind

City wants to hold on to homegrown talent

It aims to be more active in the industry

“There is a lot of talent . but many youngsters prefer to go to Cape Town and Jo’burg”


Durban advertising agencies have been lagging behind their counterparts in SA’s two other commercial centres, Johannesburg and Cape Town. But some executives say this is changing, and that the city is beginning to sell itself as a design centre in its own right.

TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris\Durban group MD Justin McCarthy says Durban agencies are starting to make a bigger effort to retain creative skills and are aiming at more creative awards.

“We entered the Assegai Awards for the first time this year and picked up three awards,” he says. “We are on an aggressive drive to promote ourselves.

“I want to push Durban as a creative destination.

“There is huge presence [of designers] in the city, and a number of schools in Durban producing artists, filmmakers and musicians. There is a lot of talent here, but many youngsters prefer to go to Cape Town and Johannesburg.

“We are looking to keep them, and this is something I’m addressing through the Association for Communication & Advertising,” McCarthy says.

Historically, Durban agencies have not been as active as those in Johannesburg and Cape Town in promoting themselves, he says.

“Cape Town, in particular, has become very aggressive over the past decade and has been marketing itself as a creative city, as the design capital of the world. It now hosts the Design Indaba,” he says.

According to McCarthy, Durban contributes around R1bn of the R29bn that is spent on marketing and advertising in SA annually.

He believes there is room to grow this share. Though Unilever, the country’s biggest user of advertising, has its headquarters in Durban, McCarthy estimates that only 25% of the company’s marketing budget goes to agencies in the city.

Of SA’s provinces, Gauteng contributes 33,7% to the country’s annual GDP, followed by KwaZulu Natal (15,8%) and the Western Cape (14,1%), according to Statistics SA. Draftfcb Durban MD Wimpie le Roux says adspend is roughly in line with these percentages.

“Yet Durban does have a number of large corporations and advertisers, including skincare company Beiersdorf (a Draftfcb client), the Spar group, Unilever and Mr Price But, sadly, a number of Durban-based clients work with Johannesburg-based agencies,” he says.

Last year Draftfcb Durban won a silver award at the International Clio Awards and in 2010 it won a bronze at the SA Eagle Awards for excellence in print media advertising. But instances of Durban agencies picking up these awards are still few and far between. The only Durban winner at last year’s Loerie Awards was the Vega School in Durban, which won a campaign bronze for its Umthombo Money integrate campaign.

Haniff Hoosen, MD of The Durban Advertising Agency, says Durban agencies are usually content with business from smaller clients. This could be hampering their efforts to build their businesses and profile.

“The advertising industry in Durban has been somewhat stagnant. I put [this down] to a lack of national businesses coming to the city,” he says.