FGI Research Africa’s BRAD AIGNER analyses the 2021 MOST Awards results, delivering the trends and insights that come with having conducted research over a period of 11 years.
In a world experiencing unprecedented change, it was inevitable that this would reverberate across things closer to home. Thus, the MOST Awards Survey took a break in 2020 while we all tried to get to grips with the turmoil around us. While it seems that we are not yet in the clear with the pandemic, it has been fantastic to be able to run the survey again in 2021, keeping our much-loved and unique MOST Awards brand alive. Without the wonderful support of our media industry, this would not have been possible.
Notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic, one thing is certain as far as our industry goes: change is constant and dynamic. This year was no exception, with some significant industry developments requiring amendments to the MOST Awards methodology. Specifically, the Newspapers and Magazines categories were combined into a single Print category, while Television and Cinema similarly were merged into an Audiovisual category. In addition, some new innovations and categories were introduced this year, keeping the MOST Awards fresh and current.
Just short of 500 people employed in the buying and selling of media advertising space in South Africa participated in the MOST Awards Survey this year. Given the challenges faced by all, this was a fantastic response rate – in fact one of the best ever since the inception of the awards in 2009.
As usual, the profile of respondents was skewed to more experienced media practitioners (61% > 10 years in media), but it was pleasing to see the significant increase of respondents with fewer than five years of media experience in this year’s sample. While there is still a long way to go with transformation, it was encouraging to see the high calibre of young people who have joined our industry in recent years. This was noticeably evident from the candidates nominated for the special Rising Star awards for media owners and media agencies.
In total, 87 companies involved in the planning and buying of media advertising space and 66 companies involved in the selling thereof participated in the survey. No media professional nor formalised media company has ever been precluded from participating in the MOST Awards survey. It is this inclusivity that has always been so important in delivering samples that are fairly and reliably representative of the media buying and selling universe. This year was no exception.
The final hurdle that needed to be cleared was the audit of the MOST Awards survey methodology and final rankings by accounting firm BDO, which gave it the thumbs up. Phew!
MOST Awards for Media Owners 2021
There were 100 owners and sellers of media advertising space listed in seven categories this year:
- Out of Home
- Media Sales Consultants
As with every year, people directly involved in the planning and buying of media space rated their media-owner partners and sales consultants against specific performance criteria. It was emphasised in the survey that a person must consider themselves to have had sufficient contact with the sales team of a media company during the past six months to be able to rate the team fairly. Given that most planners and buyers of media space usually see multiple media-sales teams on a regular basis, this year each respondent selected and rates on average 11 media-sales teams in the survey.
Before asking respondents to select and rate the performance of media-sales teams in each category, the MOST Awards survey asked them to rank the six performance criteria in order of importance. The result of this ranking informed the calculation of criteria weighting factors, which were applied to the rating scores for every media-sales team. In this year’s survey, the ranking of performance criteria in order of importance was as follows:
Performance criteria Weighting factor
- Knowledge of own brands 1.48
- Sales service delivery 1.10
- Understanding of client brands 0.99
- Innovative solutions 0.96
- Collaboration and strategic partnerships 0.91
- Administration service delivery 0.79
In this year’s survey the historical ‘Involvement’ performance criterion was replaced by ‘Collaboration and strategic partnerships’. This came about after the annual review of the MOST Awards survey methodology by senior media stakeholders, who agreed that the new criteria would be a stronger differentiator of sales performance between the teams. The descriptors used in the survey to contextualise the meaning of ‘Collaboration and strategic partnerships’ to respondents included:
- Committed to building strong business relationships
- Genuinely committed to ‘adding real value’
- Open and genuinely committed to new ideas
- Genuinely committed to finding fair solutions to problems and disputes
Audiovisual Category 2021
In this year’s survey the Television and Cinema categories were combined to form an Audiovisual category. This decision was not taken lightly by the aforementioned senior media practitioners who participated in the annual MOST Awards review, and was debated at length. Ultimately, it was agreed that it would be preferable to have a combined audiovisual category rather than one comprising just two media owners listed (Cinema).
The winner of this’s years MOST Awards in the Audiovisual category was e.tv, followed by DStv Media Sales and Ster-Kinekor Sales respectively.
All three companies in the rankings have been perennial top performers in their categories over the years, with e.tv winning its category on three previous occasions while DStv Media Sales and Ster-Kinekor Sales have each done the same on five previous occasions respectively. Considering the catastrophic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on cinemas over the past 18 months, a big shout-out must go to the Ster-Kinekor team, which has evidently managed to maintain communication and positive engagement with its clients over this time.
The e.tv team received 37 ‘Best in category’ votes from respondents who were clearly impressed with their performance. One explained: “They have a product offering that shows understanding of the evolving South African audience. They demonstrate great willingness to partner with agencies and clients through difficult times. Their innovative solutions are carried through well into implementation and post campaign. They consistently deliver great service in person and always deliver in full. Their viewership is increasing, which is another great reason to continue investing in the platform.”
Another commented: “eMedia Sales has remained on top of their game even with all the challenges that this year has brought … they have made an effort to keep in contact, host virtual meetings and take a genuine interest in us.”
Another described the teams as “business savvy, service focused and excellent at building relationships. They are forward thinking and have managed their channel offerings extremely well; they are extending quietly but consistently and let their numbers speak for themselves. Their back end also delivers, so there is absolute follow-through from talking the talk to walking the walk.”
Pipped at the post again in the category ranking this year, the DStv Media Sales team must be wondering what more it needs to do to secure the top position. From the comments by respondents who rated DStv Media Sales as the best in the category, there is little doubt that the team is a class act. One voter explained: “They are by far the most innovative. They have the best offering in terms of cost-effective spots and packages that deliver high ratings and reach. Their sales team is the most knowledgeable and always delivers outstanding proposals and offers.”
Another said: “DStv Media Sales always goes above and beyond for our clients. They have introduced some innovative new products/offerings. They are always putting together proactive proposals for our clients with content that is appropriate for the brand. And all-round great service from sales reps to those making the bookings.”
And a third commented: “They always remain ahead of the curve in terms of innovation and new technology. They keep clients up to date with new offerings, while also nurturing the media industry. They see themselves as a media partner to brands and agencies. They are excellent at coming up with collaborative solutions.”
Radio Category 2021
The Radio Category has continued to be fiercely contested by very strong teams that have pushed each other to take sales delivery to new heights. This year the Primedia Broadcasting team repeated its 2018 and 2019 feats by taking top honours, leaving arch rival Mediamark in second spot. Given the historically strong and consistent performance by Mediamark in the MOST Awards, the team at Primedia Broadcasting should be justifiably proud of its hat trick. A welcome newcomer to the podium this year was the team at YFM. The best that YFM could do in the MOST Awards previously was a fifth-place ranking, so the team has evidently found a winning recipe and should be watched in future.
|Rank||Radio 2021||Votes||MOST Score|
The Primedia Broadcasting team received 44 ‘Best in category’ votes this year, a strong indication of its top pedigree. The team was described as “a passionate, engaging and proactive sales team. They always bring relevant proposals that reflect a good understanding of client and agency objectives. They have a thorough understanding and genuine love of their own brands, and work well together as a team to provide innovative solutions.”
Another echoed this sentiment: “Primedia Broadcasting has been outstanding with collaboration and customising solutions that are a good fit to the client’s strategic needs without compromising on their own brand values.” A third commented: “They are the best at executing campaigns and bespoke partnerships. They have the most innovative and creative proposals. They have the best understanding of our clients and brands, and understand how radio integrates with the overall media strategy.”
Not to be overshadowed by any means, the Mediamark team was held in very high regard by respondents in this year’s survey. One summarised this neatly as follows: “The sales team has remained in touch with the agency, doing regular catch-ups and trade presentations. They also trialled a new sales model, which showed their innovation and eagerness to overcome market challenges brought on by the pandemic in 2020.”
Another said: “They have been the most innovative and the best in trying to ensure that our clients are their number-one priority. They have put together various packages that have assisted greatly during the Covid-19 period, which has put Mediamark as a top-of-mind radio media owner when it comes to getting our clients value for money.”
Primedia Broadcasting and Mediamark have collectively dominated the Radio category over the years, with either one winning the category every year since 2009. Notwithstanding this, both are yet to win the coveted overall best media owner MOST Award, so there is still something huge to play for.
Out of Home Category 2021
Another media category that has no doubt experienced trying times in recent months is the Out of Home Category. But the MOST Awards history has shown that the teams in this category are resilient and determined, and thus unlikely to have allowed their standards of service to decline. Evidence of this is the impressive result by Primedia Outdoor, improving on its second place in 2019 by winning the category, a feat it last achieved in 2016. Second spot this year went to 2019’s category winner, Relativ Media, and third to Mamela Media.
|Rank||Out of Home 2021||Votes||MOST Score|
The Out of Home Category had no fewer than 27 companies listed this year, making it the largest category in the survey and not unlike the out of home category in the market, with many competitors vying for a share of the pie. Thus, the achievements by the relatively small teams at Relativ Media and Mamela Media have been commendable. Notwithstanding this, it is by no means an easy task maintaining the highest levels of service by a larger team, as it takes just one or two people to drop the ball. So kudos to Primedia Outdoor for its excellent result.
The Primedia Outdoor team achieved a particularly high score for the ‘Innovation’ criteria in this year’s survey. On respondent explained: “Primedia has a diversity of offerings managed by a skilled team of experienced people who consistently deliver a professional service.” The team also delivered an impressive score for ‘Sales service delivery’, which was supported by the following comment: “Primedia always comes to the party! During 2020, one of the toughest years for OOH, they were the best media owner that we worked with. Whatever we asked for, they delivered.”
Relativ Media, the 2019 category winner, has evidently maintained its excellent level of service to media-agency partners and advertising clients. One respondent commented: “They are nimble, proactive and hungry for success. They are chasing the bigger groups by applying their own brand of partnership building through collaboration and innovation.”
Another said: “Not reactionary and don’t just try to sell the next billboard. Well-thought-out solutions and data backing up their recommendations. An impressive team of professionals.”
The Mamela Media team delivered excellent scores for the criteria ‘Sales service delivery’ and ‘Administration service delivery’. The team was described as “a pleasure to deal with. Always try to find an affordable solution for clients. Turnaround time is amazing. Will always find a way to give clients real value for their budgets.”
Digital Category 2021
The Digital Category has arguably shown the most dynamic growth in recent years. With digital the current ‘darling’ of the media industry, the category has experienced an influx of new entrants and innovations. So it has no doubt been challenging for media sales teams in the category to claim a fair share of media decision-makers’ minds.
A digital media owner that has not only achieved this but also maintained its leadership in service excellence is the team at AdColony, which for the third year running is the MOST Awards winner in the category! Interestingly, two sales teams in the category made the MOST Awards podium for the first time, Ad:Dynamo and Vicinity Media respectively. We expect these newcomers not to easily relinquish their positions easily in years to come, so watch this space.
|Rank||Digital 2019||Votes||MOST Score|
From its 21 ‘Best in category’ votes, high scores across every performance criteria and positive comments from voters, there is no doubt that the AdColony team is a great one. It’s one thing being able to win the MOST Award in a highly dynamic and competitive category, but it’s another thing altogether to achieve this feat three times running.
One voter explained: “AdColony is always proactive with proposals for our clients. They are extremely knowledgeable in their specific field of in-app advertising and are very willing to assist us with a variety of ways to get our clients, especially those new to digital, into the digital space. The team at AdColony comprises very approachable and future thinkers for our brands.”
The AdColony team has also clearly made a significant impact with its client relationship building in recent years. A respondent commented: “I think it comes down to the relationship on this one. They are a group of dynamic professionals who are continually checking in with us and servicing our business.” Another described the team as follows: “Service, innovation, results, trust.”
Ad:Dynamo, the advertising sales team for brands including Twitter and Snapchat, made a strong positive impression in this year’s survey, achieving a particularly high score for the criteria ‘Collaboration and strategic partnerships’. A voter commented: “Ad:Dynamo are always communicating and ensuring that we have the best opportunities for all campaigns. They are involved in every process of campaign setups and strategy meetings. Overall, they always provide great support.” Another said: “They are an enthusiastic team, from junior personnel to senior personnel they drive excitement and interest in their brands. They all have a real can-do attitude and are always more than willing to go the extra mile. They also continuously educate the industry about their product offerings.”
Vicinity Media, the location data and technology outfit, also impressed: “They are very solutions driven, and collaboration is paramount to their offering,” said one voter. “As a technology business, they also have the ability to develop solutions for clients’ needs.”
A commendable mention this year goes to the team at The SpaceStation in fourth spot, albeit a little off the pace with an overall score of 7.35. Previously branded as 24.com, the team was one of the very first digital media owners to make a significant impact on our industry way back in 2009. The Cape Town-based team has pioneered the category, setting new standards of service excellence and winning the MOST Award in its category on six occasions.
Print Category 2021
It has possibly never been as challenging to sell print media advertising space as it is now, so it is admirable that the leaders in this category have stuck doggedly to the task at hand and elevated their service to even higher levels. With the Magazines category severely depleted following the closure of Caxton Magazines and Associated Magazines, the decision was made to combine the traditional Magazines and Newspapers categories into a Print category this year.
The winner of the MOST Award in the Print category this year was Arena Holdings, followed by Spark Media and Ads24 respectively. While Arena Holdings is no newcomer to the highest of MOST Award honours, having won the overall best media owner MOST Award on no less than three previous occasions, given its multiple name changes in recent years the team should feel justifiably proud of its achievement.
|Rank||Print 2021||Votes||MOST Score|
The Arena Holdings team that sells media space for its suite of magazines and newspaper brands achieved particularly high scores for the performance criteria ‘Knowledge of own brands’ and ‘Sales service delivery’, showing that the ‘good old basics’ of sales are still so very relevant.
One respondent supported this notion by explaining, “Their service delivery and engagement are high. They are honest and open, and have been flexible during Covid-19 step changes.” Another said: “They are very solid and professional. They have good, strong people building good, strong relationships.”
Given that Ads24 and Spark Media have won this MOST Awards category on three and two previous occasions respectively, it is unlikely that they are going to take this year’s result lying down. Consistently in the top MOST Awards rankings and overall best media owner winner in 2010 (as NAB Caxton), the Spark Media team was described as such: “They are just one step ahead of the rest in terms of engaging with us to supply current, useful information. They are super speedy and efficient in all their reverts and correspondence. Our rep is always sending us useful industry info or just touching base enough to keep us informed without any irritation value. Their internal processes are slick. They are an amazing media partner on pretty much every level.”
Multimedia Category 2021
The new MOST Awards Multimedia category recognises and celebrates the accelerating convergence of media brands, which is the inevitable future of our industry. To qualify for this category, a media owner must have been selling advertising space across three or more media categories. While five media owners were listed in this inaugural category, only one qualified with the minimum 30 votes: Primedia. Given that a Primedia company was the overall winner in this year’s Radio and Out of Home categories, this is befitting recognition of a job well done.
|Rank||Multimedia 2021||Votes||Most Score|
With a very impressive score for the criteria ‘Innovative solutions’, it seems that the Primedia Group has been coming to grips with the strong forces of convergence in our industry, standing it in good stead for the future. One voter summed this up about Primedia: “Offering not only one channel but also a multichannel approach to reach different/additional audiences on different platforms.” Another said: “Research and information across their platforms are the most comprehensive across the categories. They really understand the importance of integration and their ability to deliver on it.”
While Primedia should be justifiably proud of its achievements this year, from a multimedia perspective it should heed the significant threat of its perennial media owner competitors, Media24 and Mediamark, both of which did not qualify for the MOST Award because of insufficient votes. We doubt they will allow this to happen again.
Media Sales Consultants
Media sales consultants are sellers of advertising space in media brands that they do not themselves own, or for which they do not have exclusive media sales rights. This has become a well-contested category in recent years, with 16 companies listed in this year’s survey. The winner of the category this year is the team from Ultimate Media, which also makes a first-time entrance into the top placings. Another newcomer to the podium is Whisper Media, ranked second in the category.
|Rank||Media Sales Consultants 2021||Votes||Most Score|
The Ultimate Media team, specialists in radio and digital audio advertising, achieved impressive scores for the criteria ‘Knowledge of own brands’ and ‘Sales service delivery’, showing that they are at the top of their game. One respondent said of the team: “They have done incredible work for my clients, which is why they keep coming back. Their creative concepts are solid and the execution thereof smooth.”
The team at Whisper Media, which plays in the audiovisual broadcasting space, delivered strong scores across all six performance criteria and was described as follows: “The team are real professionals with an excellent work ethic. Their service is top class. Their product is ‘innovation made easy’ – a dream for a media agency to work with.”
Lamb Award for Media Owners 2021
The Lamb Award for Media Owners is awarded to a media owner from any media category that receives between 25-29 votes, just missing the required 30 votes minimum to qualify for a MOST Award. This year’s winner of the Lamb Award is Media24 Lifestyle from the Print media category. The minor placings in the category this year went to Turn Left Media and Cinevation Popcorn respectively.
|Rank||Media Owner Lamb Award 2021||Votes||MOST Score|
|1||Media24 Lifestyle (Print)||25||8.91|
|2||Turn Left Media (Digital)||27||7.60|
|3||Cinevation Popcorn (AudioVisual)||26||7.35|
Notably, the Media24 Lifestyle team achieved the highest overall MOST Awards score in the Print category. A respondent contextualised the Media24 team as follows: “Although many publications were lost in 2020, Media24 has been the media owner always looking for different ways for our clients to be in either print, digital or activation linked to their publications. This has allowed our brands to get the best possible exposure to their target audiences.” Another said: “They have innovated in a very uncertain time and have managed to stay relevant. They have been an excellent ‘think’ partner and delivered well on all commitments.”
While the team’s achievement as the winner of the Lamb Award is not surprising, given that it has won the Magazines category on five previous occasions, its inability to secure at least 30 votes is likely to be of concern to this very proud and competitive team.
Overall Best Media Owner 2021
Winning the coveted MOST Award for the Overall Best Media Owner in 2021 was the sales team from AdColony, making it a first-ever hat-trick achievement. In second place this year was 2019’s sixth-placed media owner, Primedia Outdoor, while 2019’s overall fifth-placed media owner, Relativ Media, made it into the top three in this year’s survey.
From its spectacular achievement this year and in the previous two MOST Awards surveys, there is no doubt that the AdColony team has found the winning formula for delivering media sales service excellence.
|Rank||Media Owners 2021 – Overall Rankings (Top 20)||Category||Votes||MOST Score|
|2||Primedia Outdoor||Out of Home||64||8.38|
|3||Relativ Media||Out of Home||51||8.22|
|4||Mamela Media||Out of Home||32||8.16|
|7||JCDecaux||Out of Home||61||8.12|
|12||Tractor Outdoor||Out of Home||45||8.03|
|14||DStv Media Sales||Audiovisual||112||7.96|
MOST Award for Marketing Services 2021
The competition in the Marketing Services category has increased spectacularly since its introduction in 2018, with no fewer than 54 companies nominated this year. There is little doubt that given the challenges faced by all in recent times, the vital role marketing services teams play in supporting their sales colleagues has been elevated to new levels. Marketing services have clearly advanced well beyond ‘a few advertisements in trade media’ each year to a function that delivers significant value.
As with the methodology for media owners, the Marketing Services category required respondents to rank four performance criteria relating to the craft in order of importance. This year, the criteria were ranked and weighted as follows:
Performance criteria Weighting factor
- Market intelligence 1.23
- Relationship building 1.12
- Trade marketing 0.90
- Reputation management 0.85
The winner of this year’s MOST Awards for Marketing Services was DStv Media Sales, with e.tv and Mediamark making up the minor placings respectively.
“They were constantly setting up virtual meetings as well as regular email updates to bring info to the industry,” enthused one respondent about DStv Media Sales. “They stood head and shoulders above any of the others.” Another said: “Their trade marketing evolved in 2020. Their reports, updates and email newsletters were strategic and more importantly valuable to the team. They certainly stood out in the right way in 2020.” A third comment: “Their virtual presentations to keep the industry up to date on their offerings, alongside delivery to our homes of goody bags relevant to their presentations during the past year, have certainly allowed us to feel part of the team.”
|Rank||Marketing Services 2021||Category||Votes||MOST Score|
|1||DStv Media Sales||Audiovisual||42||8.59|
*20 votes minimum was set as the qualification criteria for this category.
The Virtually Perfect Services Award 2021
The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how business is conducted. Possibly no less dramatic has been the extent to which customer-facing teams have needed to adapt to the realities of lockdowns and social-distancing protocols to continue delivering excellent service to their clients. In this context, it felt befitting to award a once-off Virtually Perfect Services Award that recognises a media-owner sales team that has taken a firm grip on business unusual through its innovative and effective use of virtual practices, such as:
- Effectively moving from face-to-face to online communication platforms
- Helping its clients forecast/plan for the long term in an unpredictable future
- Using virtual practices to share information and to keep its clients in the loop
- Using virtual platforms to replace client visits and face-to-face meetings
- Continuing to provide excellent service in the business unusual world
The unanimous winner of the Virtually Perfect Services Award was the team at DStv Media Sales. One survey participant explained: “They were the strongest during Covid-19, keeping agencies well informed about their brands and audience share. They responded well to market issues such as zero rating and we had access to their top management at all times.”
Another said: “They have been very professional and innovative, and consistently pushed the envelope. The work they have done during Covid-19 has been nothing short of exceptional in terms of keeping in touch with our agency. They are world class.” And a third summed up the DStv team performance appropriately by saying: “If I think of all the media owners who stepped up to the challenge of Covid-19 and were agile enough still to do their best to service our agency, DStv Media Sales stands out. They almost treated Covid-19 as an opportunity more than a challenge, and to this I have to say they were the best of the best in 2020. Amazing webinars, regular check-ins, newsletter updates, amazing service delivery … the list goes on. Hats off to that team!”
MOST Awards for Media Agencies 2021
As with previous years, the media agencies in this year’s MOST Awards for Media Agencies survey were listed in two categories, namely Full-Service Media Agencies and Specialist Media Agencies. The usual ranking in order of importance of the criteria against which media agencies were scored by respondents was also retained, yielding the following weighting factors:
Performance criteria Weighting factor
- Knowledge of media 1.31
- Knowledge of client brands 1.25
- Communication 1.13
- Collaboration and strategic partnerships 1.09
- Professionalism 0.90
- Administration and buying 0.65
As with the Media Owners component of the survey this year, the previous ‘Involvement’ performance criteria for Media Agencies was replaced by the criteria ‘Collaboration and strategic partnerships’. The descriptors used in the survey to contextualise the meaning of ‘Collaboration and strategic partnerships’ for respondents included:
- Genuinely committed to business relationships with media partners
- Treats media partners with respect
- Genuinely considers media proposals
- Attends media presentations and reads media partner collateral
- Open to facilitating meetings with its clients
- Open and genuinely committed to new ideas
- Creates a ‘welcoming atmosphere’ for media partners
- Committed to frequent collaboration and engagement with media partners
- Senior management is easily contactable and accessible
- Senior management takes an active interest in media partners
Given the significance and value that strong business relationships have traditionally delivered and continue to deliver to media owners and media agencies, we expect these performance criteria to move up the importance ranking in future years.
Specialist Media Agencies 2021
A total of 13 companies involved in the planning and buying of media space were listed in this year’s Specialist Media Agencies category of the MOST Awards survey.
A relative newcomer to the MOST Awards, Ogilvy Go Media was this year’s winner of the category, relegating the 2017-2019 winner, Alphabet Soup, to second place – a notable achievement for the Ogilvy Group media department. Third spot in the Specialist Media category went to TMI Media, which was ranked in the same position in 2019.
|Rank||Specialist Media Agencies 2021||Votes||MOST Score|
|1||Ogilvy Go Media||30||8.25|
The Ogilvy Go team achieved high scores across all six performance criteria, with their scores for ‘Knowledge of media’ and ‘Knowledge of client brands’ especially impressive. They also collected 11 ‘Best in category’ votes. A respondent said of the Ogilvy Go team: “The agency knows their clients extremely well as they have long-term relationships. Their clients trust them implicitly, and people on the ground are open and honest to what their clients like and don’t like, even how to open them up to strategic collaborations with the correct timing.” Another said: “A tough category, but these guys have really tried to do different things under tough economic conditions, interrogating many proposals on how they would work best for their clients. On declines, feedback was always forthcoming, which helps tune in future proposals.”
Alphabet Soup has been the Specialist Media Agency category winner in the MOST Awards on three previous occasions, achieving a hat trick in the 2019 survey. This year’s second-place result, albeit commendable, is not likely to be considered a success by the team, who no doubt will fight to regain the top spot in future years! Nevertheless, the team’s consistently high standards were recognised by numerous respondents. One said: “This dream team is a small force not to be trifled with. They are always willing to listen, learn, adapt and innovate as the media landscape shifts daily. Their willingness to communicate immediately, always supplying feedback as to why something may not have aligned along with feedback from the client, never leaves a media owner wondering or questioning.” Another added: “The team at Alphabet Soup always takes the time to meet the media owner and learn about new developments and opportunities. They are an experienced team who are all passionate about what they do. The Alphabet Soup team has a strong work ethic and it is always such a pleasure working with them.”
TMI Media will be another determined to improve on its third-place rankings in 2019 and 2021. Judging by its 15 ‘Best in category’ votes and comments from respondents this year, this is not unlikely. One respondent commended their “client knowledge, willingness to share/communicate. Open to suggestions, willing to try new approaches. They have won some big accounts, which is a testament to the quality of work that they are putting out.” Another said: “As strategic thinkers, they really understand how to come up with and implement new methods of using media to strengthen brands”.
Full-Service Media Agencies 2021
Twenty-nine companies were listed in the Full-Service Media Agencies category of this year’s MOST Awards survey, making it the largest category of both the media owners’ and media agencies’ sectionS. Of no surprise to many, it was The MediaShop Johannesburg that once again took top honours, the eighth time in eleven years that the Agency has won this category – a truly remarkable achievement. However, not very far behind The MediaShop team this year were Carat (Johannesburg) and Vizeum (Johannesburg), which were ranked second and third in the category respectively. Had a couple of voters been more generous, this year’s result could easily have been different, but hats off to The MediaShop team that has managed year in and year out to deliver the goods.
|Rank||Full-Service Media Agencies 2021||Votes||MOST Score|
|1||The MediaShop (Johannesburg)||68||8.41|
Winning the coveted Full-Service Media Agencies category is laudable, but doing so for three MOST Awards surveys in a row on two previous occasions (2011-2013 and 2018-2021) is truly outstanding. In addition to collecting 27 ‘Best in category’ votes, The MediaShop Johannesburg team achieved the highest scores for the criteria ‘Knowledge of media’, ‘Knowledge of client brands’ and ‘Communication’.
A media owner respondent had the following to say about The MediaShop Johannesburg team: “They are always accommodating. Have a great group of senior managers who run their teams well. Are keen to listen to any sort of offering brought to them, be it good or bad. Very professional when dealing with both client and media owners.” Another said: “The team is experienced, collaborative and open to suggestions. They are humble, down to earth, responsive and give a sh1t.” Enough said.
While is might seem impossible to topple The MediaShop Johannesburg from its lofty perch in the MOST Awards, the Carat and Vizeum teams should take heart because both came agonisingly close to achieving this this year. Carat achieved the highest score for the criteria ‘Collaboration and strategic partnerships’. “The team is clear about client and agency objectives, and how to use media-owner platforms to meet their KPAs,” said one respondent. “Always upholding the highest level of professionalism at all times with an open-door policy where clarity is required. This agency is always looking for next best thing that media owners can offer to their clients.” Another said: “Their team dynamic is something that I have never seen in the other agencies. All the team work together and ensure all media executions flow through the line. They are committed to their clients and always strive to be innovative.”
Vizeum is also likely to give The MediaShop a good run for its money in the MOST Awards in future if it continues to perform as it has done this year. The team achieved an excellent score for ‘Communication’ and very high scores for the other five performance criteria. One respondent explained: “Creating hybrid digital strategists and building an internal digital team have assisted the team in delivering a more effective media solution.”
Lamb Award for Media Agencies 2021
Had either of the two top-ranked media agencies for this year’s Lamb Award collected just one more vote, they would have won their respective categories. This year’s winner of the Lamb Award for Media Agencies went to The MediaShop (Cape Town) making it another very successful MOST Awards for The MediaShop Group. Second and third spots went to IntiMedia and Posterscope respectively.
|Rank||Media Agency Lamb Award 2021||Category||Votes||MOST Score|
|1||The MediaShop (Cape Town)||Full-service||29||8.86|
While The MediaShop (Cape Town) did not match its second-ranked media agency overall in the 2019 MOST Awards survey, it should be well pleased with its score this year, achieving higher marks than its big brother/sister in Johannesburg across every criteria. One voter shared: “The MediaShop in Cape Town continues to be the most consistent team even throughout the pandemic. The team has continued to innovate through lockdown, communicating consistently and celebrating partnerships in a time when many have stepped back.” Another said: “Their staff always take the time to meet, listen and discuss opportunities available to their clients. They were very accommodating and attentive, and they took the lead in maintaining contact and business relations during lockdown. They had their own challenges, as we have all had, but their staff individually and collectively still reached out when it was mutually essential for the benefit of the client and our industry.”
The IntiMedia result in this year’s MOST Awards was impressive, especially considering it was a relative newcomer to the survey. The team was described by one respondent as “specialists in ATL and the digital landscape. They have outstanding relationships with their key partners and without fail implement the best-suited media channels for their clients. Their strategies are in depth and media briefs comprehensive.” Another commented: “They are exceptional strategic partners who have not only a great understanding of their clients’ needs and expectations, but also an incredible media knowledge and overall understanding across traditional and digital media offerings.”
The Posterscope team maintained its high standard from 2019, where it was ranked second in the Specialist Media Agencies category, placing third in this year’s Lamb Award category. The out of home specialist achieved particularly high scores for ‘Knowledge of media’ and for ‘Collaboration and strategic partnerships’. A respondent had the following to say about the team: “Most effective in communication and continually work with media owners to push the boundaries and provide dynamic solutions. Always open with feedback.”
Overall Best Media Agency 2021
The winner of the MOST Awards for the best overall media agency in 2021 went to The MediaShop (Johannesburg)! Carat (Johannesburg) and Vizeum (Johannesburg) took second and third place respectively.
|Rank||Media Agencies 2021 – Overall Rankings (Top 15)||Category||Votes||MOST Score|
|1||The MediaShop (Johannesburg)||Full-service||68||8.41|
|4||Ogilvy Go Media||Specialist||30||8.25|
|8||Meta Media (Johannesburg)||Full-service||30||8.01|
There is not much that one may say to The MediaShop (Johannesburg) team, except perhaps “Take a bow”, because this team has delivered a level of excellence and consistency that no other media agency has come close to matching. There are so many good things that have been said about The MediaShop (Johannesburg) in the MOST Awards over the years, which no doubt will continue to be said in future. But perhaps the following comment by a media owner sums up the collective sentiment of the team appropriately: “Most collaborative. Most fair. Most transformed. Most innovative.” Congratulations on another fantastic achievement.
Photos of the hybrid awards event by the MOST Awards organising team in the gallery below.
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