Ireland Davenport achieves Level 1 BEE rating after roping in black partners

After concluding a series of black economic empowerment (BEE) transactions that have led to an influx of top black professionals into its leadership ranks, leading South African advertising agency Ireland Davenport has scored its highest BEE rating since its inception 12 years ago.

Ireland Davenport (ID) has been awarded the coveted B-BBEE rating Level 1 contributor by leading Sanas rating agency, joining the club of the most transformed and empowered companies in the marketing, advertising and communication (MAC) industry.


ID’s previous highest B-BBEE rating was Level 2 contributor, which was attained last year following the company’s implementation of robust plans to comply and even exceed ownership targets of the MAC empowerment charter that came into effect in April 2016.

As a result of ID’s decision to bring black partners into its ownership structure, the award-winning agency’s rated black ownership has increased to 51% from 25.1%. With ID now rated as 51% black-owned, it means that the agency has exceeded the 45% black ownership target stipulated in the MAC charter, which has to be achieved by the industry by 31 March 2018.


“We are extremely thrilled by the progress we have made in a short space of time to reach our transformation targets. Our efforts have culminated in ID attaining the Level 1 B-BBEE status, which is a historical milestone for the company as it has never been achieved before.

“We have transformed ourselves into a black-owned and operated agency that is committed to serving the needs and aspirations of our clients from all walks of life,” said Brenda Khumalo, who recently joined ID as acting managing director.

Other black industry veterans who have joined the agency’s leadership and senior management are Mosidi Seretlo, who serves as non-executive chairman, and Qingqile “WingWing” Mdlulwa, who is the executive creative director.

Co-founder John Davenport, who has overseen ID’s growth since its establishment in 2005, is still part of the agency and currently serves as an executive director while Sharon Bergmann holds the position of chief financial officer.

The new black owners bring a wealth of industry experience, knowledge and a network of contacts. Khumalo recently returned to ID, bringing over 12-year industry track record with blue-chip clients like Edcon and Vodacom, and many others. Seretlo has worked in management at leading SA companies for more than 26 years and in 2013 served as Vodacom’s executive head of brand before being promoted to brand director, a position she held until 2016. She now owns her own consulting company, in addition to her non-executive chairperson role at ID. Mdlulwa joins Ireland Davenport as a 21-year industry veteran, with his credentials as a creative innovator and a driver of change almost unmatched in South Africa.

Mdlulwa said the transformation that is currently unfolding in the advertising and marketing sector is something that should be welcomed, but he also cautioned that more work has to be done to achieve true and meaningful transformation.

“The slow pace of transformation in our industry has been one of its biggest bugbears that made many black professionals deeply disgruntled.

“For a very long time, we were sitting with a situation where the sector was dominated by multinationals and white-owned independent agencies that were getting a big share of the marketing spend, despite having little or no black ownership. We are hopeful that the implementation of the MAC charter will address this aberration,” said Mdlulwa.

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