The fresh and ready Ireland Davenport has already secured blue-ribbon clients like Standard Bank (PBBSA division), Primedia and EWN, leveraging strong client relationships and relevant creative skills to produce authentically South African campaigns. The new clients join established ID clients Isuzu, Avis, Bliss Brands and Plascon.
As a young agency, ID has been recognised for its revolutionary impact in the industry since it commenced operations. ID has also long been known for visionary management and an entrepreneurial spirit, having snared the AdFocus 2014 Agency Leader of the Year award.
Ireland Davenport has recently been rated as a Level 1 BEE, 51% black-owned QSE, and the current executive management comprises Qingqile “WingWing” Mdlulwa as executive creative director, Brenda Khumalo, nee Mtshali, as executive client service director, and Sharon Bergmann as chief financial officer. Mosidi Seretlo serves as non-executive chairman, and co-founder John Davenport stays on as an executive director.
Executive client services director Khumalo recently returned to Ireland Davenport, bringing a proven, 12-year industry track record with clients like Edcon and Vodacom, and a network of contacts across the industry.
Non-executive chairperson Seretlo has worked in management at leading SA companies for more than 26 years. She started her career at Unilever, followed by a stint at SAB, where she was general manager of Hansa Pilsner. She joined Vodacom in 2013 as executive head of brand, then served as brand director until 2016. She now owns her own consulting company, in addition to her non-executive chairperson role.
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.
“When the Ireland Davenport opportunity came, I was immediately interested,” he says. “I was thrilled to see the new dynamic taking shape and the commitment to real transformation.”
Brenda Khumalo hustled her way into the advertising industry in Durban, making contacts and soaking up knowledge as she became one of the most respected account directors in the game.
“I am greatly thankful for all the training and mentorship I received when I was starting out,” says Brenda. “This is why today ID puts such value on mentoring to drive the next phase of our industry development.
“Transformation for us means identifying future leaders in the staff we hire, with preference for black females. We groom and incentivise them. People who believe in you sometimes see things you don’t see in yourself. That drives people’s confidence, and confidence drives the work.”
Soweto-raised Mdlulwa has been a mainstay of the creative industry and a trailblazer for black talent since his early work on Vodacom’s Yebo Gogo campaign. He also worked on Eskom’s Operation Khanyisa, recognised by the World Economic Forum as an inspirational social-issue campaign.
His other iconic campaigns have included Chicken Licken, True Love magazine and Toyota, en route to spells running his own agencies, being appointed chairman of the Loerie Awards, serving as a Cannes jury member and being D&AD jury foreman. Mdlulwa is also a past Financial Mail Adfocus New Broom award winner.
“Creating the quintessential South African agency starts here, now, at Ireland Davenport,” says Mdlulwa.
“I’m tired of defending advertising for issues like the stereotypical depiction of black people in ads. In most cases, we as black advertising professionals haven’t had the real power to change that.”
Now, as an empowered management team, Khumalo and Mdlulwa are able to craft culturally relevant campaigns, partnering with their clients and speaking truth to power in creating authentic campaigns that really matter to audiences.
“We as an industry have not even begun to scratch the surface of the magic that South African culture can give us,” says Mdlulwa.
“It’s not always easy to challenge the brief,” says Khumalo. “But in the end, clients appreciate it. It’s real talk, but that’s what they want from us – real, authentic, targeted work.
“We have great client relationships,” says Khumalo, recounting how some clients drop by the agency unannounced. “We had a client in here hot-desking the other day. That’s when you know you’ve got a good thing going!”
“This new phase feels amazing,” says Mdlulwa. “The agency is packed with young, energetic people who walk the talk.”
Ireland Davenport is refreshed, transformed and open for business, an authentic, relevant agency that’s in touch with the market, with the creative chops and the client-service experience to do brands justice.