The inside track of AdForum's twice-annual World Summits
Johanna McDowell counsels clients and agencies around expectations in the advertising, marketing process. She is CEO of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS), a division of black-owned marketing services group Mazole Holdings. Contact Johanna on tel +27 (0)11 462 3750, email her at and follow her on Twitter at @jomcdowell.
Born and educated in the UK, Johanna McDowell graduated from Twickenham College of Technology with a business and marketing qualification in the early 1970s.
Her initial employment positions were in the retail and marketing spheres, the latter post being with United Biscuits, a listed company specialising in the manufacture and distribution of biscuits and crips in the UK.
Moving to South Africa in the late 70s, McDowell joined SSC&B Lintas, one of the largest advertising agencies in the country at that time. After five years, she moved to Grey-Phillips, Bunton, Mundel & Blake, considered then as one of the hottest new ad agencies in SA in the early 80s.
McDowell returned to UK in the late 80s and took up a position as new business and marketing development director at UK Top Twenty ad agency group Brookes & Vernons, where she remained until 1989. Returning to SA late 1989 to take up the position of MD at Grey Philips, McDowell found a changed landscape at that agency and within the industry, due to the extensive changes happening in the country at that time.
From Grey, McDowell moved to Allied Bank as head of marketing in 1991, where she oversaw the partial merger of Allied into Absa until 1992.
An entrepreneur at heart, McDowell opened her own integrated communications company in 1992 and built it to a sizeable (R8 million turnover and 20 staff), independently owned company over 13 years before moving to Mazole Holdings in 2005.
IAS was founded in SA by Mazole Holdings in 2006 in response to the recognised need for a service that would assist in the professionalisation of the industry in SA. Affiliated to the AAR Group in the UK, IAS has quickly been establishing its reputation as an independent advisor to both parties during the pitch process.
In addition to her duties as CEO of the IAS, Johanna McDowell is chief executive and 40% shareowner of Mazole Holdings, a black-owned marketing services group whose other shareholder is Dan Moyane, chairman of the company.
Throughout her career, McDowell has been dedicated to the development and empowerment of women in business. She founded and headed the Midlands branch of the original business women's Network in the UK during the mid 1980s. She has played a leading role in business women's organisations in SA and the UK since the mid 80s and was chairman of the Business Woman of the Year Awards for two years.
McDowell is a board member of the International Public Relations Association (IPRA), judging at international PR awards on their behalf over the past 13 years. She is also committed to the improvement of standards of director education and has played a strong role within the Institute of Directors of Southern Africa (IOD) in a voluntary capacity, currently holding a board membership at the organisation.
Contact Johanna on tel +27 (0)11 462 3750, email her at and follow her on Twitter at @jomcdowell.
A brilliant presentation on entrepreneurialism and coming prosperity from one of the gurus in the US, followed by an update on Saving Europe – a campaign led by Moray McClennan, worldwide CEO for Saatchi, in his role as president of European Association of Communication Agencies and then the announcements of the new agency and new team in New York.
M&C Saatchi now has 26 offices in the world, the most recent opening (re-opening) being in New York city. Very impressive morning and spot on timing.
Moving on to McCann – meeting with Nick O Brien, worldwide CEO, who updated us on the past turbulent two and a half years at McCann as he brings lots of change and innovation to the world’s oldest network established 100 years ago this year. Looks like he is on the right track and certainly the changes we have seen in South Africa mirror the changes in many other offices of McCann in the world. Watch this space!
Ending the day at iCrossing, a very strong digital and data agency, now owned by Hearst Publishing – themselves a long term player in the publishing industry worldwide.
And so that was the summit this year. One of the best ones the IAS has attended to date – it was my fourth in New York – and certainly so stimulating that it will provide food for thought for the next 12 months!
Please be in contact with me in the coming weeks should you need any further input or feedback on the Summit.
The AdForum Worldwide Summit is a unique and highly focused event for leading Agency Search consultants from markets around the world, to meet and interact with agency network CEO’s and management teams from all disciplines including creative, media, digital, PR, direct, marketing services and more.
Agencies that consultants will visit include: Ogilvy, Saatchi & Saatchi, Fred & Farid, Buzzman, Euro RSCG, BETC Network, Publicis Groupe, hosted by Group CEO Maurice Levy, Herezie, Proximity and BBDO
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