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.
[Johanna McDowell] There are a few trends to be aware of in 2013 which will help create opportunities within the advertising and marketing arena in South Africa. A number of these come from local and international intelligence.
[Johanna McDowell] NEW YORK CITY: We ate a delicious dinner at the oldest (former) synagogue in New York, now an art gallery and event space - organised by Ogilvy, who had hosted us earlier that day for a presentation - as part of the 2012 AdForum Worldwide Summit.
[Johanna McDowell] NEW YORK CITY: I arrived in New York City yesterday for the 2012 AdForum Worldwide Summit – a 16-hour flight and then a four-hour delay at Kennedy Airport - their officials were on a go-slow – trying to prove a point ahead of the elections. Does that sound familiar?
[Johanna McDowell] I will be blogging once again this year from the AdForum Worldwide Summit in New York City Summit next week, 14 – 19 October 2012. It is a seriously busy agenda – and, as always, it is brilliant for us to have access to the worldwide CEOs of the agencies we meet.
[Johanna McDowell] Digital or online agencies are different to lead agencies, as they operate in the online space by creating and implementing digital marketing campaigns that get onto online networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Whatever digital dilemma a client may have, digital agencies have the ability to provide a holistic solution.