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#FMAdFocus2020: All the winners!

The winners of all the FM AdFocus Awards 2020 were crowned at a small gathering at The Empire in Parktown on Wednesday, 25 November, with Agency of Year Triple Eight walking away with the prestigious title for the second time. The agency also took the title in 2019.
Although not the first agency in AdFocus history to have won the award consecutively, Triple Eight has achieved this feat in a year that no one could have predicted with Covid-19, leading to countries, including South Africa, going into lockdown impacting on businesses, including agencies and their clients.

FM AdFocus Awards 2020 overall Agency of Year Triple Eight
FM AdFocus Awards 2020 overall Agency of Year Triple Eight

Despite a loss of three-quarters of their campaigns in March this year, Triple Eight still grew their business and added new clients and team members to their business. No surprise that the agency also won the inaugural Adaptability Award, that recognises an agency that has adapted successfully to 2020’s new paradigm by embracing flexibility, manoeuvrability and has risen above the panic and disruption of an unusual year.

The agency was also named Specialist Agency of the Year and took home the Transformation and African Impact Awards - categories the agency also won in 2019.

FM AdFocus Awards 2020/21 chairperson, Tumi Rabanye, says in the Specialist Category, Triple Eight stood out for its leadership in the areas of purpose and development. “In the Transformation Award, the agency demonstrated that transformation is a lived experience, which transcends race and CSI.”

Rabanye adds that this was especially compelling given that the Transformation Award elicited robust discussion by the jury. “The industry needs to urgently move past the BEE scorecard and live transformation where critical business decisions are made,” expands Rabanye.

Triple Eight’s entry stood out head and shoulders in the African Impact category, demonstrating both their purpose and the extent to which they are developmentally-led on the continent. “There is no question that their time has come,” says Rabanye.

Student Award

All three finalists were strong contenders for this award and good examples of the resilience displayed by the class of 2020. The winner Dominic Hobbs, of the University of Johannesburg (UJ), presented an incredible portfolio. The student jury called his approach to media, and the ease with which he mixed medias and disciplines, “extremely exciting”.

Lifetime Achievement Award

This year’s Lifetime Achiever and Industry Leader Awards were both unanimous decisions by the jury.

Lifetime Achiever, Bernice Samuels, currently MTN CMO, boasts a career that spans large multinationals within the telecoms, broadcasting, information technology, financial services and brewing sectors and iconic and impactful campaigns. “Bernice is an individual for whom every jury member has the utmost respect and admiration,” states the jury.

Industry Leader

AdFocus Industry Leader 2020, Peter Khoury, CCO of TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris, is described by the jury as a man without airs and graces. "He is universally admired in the industry and as such, a worthy recipient of the title Industry Leader of the Year”.


2020 Shapeshifter, Melusi Mlu Mhlungu, based in Miami, is remarkable for his bravery. While he could have settled for success locally, he has had the courage to move to new shores where he is continuing to create superb work. “The industry should be proud of him given the inspiration that he provides,” says the jury.

Financial Mail would like to thank this year’s sponsors: the IAS, Scopen, The Mediashop and Ornico.

AdFocus Awards 2020 winners:

Agency of the Year

Triple Eight

Small Agency of the Year


Medium Agency of the Year


Large Agency of the Year

Joe Public (Pty) Ltd

Pr Agency of the Year

Eclipse Communications

Specialised Agency of the Year

Triple Eight

IAS Partnership of the Year

M&C Saatchi Abel and Takealot

Transformation Award

Triple Eight

African Impact Award

Triple Eight

Adaptability Award

Triple Eight

Network Media Agency

The Mediashop

Student Award

Dominic Hobbs - University of Johannesburg (UJ)

Lifetime Achiever

Bernice Samuels

Industry Leader

Peter Gabriel Khoury


Melusi Mlu Mhlungu

FM Creative Challenge Award

Also announced on the evening was the winner of the FM Creative Challenge. This year the Award went to King James for their ad ‘Black lives don’t matter’ for Blackboard Organisation. King James and The Brave Group were finalists for their client ads for Durex and Rose’s Cordial ‘SBWL Hawaii’ respectively. The Creative Challenge features run-of-paper adverts that publish in the Financial Mail during September and October.
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