The World's Leading Independent Agencies: The Jupiter Drawing Room

The Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town is determined to maintain its award-winning approach.

At Jupiter Cape Town, we pride ourselves on our ability to build brands and get results. Our recipe for success is simple: we get our clients noticed ... We make the unfamiliar familiar and the familiar unfamiliar," reads an excerpt from The Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town company philosophy.

The Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town, one of South Africa's largest independent advertising agencies opened its doors in 1994. Founded by Kevan Aspoas and Ross Chowles, The Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town now employs almost 150 people, making it one of the largest independent agencies on the African continent.

All of The Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town's shares are in the hands of South African shareholders, making it truly independent. One of the pros of being an independent agency is that one is not responsible to a head office in the same way as networked agencies are, meaning there is more freedom with funding. This means you are able to spend more money on being able to send staff to international awards such as Cannes, where the international exposure gained is invaluable.

More clients are starting to see that the global "one size fits all" approach to advertising has run its course. As the world is shifting from US dominance to a more even distribution of power to Europe and Asia, the need for the US agency networks are falling away.

Networked agencies seem to be largely money driven, where the energy is about meeting "shareholder needs" and not the energy you get when a group of talented individuals build their own agency. Most people who bust a gut to build a viable agency succumb to the "sell out" route as they reap the rewards financially and retire. However, if they don't sell out, they may leave a legacy of what they built as many global network agencies have done. To leave a legacy agency requires twice as much work and not as much money. Also to build a new network now is very difficult but not impossible (you may need a global client) but the easy route is to sell.

Modern methods of communications also mean any agency can do business with any other agency in the world. Affiliations and joint ventures are easy to set up and the client can choose the most appropriate agency for their needs.

As an independent, The Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town has had to grow its company without the assistance of internationally referred business or the benefits of an international support structure that are enjoyed by most networked agencies. This challenge has encouraged an entrepreneurial spirit, which has helped the business to thrive. Thus far, no other South African independent agency has reached the same size, which gives a sense they are leading the way for others to follow in their footsteps.

Over the past 13 years, Aspoas, in his role as managing director, along with the creative guru, Chowles, and design whiz Joanne Thomas, has steered the agency to new levels of advertising brilliance. Jupiter prides itself on working as a cohesive unit. There is much teamwork that goes into creating a brand campaign that is effective for a sustained period of time. Each department plays its part in creating an effective, and successful communication that both builds a brand, and affects the bottom line.

This through-the-line communications agency boasts an international and local client list, including Hyundai, South Africa's foremost retail brand, Woolworths, as well as the country's leading life insurance company, Sanlam. These are just a few of the brands that have been twisted and tweaked in the creative workshop.

A recent extension to The Jupiter Drawing Room brand is Mogul, an intellectual property development company, which is a new and exciting concept to the South African market. The idea behind Mogul is to develop new product ideas, both independently as well as for existing Jupiter clients. To sum it up, Mogul, does everything that comes before advertising.

Realising the need to expand to include South Africa's major business hub, Jupiter Cape Town opened Black River FC, a small, independent agency in Johannesburg in 2005. The agency scooped the New Agency of the Year Award in 2005 and can already add Virgin Money and Tata Motor Vehicles to its international clients.

The Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town is not only one of the largest independent agencies on the African continent, but is also one of the most awarded as well. Over the years, Jupiter has received a multitude of international awards as well as a being a major player on the local South African awards front. The agency participates in all the major international and local advertising festivals and directors and staff members are frequently invited to sit on judging panels.

Since 2004, Jupiter Cape Town has consistently picked up Agency of the Year honours, as well as being awarded double gold at the APEX Awards for Marketing Effectiveness in 2006. Jupiter continues to grow into the most successful agency in South Africa - proven by its recent record scoop of awards at the South African Loeries, held in July this year. Jupiter Cape Town was one of the most awarded agencies, winning a prestigious Grand Prix at the event.

2007 has been has been an exceptionally good year for Jupiter Cape Town and it can add several international accolades to its mantelpiece. The agency's winning streak kicked off with the Clio Awards, where it scooped a silver. This display was followed by an acceptance into the Annual for the D&AD Awards as well as winning both gold and silver at One Show and a gold Media Lion at Cannes.

The Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town is not resting on its laurels and is determined to continue to "push the envelope" when it comes to creative work, as well as maintaining its position as one of Africa's largest and most awarded independent agencies.

Kevan Aspoas is the managing director of The Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town.


Name: The Jupiter Drawing Room (Cape Town)

Founded: 1994

Principals: Kevan Aspoas (managing director), Ross Chowles (executive creative director), Joanne Thomas (creative director - design)

Staff: The Jupiter Drawing Room (Cape Town) currently employs 150 people

Location: Black River Park, Observatory, Cape Town

What is the future for independent agencies? Never before in the history of advertising has the time been more right for independent agencies. If you're smart and want to go it alone, now is the ideal time.

How will you be part of it? We'll be a part of this golden future for independents if we resist the temptation to sell out to a network, and it's a tough thing to be able to resist money. To leave a legacy agency requires twice as much work and not as much money.