Updated: Sep 18, 2018

The Marklives #AgencyLeaders annual survey has named Riverbed ‘The Agency to Watch’ in Johannesburg for the second consecutive year. Furthermore, its CEO and founder, Monalisa Zwambila was recognised as the runner-up to the ‘Agency Leader to Watch’ in 2018 – another remarkable accolade for the entrepreneur who was also just awarded the Business Achiever for Gauteng late last year.

Having already established Riverbed as the largest and leading black female owned, independent, full service creative agency, Zwambila’s renewed ambition is driven by the desire to now become the greatest, independent, creative agency in Africa. She’s committed to catapulting Riverbed from this year’s ‘agency to watch’, to next year’s ‘agency trailblazer’.

Riverbed boasts a decade of experience in building great brands, and Zwambila has always been clear about where the agency started and where it’s headed. Positioning creativity as the agency’s ‘North Star’ is certain to advance Zwambila’s aspirations and propel the business forward.

The tone has already been set and the team has shot out of the starting blocks this year with some significant new appointments, new account gains, as well as some ‘sit up and take notice’ creative campaigns in development.

“Creative excellence has always been a strategic pillar for our business, but this year it will be our principal purpose, and all efforts will be strategically aligned to thrust us ahead to join the ranks of the top creative agencies,” explained Zwambila.

Riverbed’s restructuring aims to break down departmental silos to ensure optimum integration, and serve the renewed strategic agency goals. The combination of its enhanced digital capability, newly appointed head of operations who will ensure elevated service delivery, plus the new business wins that unlock potential for award-winning creative executions, affords Riverbed a significant competitive advantage.

On the back of outstanding business growth during 2017, Riverbed moved into a new league of mid-sized agencies. It grew its blue-chip client stable last year with brands such as IDC, Standard Chartered, Bankmed and the recently relaunched And more recently, Bridgestone, 3M, Unilever and PayBay, a division of Liquid Telecom joined the through-the-line agency.

When asked what Zwambila believes makes both her and her agency the ‘ones to watch’, she expressed a few possible considerations;

“Brand Purpose is a key factor. Our agency exists to serve the greater good, and it is the standard against which we have measured ourselves and our work over the past decade. We believe that great ideas can change the world, and we partner with brands where we believe we can make a difference.”

“Our independence affords us the ‘freedom’ that positively impacts on creative thinking, and therefore client work. We pride ourselves on being resilient yet agile, committed and innovative. We’re accountable to no one except our clients and our own ideas.”

“We are a diverse agency that truly understands the South African market, with an insight that few other agencies can compete with.”

On being nominated by industry colleagues for both categories in Herman Manson’s poll, Zwambila concluded, “It’s wonderful to be in the spotlight as the most admired, and/or the most transformed agency and agency leader, but it has to be said that this is only as a result of team effort. We have all bought into the vision of doing great things and are determined to make an indelible mark. Throughout 2018, we hope not to disappoint…watch this space!”

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