Johannesburg - Grey South Africa, the marketing communications firm, has orchestrated a dramatic turnaround in its empowerment strategty earning itself a top Level 5 rating compared to the non-compliance it was deemed to have only 12 months ago.
This means Grey's clients can claim 80% of what they spend with the company as 'preferential procurement' for their rate cards.
Grey CEO, Tim Byrne, described the milestone as having a profound impact on how the firm's success would be benchmarked.
Grey Group is South Africa's eighth biggest marketing communications group, and comprises Grey South Africa, MediaCompete and Dicomm Grey.
According to Bongani Khumalo, Grey chairman and a shareholder, achieving this empowerment status had been an objective since he joined the firm in 2003. The agency was cited for performing well in the BBBEE (broad-based black economic empowerment) criteria of ownership, preferential procurement, enterprise development and socio-economic development.
Some 25.1% of Grey's shares are black-owned. It also invested 3% of its after-tax profit in an educational games manufacturing start-up and the marketing of a 100% black female-owned business.
"We believe an advertising agency, just like any other brand, can be a power for good," said Byrne. Grey also counted 10 pro-bono projects among its socio-economic development initiatives.
Advertising agencies can go beyond merely providing communication to assisting from a commercial or strategic perspective for social investment projects, said Byrne.
The firm worked with clients of cause-related marketing programmes, said Byrne. Human resource development was also a focus with in-house training and workshops, he said.