Joe Public was established in Cape Town in 1998 by Gareth Leck and Pepe Marais. They opened the agency’s doors to the public with something completely new, Take-Away Advertising. This revolutionary model allowed hungry clients to order an ad off a menu with a price list, making Joe Public a transparent and unique ‘creative diner’, serving up some of the hottest ideas in SA.

From top (left to right): Owen Muabane (Chairman), Pepe Marais (Group Integrated Chief Creative Officer), Zanele Xaba (Head of Transformation), Laurent Marty (Group Strategic Director), Xolisa Dyeshana (Chief Creative Officer), Mpume Ngobese (Co-Managing Director), Neil Van Der Weele (Strategic Advisor). From bottom (left to right): Thato Tsotsetsi (Head of Finance and Risk), Khuthala Gala Holten (Co-Managing Director), Gareth Leck (Group Chief Executive Officer).

In its first year of business, Joe Public won the Financial Mail’s Emerging Agency Award and soon after was nominated as one of South Africa’s most promising companies to watch.

With an ambition to strive for greatness, the agency has evolved in the last two decades to become Joe Public United (JPU), the largest black-owned independent Integrated Brand and Communications Group in South Africa. JPU is made up of key specialist divisions, complimenting the groups above-the-line and strategic expertise to provide clients with tailored integrated services from digital, PR and design to media and below-the-line.

The group spans seven African countries, as well as Joe Public Take-Away Advertising in Amsterdam. In 2020 and 2021, JPU Cape Town and JPU Durban opened, providing further testament to JPU’s dedication to its purpose of exponential growth.

As a Level 1 B-BBEE contributor, JPU is known for its ongoing commitment to transformation with a philosophy grounded in the belief that growth is a virtuous cycle. “We believe that the growth of our people is linked to the growth of our creative product, which impacts the growth of our clients, and which ultimately contributes to the growth of our country”, explains Mpume Ngobese, JPU Co-Managing Director. It is equally committed to the growth of female leaders, with all specialist divisions being led by women.

When it comes to unlocking the growth of the country, JPU believes education is critical. The group is driving change by focussing on South Africa’s education system through its registered NPO, One School at a Time. “Education is what will make all the difference to South Africa’s future”, says JPU’s Group Chief Creative Officer, Pepe Marias. JPU has produced an array of stand-out, highly talkable campaigns over the years, thanks to strong partnerships with brands that share the same values as they do, as well as a dedication to drive client business growth. Its clients include AB InBev, Cell C, Chicken Licken, Clover, Nedbank and Uber, to name a few.

When it comes to creative and business recognition through awards, the group sees this as a by-product of delivering on its growth purpose, and the accolades speak for themselves. JPU has been awarded Loeries Agency of the Year for three consecutive years (2018 – 2020) and won numerous global awards, including Large Agency of the Year at the FM AdFocus awards in 2020.

With the 2021 creative year in full swing, we can’t wait to see what’s next for one of South Africa’s advertising gems. If you are looking to grow your brand or business with Joe Public United, get in touch on+27 (0)10 591 7770 or visit for more.

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