Jupiter and its African dream

It’s a year since The Jupiter Drawing Room joined the scramble for partners in Africa, and in that time its first foreign agency has built fee and commission income to R30m, making it the largest ad agency group in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe? “Fortune favours the brave,” responds a jaunty Graham Warsop, Jupiter group chairman. “We are backing the man, Denford Magora (pictured), and the outstanding people he has gathered around him. We have great confidence in what he’s trying to do. He’s committed to good work and deserves to be supported.”

Jupiter has ambitious plans for continental expansion. “We understand the potential of Africa, its cultures and mindsets,” says Magora. “We could, together with such a partner, establish the most prominent, creative and successful African agency network.”

In a complex shareholding structure, The Jupiter Drawing Room (Harare) is a sister agency of Magora’s agency, Jericho, in the Jupiter Zimbabwe group. As group CEO, Magora holds a majority stake in the agency and a minority stake in the licensing/holding company, The Jupiter Drawing Room (Zimbabwe) and Partners.

The prospects have been illustrated dramatically by its growth and creative success (among the biggest winner at the recent Zimbabwe advertising awards. Clients include Old Mutual Zimbabwe, Zimplats, Toyota, Nando’s, Schweppes, CBZ Bank, Delta Beverages (SABMiller Zimbabwe), Western Union and South African Airways.

Magora says he found Jupiter an attractive partner because of its creative reputation and local experience. “Americans and Europeans see Africa as one country, and they come in with one solution.

“We didn’t want to affiliate ourselves with a faceless global conglomerate that looks at Africa s a third or fourth-tier market appended to their Europe and Middle East region. We are focused on Africa, born here and determined to grow up here before tackling Europe, the Middle East and Mars. We aim to marry the creative excellence inspired by international standards with unique, deep insights into the local market.”

Warsop concurs: “Successful expansion depends on partnering talented and ambitious local partners in each market, with a shared vision for greatness,” he says.

On the cards is another Zimbabwe office, and then rolling the model out into other southern and east African countries next year.

“Financial prudence is key,” says Magora. “We have grown without borrowing a single cent. Everything we make is currently being ploughed back into building a solid infrastructure with world class systems.”

Tony Koenderman comments: It’s a high-risk strategy, but the stakes are commensurately high. Whether Jupiter ends up as a flag-bearer of an economic revival, or another failed investment in a strife-ridden country, depends on how well the Zimbabwe government manages the return to normality in the next few years.

If only because it’s moving off such a low base, the growth potential is probably greater than in any other African country.  One thing Mugabe did right in his early years in power was to raise the standard of education, and today there are thousands of well-educated Zimbabweans all over the continent. People with degrees, working as waiters and petrol pump jockeys, are eager to return the moment they see signs of a return to normality.

Many will find it impossible to forgive the Mugabe government for the injustices perpetrated on the Zimbabwean people but if foreign investors get what they need, political stability, many will overlook past offences.

This story originally appeared in Finweek. To subscribe to Finweek in either English or Afrikaans please click here or visit Zinio.com


  1. Hi Clinton

    It is always nice to engage in some feedback with readers and it is certainly encouraging to see support for African solutions for businesses in South Africa, Zimbabwe etc.

    I battle to see the point where Tony makes any racial or negative comments. He comments it is a high-risk strategy (as execs at SA’s platinum and sugar heavyweights will attest in their dealings with Zimbabwe).

    With regards to AdFocus – that would be a Financial Mail / FM product not a Finweek product. I’m sorry you had a poor experience and I would suggest you give them feedback on it? I can probably assist you with a contact if you are battling.

    Marc Ashton
    Editor – Finweek

    • Hi Marc

      lol yet another reason why you guys need to get Finweek stocked up here! I’m starting to confuse you with BDFM; not a good sign man! Well in my defence you both ran this story within the same period…Yes Zim is not for the faint hearted but l’m sure just about everyone knows this. l feel Tony’s comment is amazingly cynical in this regard as he fails to appreciate the fact that the venture is already in the black. Furthermore he fails to dedicate any space to how the Zim operation will play a part in further ESA expansion (Malawi, Zambia, Angola, Tanzania and Mozambique). All that seemed to matter to him was political confetti.

      TJDR SA own 30% of TJDR & Partners (Zim), the indigenisation policy is a 51% local ownership threshold and varies depending on sector. In all possible cases the “high risk strategy” is compliant with national laws…The noise on Zim and politics can get amazingly loud, we get the feeling some SA folk want change more than we do…

  2. Tony Koenderman had to mess it up with a politically riddled comment! I’m a Zimbabwean and have been reading the Financial Mail since l was 17. In this light, Tony’s comment is disgustingly cynical and l don’t think it can be matched. In its first year of establishment, Jericho left no stone unturned in setting a new benchmark for local advertising (I don’t know what those guys smoke but l’d love some too). They grabbed accounts that many believed were impenetrable. They brought life to the creative scene with “non SA class stuff” but a localised and relevant approach. The TJDR tie up was merely a cherry on top of the cake. But all this doesn’t matter to one Mr K, he’d rather type away about politics (with the obvious dosage of racial undertones).

    Africa is not for the faint hearted bru, it’s tough but a way to growth and development must be found. Jericho will spearhead TJDR’s move into other “African markets”. There are few other teams l’d trust to build brands in Africa, you’ll smell the coffee soon… As an aside; in all my years of looking forward to Ad Focus, this year’s one was kak. Too much hype and little hard core insights, l expect better from you guys. There is no point in quoting the same stats as Forbes, The Financial Times, The Economist etc use…A positive highlight though was the recommendation for SA agencies not to go in with arrogance but to work in sync with locals. There are great opportunities for those that go in with the right mindset.

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