Why Aktivate PR, part of Homeboyz Entertainment, may not participate in any awards shows in 2018


There is a possibility that Aktivate PR, a subsidiary of Homeboyz Entertainment which provides media relations and experiential marketing services to clients, may not take in any PR industry shows or awards next year.

This is because Publicis Groupe, which Homeboyz signed a deal with in 2016, recently forbade all of its agencies around and affiliates globally from participating in awards shows, trade shows or other paid promotional efforts for more than a year.

(TOP: A screenshot of Aktivate’s homepage showing this year’s Connected Summit organised by the ICT Authority, one of Aktivate‘s clients).

Aktivate currently handles internet security firm ESET and ICT Authority among other clients.

In June last year, Homeboyz partnered with Publicis Groupe in order to enable it transform into an integrated marketing and communications agency and offer an expanded array of services including PR, digital communication and media buying among others. The deal was also mean to enable Homeboyz tap into Publicis Groupe’s global footprint, knowledge base and best practices.

“We are not only scaling up our operations; this symbiotic partnership offers Homeboyz an opportunity to be the agency that will trigger a paradigm shift in the delivery of integrated marketing and communication services in the region,” said Myke Rabar, the Homeboyz Entertainment CEO in statement announcing the deal.

The Publicis Groupe comprises of Saatchi & Saatchi, Publicis Worldwide, Leo Burnett, Arc, Starcom, MediaVest, Zenith, Optimedia and DigitasLBi, and serves a wide range of clients.

In Africa, the Publicis Group has 52 partner agencies and equity stakes in 20 of the agencies outside of South Africa coupled with majority ownership in a further 11 agencies in South Africa.

“Our choice of Homeboyz as a partner is because we see great opportunity in holistic, multi-disciplinary activities to build brands in Africa. The Homeboyz team bring a strong entrepreneurial and non-traditional approach to their creative endeavors, which will allow our clients to engage with their customers in a broader and deeper fashion, which goes beyond traditional advertising alone” said Kevin Tromp, the Publics Africa Group CEO while commenting on the deal.

Now, according to an article published last in Adweek, Publicis Groupe’s new CEO Arthur Sadoun forbade “all of its agencies around the world from participating in awards shows, trade shows or other paid promotional efforts for more than a year”.

Adweek quoted an internal memo written by Frank Voris, the CEO of Publicis Groupe’s financial services unit, Re:Sources, in which Sadoun reportedly stated that the company is “looking for 2.5 percent cost synergies for 2018” and hopes to achieve those savings, at least in part, by “eliminating all award/trade shows for the next year.”

The memo, according to Adweek, notes that Re:Sources “will not participate in any vendor conferences, industry trade shows and/or award shows effective July 1.”

“This is mandatory and exceptions will not be approved. … Award/trade show ban is effective for the entire Groupe, not just Re:Sources,” the memo states.

If Sadoun’s ban extends to all Publicis Groupe affiliates, it therefore means that agencies like Aktivate may have to forego both local and international industry awards like the annual PRSK, International Public Relations Association (IPRA) Golden Word Awards and SABRE Awards.

Apart from Aktivate, Homeboyz also operates 6 audio recording studios, 2 TV production facilities, an events management division, a full audio/visual rental and maintenance department, The Music Technology Academy (MTA), Homeboyz Radio, HBtv, a youth empowerment facility dubbed Y-Hub and a rugby club ran by its foundation. Homeboy started off in 1995 as a DJ outfit before branching out into other areas of entertainment.