BBDO has bought out Gitam of Israel with this purchase. Another 45% of the South African agency is held by Moribo Investments, a vehicle for black investors, and 10% by local management.
The move is seen as strategically important ahead of Gitam's pitch next week for the $5 million South African Airways account, for which eight agencies are gunning. Other contenders for the business are TBWA Hunt Lascaris, Saatchi & Saatchi, Lindsay Smithers-FCB, incumbent Sonnenberg Murphy Leo Burnett, Herdbuoys McCann International, BLGK (a Bates-owned agency) and The Agency, a non-aligned local shop.
Gitam opened in South Africa five years ago under an Israeli immigrant, Yossi Schwartz, and by last year, grossed-up billings had grown to $19 million. Several new account gains during 1997 have boosted the business by up to 40%.
BBDO already has a stake in another South African agency, Berry Bush BBDO of Cape Town.
Copyright November 1997, Crain Communications Inc.