Upton & Fulton is the first new agency to be formed from top-level advertising breakaways in 35 years. Its debut earlier in the year has also sparked acrimonious debate on how well Zimbabwe's industry is able to accept evolution.
Ostensibly at issue is whether to allow John Upton, previously managing director of Michael Hogg/ Young & Rubicam, and Rick Fulton, ex-creative director of Barker McCormac, to become accredited, a required process before an agency has the right to place its own media.
But it has become a much larger fight. On one side are the advocates of change: Upton & Fulton themselves and a leading industry figure here, Lintas Managing Director Albert Nhau.
Mr. Nhau, who is black, is a keen proponent of change as a means to redress the black/white imbalance in Zimbabwean advertising. He notes that only a third of this country's advertising professionals are black-even a full 15 years after white supremacy theoretically ended. So although both Mssrs. Upton and Fulton are white, they still represent a challenge to the old ways, and have therefore won the support of Mr. Nhau.
On the opposite side of the coin are those seeking to maintain the old order of advertising-without breakaways-and block the new players from becoming accredited.
"The biggest danger to Zimbabwean advertising is that media placement will be transferred to Johannesburg," said Mr. Upton. "Their media, planning and negotiating skills are stronger than ours, and there is a danger more multinational headquarters will move there now."
It is up to the Zimbabwean advertising community, he concluded, to adapt to increasing competition-or die.