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Criteria for Membership

Definition of an advertising agency: 

  • The applicant agency is required to demonstrate its professional competence as an organisation concerned primarily with providing strategic advice on marketing communication, creating and/or placing advertising.
  • Such services can include, or represent, specialisation in consumer or business-to-business advertising, media placement (including new media/Internet), direct marketing, creative and strategic consultancy, recruitment advertising or other marketing communication services.

Size of agency:

    Size shall not be a factor in determining qualifications for membership.

Age of agency:

    Applicants shall have been in the business for a minimum of two years from the Date of Incorporation. Provisional membership can, however be granted at the discretion of the Board, should an applicant agency meet all the criteria aside from the two years business ruling.

Location of agency:

    Only agencies maintaining offices in the Republic of South Africa shall be considered for membership. International membership may be granted however at the discretion of the ACA Board, provided that the international applicant operating in South Africa also submits proof of membership of an equivalent association in his/her home country.

Ownership, control and bias:

  • No agency shall be eligible if it is controlled or operated by, or on behalf of, one or more advertisers or their nominees. Such control shall include majority shareholding.
  • In the interest of objectivity, where an agency owns an interest in a medium or supplier or where a medium or supplier owns an interest in the agency, it is required that such interest be disclosed to the Association, to the agency's clients, and, in the case of media ownership, to other media as well. Where there is substantial ownership of such interest by one or more officers or employees of the agency, similar disclosure is required.
  • An applicant must disclose all facts necessary to determine its eligibility with respect to ownership, control, and possible bias and must agree that, if elected to membership, it will notify the association promptly of any change that might affect its continued eligibility under these provisions.

Ethical and business standards:

    The applicant agency must demonstrate that it upholds the law and the highest ethical standards and will abide by the ACA Mission, ACA directives, (including the Standards of Practice, Code of Conduct, the ACA Transformation Charter and the measures to implement the Charter), the ACA Memorandum and Articles and the rulings of the Advertising Standards Authority.

Transformation and empowerement:

    A requirement for membership shall be a demonstrable commitment to transformation of, and empowerment within the advertising profession. This commitment will include the acceptance of the principles and philosophy of the ACA Transformation Charter as well as any ACA directives on the implementation of the Charter.


    Advertising ability varies with individual talent and need; it is difficult to standardise, nevertheless, sound judgement regarding the applicant agency's ability can and should be formed by a proper study of:

  • Its staff and facilities
  • Its past service and work produced for clients.

    The applicant agency is required to furnish a representative list of its present clients, indicating the nature of the advertising handled for them, how long it has held each listed account, and a representative list of media with whom it has done business.

Financial responsibility:

    In order to assess the financial stability of the agency:

  • Each applicant shall furnish Audited Financial Statements with their completed application.
  • Each applicant on request shall provide other such evidence of its financial condition as may be required.

Confidentiality of information supplied by prospective member:

    All client and financial information provided by the applicant agency shall only be sighted and evaluated by the ACA Secretariat.
    In the event that the application by an agency for membership is denied (for any reason), all client and financial information shall be returned to that agency.

Method of application/election:

    Each applicant shall be required to complete the standard "Application for Membership". No application shall be referred to the ACA Board for election unless this form, together with the necessary supplementary information, has been received and evaluated by the ACA Secretariat.


An Agency Group:

    For the purposes of membership of the ACA, an Agency Group shall be deemed to consist of a holding company and its subsidiaries, each being constituted as a separate legal entity.

A Holding Company:

    For the purposes of membership of the ACA, a company shall be deemed to be another's holding company if, but only if, that other is its subsidiary.

A Subsidiary Company:

    For the purposes of membership of the ACA, a company shall be deemed to be a subsidiary of another if, but only if:

  • That other company holds more than 26% in nominal value of its equity share capital, or
  • The first-mentioned company is a subsidiary of any company which is that other's subsidiary.

Agency group membership:

    It is recognised that agencies may consist of a number of individual companies within their group structure. In such circumstances:

  • The holding company may elect to be the member, in which case all other subsidiaries will automatically be members of the ACA.
  • Individual companies within the group may elect to apply for separate membership, subject to approval of the holding company.
  • Where a company is not a subsidiary company of an ACA member, it will not qualify for membership in terms of group membership. In such instances, these agencies will be required to apply for individual membership of the ACA.

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