There will be one less South African-owned advertising agency dotting the local landscape following the acquisition of a controlling stake in Quirk by multibillion-dollar global advertising group WPP.

Quirk is the largest independent marketing agency in South Africa.

The purchase of the shares, according to international media that follow WPP closely, was concluded against the backdrop of rising competition from a $35 billion (R367bn) merger between Omnicom and Publicis. They are two of the “big four” global ad agencies. WPP and Interpublic are the other two.

“WPP has been watching Quirk for a while and we feel strongly that now is the right time for us to join forces,” Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP’s chief executive, said on Tuesday. Quirk had demonstrated consistent growth and above-average creativity in South Africa and the UK, he added.

Rob Stokes founded Quirk in 1999 as a digital agency. Today the company provides “through-the-line” marketing services to local and international clients, including Distell, Capitec, Woolworths and Tyco.

Quirk owns five agencies in Africa and London, and the partnership will enable Quirk’s ambitions of a large-scale expansion across Africa.

“Quirk is not a normal agency and the team at WPP realise this,” Stokes said.

It has allowed the company to retain independence in certain areas.

WPP aims to realise between 40 percent and 45 percent of revenue from digital work over the next five years. Its digital revenues, including associates, exceeded $6bn last year and contributed nearly 35 percent to group revenue of $17.3bn.

The conclusion of the Quirk deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Carbon offset

Most hotels have adopted energy-saving strategies such as asking visitors not to put once-used bath towels in the laundry basket in order to save water; others use efficient lighting systems.

However, Hotel Verde of BON hotels is offering its guests a “guilty-free” stay in Cape Town.

The hotel, which claims to be Africa’s greenest, has partnered with impactChoice to offer guests a carbon neutral stay by offsetting their emissions via responsible carbon capturing projects.

The carbon offsetting programme represents a removal of the carbon emissions made elsewhere to compensate for carbon emitted during the guests’ hotel stay. The programme will be offered to guests at no additional cost, taking it straight from the hotel’s bottom line.

It sounds a bit too scientific for a business in the leisure industry, but Hotel Verde makes it sounds easy.

It explains that through impactChoice, the hotel will be able to apportion these emissions to a product or service offered to guests, and mitigate these through the purchase of a certified carbon credit.

All guests will receive an individual carbon-reduction certificate relative to the duration of their stay and the emission footprint associated with their room.

The financial benefits of the carbon credit purchase will be received by the Sofala Community Carbon Project in Mozambique, which works with communities to rehabilitate the forest on their land and to introduce new, sustainable farming practices.

Within the past few days the National Treasury has suggested a new carbon offset scheme, which could allow companies to reduce the total volume of greenhouse gases more cheaply and to reduce their carbon tax liability by up to 10 percent.

This scheme could lead to a new domestic trading market in which companies buy and sell carbon credits.

So if a hotel can do it, surely big metal smelters and industrials can follow suit.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. Contributions by Asha Speckman and Nompumelelo Magwaza.