JOHANNESBURG — Keri-Ann Stanton has left Engage Joe Public for a newly-created role as head of PR at Avatar360, the fast-growing agency group owned by South Africa's M&N Brands.

Stanton, who also serves as communications director for the M&N Brands holding group, departs after founding Joe Public's PR division four years ago. Since then, Engage Joe Public has grown into an award-winning firm that was shortlisted for African Agency of the Year honours.

At Avatar360, Stanton will effectively be charged with repeating that trick, launching Avatar PR to complement Avatar's existing stable of clients, which includes Brand SA, Sanral, SAA, King Pie and Fox.

"We’ve come full circle as we have worked together in the past, and now the timing is finally right," says M&N Brands group CEO Zibusiso Mkhwanazi, to whom Stanton reports. "Keri-Ann has a very innovative approach to PR and comms, and she has already jolted us into action around some clever thinking for the group as we grow, and for M&N Brands as we continue our acquisition drive, as well as the immediate impact on a PR offering within the group."

Previously known as Avatar Investment Holdings, M&N Brands is 100% owned by Mkhwanazi and Veli Ngubane, who are aiming to take on the Western holding groups as demand for marketing services rises across Africa. M&N Brands also owns a minority stake in M&C Saatchi’s South African agency network.

"I love what Zibu and Veli have created, and are creating, and simply want to be part of the story that can truly transform the industry and the playing field," added Stanton. "It is a full circle moment for the three of us."