Going for gold with Alistair King and Sydney Mbhele

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Watch and listen to Alistair King, CCO and Founder of the King James Group one-on-one with Sydney Mbhele, Brand Managing Director, Sanlam Group, about their recent campaign which won gold for The Olympian. The campaign was a revolutionary creative solution that made South African gymnast Caitlin Rooskrantz the only athlete the world saw performing her routine in 2020 at the exact time she would have played at the Tokyo Olympics.

Moderated by Rutendo Nyamuda, the discussion touches on topics such as the role of the communications industry and confident brands to be storytellers and economic drivers of greater inclusiveness in the creative and other sectors – it’s about the third in our 6-part discussion series. around the value of diversity and inclusion in the SA advertising industry – made possible by the ACA.


This interview is also available on YouTube and BizTakeouts, via the downloadable app, Apple podcasts, Spotify and IONO.FM.

The role of brands in diversity

“We often talk about determined brands,” said Mbhele. “It’s a very big philosophy and a promise we make to the world: to be a meaningful company. People often look at companies and brands in the context of transactional relationships, but the truth is, especially in financial services, we can all play a huge role in helping people move forward in life.

Rooskrantz’s story was a powerful story to tell, according to Mbhele, and spoke about this role brands can play in supporting diversity. “Inclusiveness isn’t just in the context of financial concepts, it’s also how you inspire ordinary people.”

When you focus on telling these stories, the purpose becomes tangible and not just the words you speak.

“Emotion has always been what separates great advertising from pedestrian advertising,” King said. “This is ultimately what makes brands valuable – when they land with emotional weight.”

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A notable change

As businesses begin to be seen as trustworthy by the people who live and live the lives around them, we may begin to see a shift in responsibility – and therefore, the role of business.

“It’s not just about trying to have a goal, it’s important to have customer insight that you can get through vigorous analysis of what makes them tick on a daily basis,” Mbhele said. “Brands are like people. They have personality.

Confidence is evident when businesses realize that people care about them. “It’s important to present yourself in this way, in the most human way possible,” Mbhele said.

It’s starting to become a brand telling their audience, their customers, to see them – they’re trying to connect with them, not just sell them something.

King said a relevant question to ask is, “How can we change our communication to reflect the world we want?” “. Many agencies are aware of the power they hold in asking this question and applying means of communication that express the importance of living in a world without prejudice.

When does the magic happen?

The best advertising doesn’t necessarily make it seem like you’re always taking risks, according to King. Most of the time, you’re given something unique to work with, and that becomes a way to really connect with the people you’re talking to.

“These aren’t really scary emotions, it’s just the willingness to have that emotion and tie your brand to that emotion,” he said.

Alistair king

Chief Creative Officer of the King James Group. Alistair is the founding creative partner of the 24-year-old King James Group advertising agency network. He is one of a very small group of people to have been inducted into both the SA Creative Circle Hall of Fame (2017) and the Loeries Hall of Fame (2019). In 2008, Alistair was named Financial Mail Adfocus Agency Leader of the Year. MarkLives.com industry survey named him South Africa’s Most Admired Creative Chef, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. He lives in Cape Town.

Sydney Nhlanhla Mbhele

Sydney Mbhele is a Certified Marketer (SA) with a proven track record in building brands and markets. His experience extends to Financial Services (Banks, Insurance and Investments), Fast Consumer Goods (FMCG) and Telecoms. He has worked in marketing, communications, sales and corporate affairs and has led major brands for organizations like Unilever (local in South Africa and global roles in London), SABMiller, Nedbank, Liberty and Cell C Sydney is currently the Chief Executive: Brand of the Sanlam Group (member of the Exco Group) and Chairman and Board Member of the Marketing Association of South Africa. Sydney is also the co-founder and chairman of Mentor A Boy Child (a non-profit organization) which aims to help young boys become better men for society.

In conversation with Rutendo Nyamuda. Founder Tinzwe Media. @ roo10dough | www.tinzwemedia.com

This series of industry-wide discussions on the topic of diversity and inclusiveness in the advertising industry in South Africa is made possible by the Association for Communication and Advertising. ACA is committed to transforming the industry and upholding the principles of the ACA Transformation Charter.

Join ACA at www.acasa.co.za | @ACA_SA | Instagram | ACACelebrating diversity

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