South African Breweries (SAB) raises a glass to its new Corporate Brand Director Sphe Vundla. Sphe, who already took a sip, is ready to elevate SAB’s corporate brand in a way that not only resonates with this iconic brand’s many stakeholders, but with the nation at large.
“It is an exciting opportunity to be able to integrate cross-functionality at a regional and national level to tell our stories with impact. I want to elevate the SAB brand and work closely with the SAB Foundation to ensure that everyone knows and engages with our programs which are making a difference and serving our communities across the nation,” says Vundla.
As a self-confessed provoker of purpose and passionate communicator, this high-performance leader is looking to brew a particular brand of excellence in everything he pursues. He joined SAB in 2018 after a stint at Nedbank as their Group Digital Manager with the Nedbank Group Marketing Communication and Corporate Affairs division.
From banking to beer, Sphe is ready to continue creating award-winning campaigns and programs that help brands shape culture.
As a marketer, Sphe’s experience across numerous marketing disciplines and industries has given him the power of adaptability. This is at a time when agility has become the corporate world’s most potent superpower.
What makes Sphe perfect for this role? His experience with and love for South African Breweries, of course! Over the last three and a half years, Sphe has been intricately involved in some of SAB’s most iconic beer brands including Castle Lager, Castle Free, Carling Black Label, Lion Lager, and Hansa leading the digital and integrated media functions for these brands.
Just last year he became Marketing Manager of the brand that built SAB in South Africa’s hearts, minds, and sports stadiums – Castle Lager. Here he got to manage incredible sponsorship opportunities at SAFA, CSA, and most recently, SARU through the brand’s sponsorship of the Castle Lions Series.
But this year has brought him to managing the SAB corporate brand which brought with it the challenge of ensuring the organization’s efforts and achievements are communicated and built on through continuous and seamless storytelling.
This is no small task, as it requires close co-operation with multiple players in various parts of the business. The only way this can work is by establishing a strong rhythm and efficient ways of operating, a pattern he has perfected over the years, and, as such, he has become an expert at managing multiple objectives.
The last few years have seen this dynamic industry become more difficult to maintain; the pandemic hit the brewery industry hard with the country introducing new restrictions, including multiple bans on the sale of alcohol. Because of this, as a business, SAB had to embrace agility and scenario planning in a completely unprecedented way.
For Vundla, adopting a discipline of readiness – which at times meant having campaigns ready to plug and play in response to changing socio-economic and political conditions – has become a key part of how the organization operates.
This hasn’t deterred Vundla one iota as he says, “SAB has been my favorite journey in my career thus far. Being afforded the opportunity to leave my mark on some of our continent’s biggest brands has been a great honor. Through my recent promotion as Corporate Brand Director at SAB, I am excited to build an integrated team with a contagious ‘can do’ culture of excellence, develop young talent, and collectively take the SAB brand to new heights. Cheers to that!”