2024 Marketer of the Year Finalists: Dr Melanie Van Rooy, Head of Marketing at Clicks Retailers; Arné Rust, Brand Director of Carling Black Label, Hansa and Lion Lager, Africa at SAB (AB InBev); Doug Place, Chief Marketing Officer at Nando’s Africa, Middle East and South Asia; Grant Macpherson, Chief Marketing Officer at KFC Africa

The Marketing Achievement Awards’ (MAA) selection committee for the Marketer of the Year Award has revealed the top four finalists in this hotly contested award category. This award recognises the best marketer in South Africa who exemplifies the art and science of marketing; has the business, brand and category interest at heart; and has leveraged their skills to grow all three of these areas.

In no particular order, the finalists are Dr Melanie Van Rooy, Head of Marketing at Clicks Retailers; Arné Rust, Brand Director of Carling Black Label, Hansa and Lion Lager, Africa at SAB (AB InBev); Doug Place, Chief Marketing Officer at Nando’s Africa, Middle East, South Asia; and Grant Macpherson, Chief Marketing Officer at KFC Africa.

This year, entrants had to demonstrate outstanding leadership in all areas of business and brand growth; modern marketing; internal culture; and sustainable transformation over the past 24 months.

Themba Nobanda, CEO of Brand Spear and Chairperson of the Marketer of the Year selection committee, says each entrant was interrogated against these principles to identify SA’s stand-out marketers.

“We sought out leaders who not only displayed great mastery of strategic marketing but also possessed the unique ability to translate marketing objectives into actionable strategies that drove profitability and sustainable growth. We also looked for evidence of personal accountability and a continuous quest for growth, even when it meant stepping outside one’s comfort zone. Exceptional marketers are those who embrace change and drive the true innovation that often lies beyond the boundaries of conventional thinking to ensure that every facet of the brand, business and its stakeholders benefit,’ he says.

He adds that the Marketer of the Year Award ultimately recognises a marketer in the industry who has impacted more than the business they manage, and used their influence to drive the industry forward.

Joining Nobanda on the committee were Ivan Moroke, CEO of Kantar South Africa; Gugu Mthembu, Chief Marketing Officer at Telkom; Thandeka Ngqumeya, Marketing Director of Danone Southern Africa; Simon Camerer, Principal at BrandSpring Advisory; and David Wingfield, Consultant at large.

These jurors adopted a stringent process in identifying the country’s top marketers. They interrogated the nominees through critical analyses of their written submissions as well as via online interviews conducted with the nominees themselves and their colleagues.  All judging panel members are highly experienced marketers in their own right and were only selected once all entries had been received to ensure no conflicts of interest.

The MAAs again continue its strategic and collaborative alliance with the Marketing Association of South Africa (MASA), which endorses the awards.

Brian Yuyi, CEO of MASA, says this endorsement speaks to MASA’s objective of continuously striving for the elevation of professionalism in the marketing industry.

“The MAAs provide both peer recognition of the industry’s best work as well as a learning opportunity for everyone as to what works, what doesn’t and how to pivot enhanced results in future. This reflects MASA’s purpose of elevating marketing’s professionalism to positively impact business results through powerful business strategies, underpinned by sound insights, which put marketers at the interface between business and consumers. MASA looks forward to a continued relationship with the MAAs, bringing together the very best of South Africa’s marketing industry,” he explains.

This year’s finalists for the 2023/4 Marketer of the Year award represent the best in the industry:

Dr Melanie Van Rooy, Head of Marketing at Clicks Retailers

Melanie van Rooy is an accomplished marketing and strategy executive renowned for her unique blend of creativity and analytical prowess. With more than 22 years’ experience in FMCG and retail, coupled with 35 years of expertise in analytics, she has consistently demonstrated her ability to infuse innovative thinking and creativity with data-driven insights to propel business success.

Fusing her background in Econometrics, Strategy and Marketing, Mel possesses a rare talent for deciphering the intricate nuances of consumer data and behaviour and translating them into actionable strategies. Noteworthy among her achievements are the instrumental roles she played in shaping consumer and business strategies at ABI (Coca-Cola), Makro and Dis-Chem, solidifying their positions as industry giants.

Currently the Head of Marketing at Clicks Group, Mel’s passion for innovation is palpable in her leadership style. She seamlessly integrates her flair for creativity with a strong analytics sense to drive impactful campaigns and cultivate enduring customer connections.

Arné Rust, Brand Director of Carling Black Label, Hansa and Lion Lager, Africa at SAB (AB InBev)

Arné brings more than 20 years of experience in commercial functions and consulting to his role as Brand Director at SAB. An engineering and business school graduate with exposure in multiple industries, he describes himself as “a marketer trapped in an engineer’s body”.

With wide-ranging experience in strategy, consulting, trade marketing, finance and marketing in Africa, Arné is well-versed in managing diverse teams, developing strategies and allocating resources to deliver creative solutions to commercial objectives. He’s passionate about making a positive difference in the business as well as the communities in which SAB operates.

Arné believes there’s no trade-off between analytics and creativity, or between commercial performance and social good. The real marketing magic happens when all those elements align.

Doug Place, Chief Marketing Officer at Nando’s Africa, Middle East and South Asia 

Doug has held the position of Nando’s Chief Marketing Officer since 2015 and is responsible for all components of the marketing function in more than 13 countries.

Last year Nando’s was voted The Most Admired Brand to Work On in the media and advertising industry ahead of super brands like Apple and Nike – a position Nando’s has held since 2017.

Doug has received more than 100 marketing and advertising awards, including The Most Admired Marketing Professional in South Africa in the Scopen report in 2019 (runner up in 2021 and a top 5 finisher in 2023), multiple Grand Prix’ and the recipient of the Marketing & Innovation Award at the Loeries (2018).

He is a Wits graduate and holds a B.Com Honours Degree (cum laude) in Marketing and an undergraduate B. Com degree (cum laude) in Marketing & Finance. He is a registered Chartered Marketer (CMSA), sits on the MASA Board as Chairman, and recently completed the Advanced Management Program (AMP) at Harvard Business School in 2023.

Grant Macpherson, Chief Marketing Officer at KFC Africa

The South African-born marketer joined KFC as UK Marketing Manager in 2013 and two years later, KFC Netherlands, leading the marketing function across the Netherlands, Iceland and Sweden.

Grant returned to South Africa in 2018 and has been at the forefront of driving branded retail for KFC and a key architect in KFC’s growth. In 2022 he was promoted to Marketing Director, Brand Communication and Purpose, where he led the brand’s focus on taste, resulting in the award-winning Taste Guarantee and Taste Inspector campaigns.

In 2022 Grant was appointed KFC Chief Marketing Officer: Africa. During this time, KFC South Africa’s leadership position has gone from strength to strength. Grant and his team have been awarded more than 58 local and international awards, including Cannes, D&AD, One Show, Effie’s, a Grand Effie, Loeries and Grand Prix awards.

The team has been recognised as Marketing Team of the Year by KFC Global; Brand of the Year by Marklives.com; and the #2 Loeries Brand of the Year, while Grant has been recognised as the Loeries and Marklives.com top 3 marketers of the year.

Previous recipients of the prestigious MAA Marketer of the Year Award include Francois Viviers, Group Executive of Capitec Bank, Marketing and CX; Bernice Samuels, MTN Group Executive: Marketing; and Firoze Bhorat, Chief Marketing Officer at Discovery Limited.

As the current title holder of this award, Firoze Bhorat describes this recognition as a humbling and valued acknowledgement of his 22-year career working across phenomenal brands.

Firoze Bhorat, 2023 Marketer of the Year

“It was an immense honour to be recognised by the industry as the Marketer of the Year. Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of working on the most phenomenal brands that allowed me the latitude to conceptualise new ideas at scale with the confidence to realise and implement these ideas,” he says.  Firoze credits these experiences for his continuous learning in the fields of business, marketing and leadership.

“I have also been fortunate to have been led by the most inspiring leaders who have afforded me opportunities to learn and grow. Now I find myself in the most exciting position of leading a brand like Discovery; with the platform and opportunity to do meaningful work that has a positive impact on the lives of our clients and on society as a whole. I hope to inspire more people in the marketing profession to strive for excellence and to drive the awareness of the power of marketing to make meaningful contributions to business and to society,” Firoze concludes, thanking the MAA and its endorsing partner, MASA, for promoting world-class standards in the marketing profession.

Firoze was named SA’s top marketer for his clear understanding and demonstration of the strategic link between marketing and business results. As an Exco member at Discovery Limited, he does the marketing profession justice by creating shared value, promoting diversity, and building brand and culture, while showing excellent business results.

The Marketer of the Year Award winner will be announced on 26 March 2024 at the MAA Gala Awards and networking cocktail event to be held in Johannesburg.

For further information, visit the MAA website for details on how to book tickets, please see the home page of this website, or email event(at)marketingawards(dot)co(dot)za

Thank you to our partners who make these awards possible.

Marketing Association of South Africa
Reveel Outdoor
Unilever
Old Mutual
African Bank
Fresh Advertising and Marketing
Telkom
GIBS
The Forum - Alice Lane, Sandton