Sithembile Ntombela, GM of marketing at Brand SA. Picture: SUPPLIED
Sithembile Ntombela, GM of marketing at Brand SA. Picture: SUPPLIED

Entries are now open for the Loeries Brand SA Young Creatives Award, which includes a $5,000 prize as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to Loeries Creative Week in August. 

With the launch of the Loeries “Tell Better Stories” campaign, we spoke to Loeries Young Creatives partner Sithembile Ntombela, GM of marketing at Brand South Africa and a woman who wakes up every morning to tell and showcase better SA stories. 

Why is the Young Creatives Award important to Brand SA? 

Brand SA’s mandate is to manage and nurture the reputation of our incredible country. We believe that there is no-one better to represent what we stand for than the incredible emerging talent we discover through the Loeries Young Creatives Award.  

A couple of years ago we changed Brand SA’s proposition from “Alive With Possibility” to “Inspiring New Ways”. As a country, we have moved forward from unlocking possibility and potential to crafting a new path for the world. Our make-it-happen attitude and culture has enabled us to share our incredible talent, rainbow-nation spirit and unique way of thinking with the world. Who better to tell this new story than the talented and innovative people we find through this initiative? 

How do you share their stories with the world? 

Our job is to actively work with creatives across different industries to share the stories of these talented individuals with the world. A great example is our Making It Uniquely South Africa series where we profile incredible people in the creative space on the BBC in the UK. We’ve shared the stories of ceramicist Andile Dyalvane; interior designer Mpho Vackier; sculptor, professor, poet and writer Pitika Ntuli; and interior and product designer Thabiso Mjo, among others. We’re inspired every day to share these exciting and remarkable creative talent with the world through our partnership with the Loeries.

How important are brands in telling a country’s story? 

Massively. The “country of origin” concept is such an integral part of enhancing a country’s brand reputation. Just as quality chocolate and watches make us think of Switzerland, our unique local wines and rooibos strengthen our country’s reputation.  

And already there are many brands tapping into South Africanism with their adverts — owning, celebrating and exporting our uniquely SA story. Nando’s is exporting incredible local food, art, design and humour; Santam and Outsurance are celebrating national pride and patriotism; and Black Label is dealing with core societal issues through its #NoExcuses campaign. 

How connected is SA to the broader story across Africa and the Middle East? 

In reality we are siblings. We complement each other. We need to break the mentality that we compete with one another. We need to present a holistic Africa proposition to the world. There are so many ties that bind us — art, music, sports, film and a shared history. In Senegal they dance to Miriam Makeba — we are all driven by the same beat. 

What advice do you have for countries in our region when telling their own stories? 

Stay true to your identity, ethos and philosophy. Identify what really fuels your country — own it and share it with the world. 

What is unique about the SA story? 

South Africans inspire the world in new and different ways. As the children of Mandela, we have the power to promote democracy, diversity and the spirit of ubuntu around the world. It’s an incredible opportunity. We know how to be resourceful. We know how to use our rich and layered cultural heritage in an interesting, contemporary and relevant way. We’re constantly telling the world a new story, and from our experience it is a story the world is hungry to hear. At its core is creativity and resilience.  

We confront the uncomfortable. Even in our saddest moments, our spirit unites us and we get things done. That’s why we are the only African country in the G20 and Brics. We own our history. We are brave enough to fight prejudice and stereotypes. Our civil society has redefined the political landscape, showing the vibrancy of the country’s constitution. Have you seen how united we become in supporting injustices against our very own winner Caster Semenya and everything she stands for?

That is SA’s better story. It’s not just limited to mining or agriculture. It is anchored in our people, one of our greatest assets.

What is your ultimate goal for the Loeries and Brand SA partnership? 

Our goals are long term. We aim to identify, nurture and develop global platforms for young South Africans. Together we will build a legacy for our country — through the people who are shaping it every day in unique and inspiring ways. 

Anyone 27 or younger from Africa and the Middle East can enter the Young Creatives, and the entry deadline for Loeries 2019 is May 15. More information can be found at loeries.com