Boniswa Pezisa, Net#work BBDO’s Group Chief Executive, is this year’s Loeries Hall of Fame inductee. Chicken Licken’s Managing Director and Chief Marketer, Chantal Sombonos-Van Tonder, has won the 2020 Marketing Leadership and Innovation Award.

Pezisa is a lover of life, hats and other accessories, and she has experience in delivering breakthrough communications strategies across a wide range of diverse sectors from retail, automotive, finance and FMCG to telecommunications, hotels and petrochemicals. The Hall of Fame was introduced by the Loeries in 2008 to recognise dedicated individuals who have contributed to the building and elevation of the creative and brand communications industry.

‘Pezisa is well respected as a committed leader and advocate for transformation in the industry. She is also a former chairperson of the both the Loeries and the ACA and commands great love and respect from the industry, which she has served for three decades. We are honoured to be able to add her to the Loeries Hall of Fame,’ said Preetesh Sewraj, CEO of the Loeries.

2020 Loeries Hall of Fame inductee.
Boniswa Pezisa, Net#work BBDO’s Group Chief Executive and 2020 Loeries Hall of Fame inductee.

‘I am relishing and enjoying this moment in my career and am truly honoured that a size four shoe can stand amongst giants like Nunu Ntshingila, Mike Schalit, Robyn Putter, Nathan Reddy and Nkwenkwe Nkomo, further affirming my belief that ‘black child your dreams are valid’,’ said Pezisa.

The mother, business leader, community builder and activist joined the industry back in the late ’80s and already in the early ’90s, even before the dawn of democracy, was involved in projects focused on transforming the industry with the simple focus of inclusion for all.

‘As a black female I was aware from the beginning – even when I did not have the language for it – that I was part of a revolution and carried a huge burden to be a conduit for change, diversity, innovation, inclusion and integration,’ said Pezisa.

She said while she is happy with the inroads made to date, to which she has contributed, she is well aware that transformation is not a destination but a continuous journey and there is still a lot of work to be done, especially in bringing women and the youth to the fore.

‘It’s heart-warming to see the prominent rise of the likes of Neo Mashigo, Xolisa Dyeshana and women like Nombini Mehlomakulu (who was once my intern and is now taking a seat at the table of transformation), as this is testament to all the efforts towards inclusion. I am thankful to Net#work BBDO, who from the beginning embraced diversity, for the support they have given me, the space to express myself and explore ideas as well as valuable time to serve the industry on various committees and boards,’ said Pezisa.

Pezisa said the power of Ubuntu, which sounds so cliché, is powerful and has been an anchor of her career. ‘Take the greeting Sawubona for instance, it is packed with such depth. It means: I see you, I acknowledge you, I submit to your presence and you matter. This is my approach to clients and their brands, to my team, my community and my family. This is part of the consciousness which I believe has contributed to my where I am today.’

Asked about what the future holds for the petite firebrand, she replied, ‘This is not the end but just the beginning for me. For me it is service, service and more service. I’ve been blessed with much and have so much to give back. Africa is a youthful continent. My passion is for young people and women and I believe I can make a real difference, especially in people development. I want to cultivate a culture of serving, which is a channel for building a progressive industry.’

On how the lockdown affected her, she said, ‘It has been a year of great reflection and digging deep and the award has come at the right time. I have always maximised on every opportunity along my career path. I hold the door and if someone opens, I budge right in. I will not stop breaking down barriers that hinder transformation,’ Pezisa added.

2020 Marketing Leadership and Innovation Award  

Chicken Licken’s Managing Director and Chief Marketer, Chantal Sombonos-Van Tonder, has made Loeries history by being the first second-generation award winner of the coveted Marketing Leadership Award, an honour her late father George Sombonos received in 2013.  

2020 loeries Marketing Leadership Award winner
Chantal Sombonos-Van Tonder, Chicken Licken’s Managing Director and Chief Marketer and 2020 loeries Marketing Leadership Award winner.

Sombonos-Van Tonder has made Loeries history by being the first second-generation award winner of the coveted Marketing Leadership Award, an honour her late father George Sombonos received in 2013.

The award was introduced by the Loeries in 2007 to recognise an individual for their marketing achievements over a sustained period of time. Previous winners have included Andrea Quaye, former Vice President of Marketing at Anheuser-Busch InBev; Doug Place, Chief Marketing Officer at Nandos; Claudia Waters, Marketing Communications Manager at Mercedes Benz and Yegs Ramiah, former Chief Executive of Brand at Sanlam.

‘Sombonos-Van Tonder’s leadership has seen Chicken Licken win numerous Loerie Awards over the recent years, culminating in Chicken Licken becoming the number one ranked brand in the Loeries 2019 rankings. Her support of her agency is a testament to how effective brand and agency partnerships can create innovative experiences for society,’ said Preetesh Sewraj, CEO of the Loeries.

An elated Sombonos-Van Tonder said, ‘It is a huge honour for me on behalf of my creative team and Chicken Licken family, but also on a personal level it’s a huge affirmation of the work I am doing in continuing my father’s legacy of tenacity and hard work while chartering new territories for the brand.’

Sombonos-Van Tonder, who eats Chicken Licken daily, is exceptionally passionate about the brand founded by her father in 1981 and attributes her business success to the partnership with creative agency Joe Public and her supportive husband and family. ‘The success of our brand is a balance between our agency’s outstanding creativity and my instincts for knowing what is best for the brand, which has been part of my life since primary school,’ she said.

Sharing her father’s firm belief in the power of creativity to move the business forward has already yielded exceptional results, despite the tough economic climate. Even with its doors closed during the Covid-19 lockdown, and while other brands struggled to strike the right tone, Sombonos-Van Tonder ensured that Chicken Licken nimbly adapted its advertising to delight its audience and thereby sustaining fans’ ardent brand love.

Since taking over the helm, Sombonos-Van Tonder has collected a series of accolades – a total of 49 Loeries including a Grand Prix, eleven Gold awards and both the coveted ‘Brand of the Year’ and ‘Brand Representative of the Year’ awards for 2019.

As one of a few women in leadership, the mom of two boys highlights that, ‘Women can achieve the same success and, with determination and support, can balance both career and family.’

Sombonos-Van Tonder holds a Bachelor of Scientific Economics from the University of Stellenbosch and has been at the helm of the business for nearly two decades. ‘Chicken Licken is my life and I am as passionate about it as my father. He once told me that if you believe in something, you should be willing to die for it.’