The Leading Brand Architect

Eight years ago no one would have imagined that a black-owned advertising agency in South Africa would be counted amongst the top internationally for exceptional work and resilience.

This is partly because at the time, and even now, the industry is untransformed. It is for this reason that the creation of DNA Brand Architects eight years ago by Sylvester Chauke matters then and even now.

When Sylvester Chauke founded what is now considered one of the top 100 fastest growing advertising agencies in the world by ADWEEK, he did not just establish a marketing agency but he changed an industry.

To understand the importance and the impact of Sylvester Chauke and DNA Brand Architects, you have look at his fingerprints in the Nandos and Lion lager campaigns. One he worked on before he started the agency and the other under his agency.

LISTEN & WATCH below an interview with

Sylvester Chauke by Wesley Diphoko

DNA Brand Architects is one of the Top 100 fastest-growing marketing agencies in the world.

Before Sylvester, no one cared about chicken adverts. They just had a few seconds of fame while South Africans continued watching their television sets. Enter Sylvester and the whole game changed. South Africans now pay more attention to Nandos ads than they did before his time. Even the ruling party paid attention. In 2009 during election time, a chicken advert got the attention of one of the most powerful organisations in South Africa, the African National Congress. It’s treasurer-general, Mr. Matthews Phosa, invited Sylvester to a meeting at the headquarters of the ANC in Johannesburg, where he requested him to stop the ad.

Although an ad that featured the ANC Youth League leader, Julius Malema, at the time was eventually canned, it became a catalyst for Sylvester Chauke.

He went on to lead an agency that scooped numerous industry awards. One of them for the Lion Lager campaign. Lion Lager launched a campaign as an ice breaker after many years of silence. Lion Lager was an integral part of SAB’s heritage and a legendary brand that was first brewed in 1889 at the Newlands plant in Cape Town.

Lion Lager was the biggest seller in the SAB group during the ‘70s and into the early ‘80s, with the recent comeback in the 2000’s the brand repositioned itself to appeal to a different target audience. DNA Brand Architects became the go-to agency to make this possible and they delivered the goods.

DNA Brand Architects curated a five-part digital series named ILOBOLA NGE BHUBESI that was entertaining, through the use of social media and they were able to drive conversations.

It was an Ad that told a story that celebrated the resilient spirit of South Africa. It was a story about love, pride, life, overcoming challenges, and the resilient spirit of a young South African man.

Their aim was to create work that people would relate to and also get them to guzzle some LION LAGER. As a result of this, Lion Lager took the second screen by storm. The limited five-part drama series launched on 22 October 2018 on the brand’s Facebook page, as well as their Twitter and YouTube platforms, won industry awards.

The excellence with which DNA Brand Architects delivers its work has not gone unnoticed. The international community within the advertising industry has been paying attention.

ADWEEK has named DNA Brand Architects as one of the 2020 Top 100 fastest-growing marketing agencies in the world. It has also highlighted the brand agency in the Top 10 international category.

The accolade, awarded to them by the marketing industry’s leading platform for branding, advertising, and media content, Adweek, is given to organisations that have achieved exceptional growth over the past three years. To be eligible for the Adweek’s Fastest Growing list, agencies provided three years of earned revenue from 2017 to 2019 and had to have at least $250,000 of revenue in 2017. Participating agencies were required to certify the accuracy of their reported revenue figures, and additional auditing to determine the accuracy of the submissions.

Speaking about this important recognition, Chauke had this to say ”Being celebrated for growth during this time, it’s humbling and we are honoured“

DNA Brand Architects is not just any other advertising agency that has existed in the past in South Africa. It’s an agency that truly stands against bland by delivering great work as proven by the recent accolade as well as others. It is an inspiration to many young black creatives to strive for excellence. For the industry, it is one of few if not the only one that truly brings a unique contribution that is missing in an untransformed industry. The DNA Brand Architects team understands what it means to be African. Every campaign they touch never misses a mark in creatively communicating to an African market.

Sylvester Chauke has truly built an institution in the African advertising industry. His leadership remains an inspiration to many young advertising professionals today.

It is therefore not a surprise that ADWEEK has recognised DNA Brand Architects for growth. Sylvester’s leadership style entails developing a strong team of creatives that are adding value to the industry. The results show for themselves as clients continue to work with this powerful African business which is adding unique value to the advertising industry in South Africa and the world.

It will continue to make significant inroads, particularly in terms of transforming the advertising industry which has been slow to transform and embrace diversity. The team at DNA Brand Architects bears testimony to the fact that the leader is committed to making a difference in the industry by developing a talent that has previously been ignored and untapped.

There’s no doubt that Chauke is showing the industry that it’s possible to be passionate about transformation and still deliver results. The ADWEEK recognition illustrates that African creatives can create value and a sustainable business even during a difficult period.

DNA Brand Architects has been in existence for only 8 years in comparison to others that have been around for years. Judging by its past and current performance, DNA is poised for growth that cannot be imagined right now.


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