Boss of chicken fast-food brand flies high as SA’s Marketer of the Year

By our News Team | 2023

Chantal Sombonos–Van Tonder recognised at IMM Marketing Excellence Awards for leading Chicken Licken to numerous industry accolades.

Chantal Sombonos–Van Tonder, the CEO and head of marketing for Chicken Licken, has been named Marketer of the Year by the IMM Institute South Africa at its IMM Marketing Excellence Awards last night (Wednesday, 8 November).


The winners received their awards at a gala dinner held at The Venue in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, as part of the 2023 IMM Marketing Conference.

Marketing Awards

Brand Pretorius (left), winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, with David Zyambo: Director, People Continuity–Africa Zone at SAB, part of AB InBev. SAB was the award sponsor

The Awards honour those individuals and marketing teams who have made significant contributions to the marketing industry in the country.


Chicken Licken is a popular local fast-food brand. Under Sombonos–Van Tonder’s tenure, the brand has garnered multiple accolades, including 133 Loeries and seven consecutive ‘Brand of the Year’ awards.


This is alongside eight D&AD Pencils and a Bronze Cannes Lion. In 2020, Sombonos–Van Tonder won the prestigious Loeries Marketing Leadership and Innovation award.


Pat Mahlangu won the Emerging Marketer of the Year accolade. Mahlangu is a marketing media entrepreneur with over 12 years of experience. In 2020, he launched Lerato Agency, serving both local and international brands. His commitment to inspiring young people led to the creation of the Top 16 Youth-Owned Brands Awards, celebrating youth excellence in brand building. 


Dhashika Ramgolam was named Marketing Student of the Year. Ramgolam is a digital marketing manager with 15 years’ experience. She is an academic achiever who consistently excels, currently pursuing her honours degree while managing a full-time role as a digital marketing manager.


The Albany Bread Brand Team from Tiger Brands won Corporate Marketing Team of the Year. Albany is woven into the fabric of South African culture, and its brand team is passionate about preserving this legacy while meeting the evolving needs and preferences of South African consumers.


This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to Brand Pretorius, an iconic motor industry marketer for Toyota, who also went on to take the helm at McCarthy Motor Holdings, skilfully rescuing the company from financial distress and saving thousands of jobs. His journey has been characterised by unwavering integrity and a commitment to literacy through initiatives like the Rally to Read.


Angela Bruwer, Academic Head of the IMM Graduate School and also a judge, congratulated each of the deserved winners, noting the decisions had been tough choices. She observed that classic marketing strategies are no longer enough to move businesses forward, which was the theme of the conference.


Conference ventures into the AI realm


The 2023 IMM Marketing Conference, held at the IMM Graduate School in Parktown Johannesburg on 8/9 November 2023, this year ventured into the realm of AI, exploring its potential in marketing. 


It also delved into the evolving landscape of influencer marketing, redefining its impact. Delegates were given hands-on tips on how to navigate the intricacies of user-generated content – striking a balance between its vibrant energy and potential risks.


Attendees enjoyed an array of practical case studies, panel sessions, and insights from international and local industry giants as they shared what it means to be a marketer in 2023.


A highlight of the conference was a Brand SA session looking at ways to position the South African brand. It commenced with the keynote presentation titled ‘Creating a Compelling Brand Story for South Africa: Unleashing its Global Appeal’, followed by a review of global trends and innovations in destination marketing, and a panel discussion.

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.