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Portrait of Janita, Head of Client Services

1. Let’s start with a meaty one… tell us about your experience leading up to Cracked.

Oh, jumping right in, I see? I started my love affair with marketing when I met a special lion known in South Africa as Simba! It happened by chance. I was working alongside my husband assisting with his catering business when I became involved in organising a community charity fair, and it was during the coordinating of that event where my paths crossed with Simba, who was actually the Simba Chips mascot (ha-ha) and the exciting world of marketing.

I had started my own events business which then became a turnkey marketing agency. I was privileged to work with Pepsico, Nestlé, Delonghi, Kenwood, Ferrero, Sally Williams, and most fragrance houses such as Gucci, Kenzo, Fendi, and Lacoste as a BTL agency for 10 years. My business blossomed into one of the largest BTL agencies in South Africa with satellite offices across the country. In 2015 I sold my agency to step into the world of FMCG, brand development, and nutrition. I wrote a cookbook, opened up a café franchise and a ready-to-bake food brand that was sold into retail stores. In 2020, I moved to the UK, and just before Cracked, I worked with another FMCG brand start-up here in the UK to develop strategies for its e-commerce business.


2. So, you lived in South Africa, ran your own agency, food brand, and café, AND wrote a cookbook… how did you find the energy?!

Fortunately, I didn’t have the restaurant and agency at the same time, that may have been a bit hectic, even for me! But I do have a busy mind and enjoy the work I do, so it has never felt much like work to me. I simply love to develop and grow people and brands. The energy really does come from the work I do. There’s nothing like receiving a great new project and getting stuck in and seeing the fruits of your labour in action.


3. What’s the one thing in the world of marketing that you’d like to change?

Junk mail. That must be the most annoying thing ever! I simply cannot stand getting irrelevant junk mail through my door or on my phone. Grrrrrrrrr. There is so much research now available on targeting your customers and being more precise in your messaging, and I feel rather sad for businesses that use mass flyer drops with generic messaging that simply lands in the bin.


4. You’re running your dream activation with an unlimited budget. What does that look like?

Oh my gosh! How much space do I have to write here? I would run an activation that brings an emotive purpose, one that connects customers emotionally to the brand outside of the commercial space and extends beyond the brand commercially. There was an amazing campaign done by Coca-Cola called hello happiness that really inspires me.

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The campaign was an enormous success due to the emotive connection it created with its audience. Pepsi has quite a stronghold in the UAE where this was shot, and this campaign created that connection with customers, which resulted in an uplift of sales for Coca-Cola.

I really do enjoy running integrated marketing campaigns that cohesively connect all the touchpoints along a consumer journey, which does mean that I enjoy the entire overarching strategy across the whole brand and into both the B2B and B2C channels.


5. What’s your favourite part about working at Cracked?

It’s the company culture and values. When a company has these, they attract better talent and, more importantly, retain that talent. If you feel you belong, you’re also more likely to stick around to grow and produce your best work.


6. The world of foodservice was slightly new to you when you first started. How do you feel about it now and what are your main takeaways?

It’s still relatively new to me. Although my husband had a large-scale catering business for 20 years and worked for a time at Eurest, there is much to still learn. I’m enjoying the process of learning about a new market immensely. My main takeaways are more footfall, more food, more often. That’s the aim, right?


7. What makes you proud? Work or otherwise…

I’m a mother to three boys and let me tell you, it isn’t a walk in the park! Eish! (South African term used to express a range of emotions, such as surprise, annoyance, or resignation!) What makes me proud is when they stand up for what’s right, hold onto their moral core, and are kind to others. I mean, if I can raise three humans to be kind, caring, and have good moral compasses, what more could I want?

Workwise, I get proud when I see colleagues grow in confidence and skill who have been part of my team or part of my journey. I simply love witnessing that.


8. How do you balance work and life?

This is really a tricky one. The reason I say this is because, for me, sometimes work is my ‘me time!’ I know that sounds strange but, in my work, I get to be creative in some areas and I find that rather calming. I do, however, leave weekends for my family. I spend most of it on the side of a rugby field with the dogs praying that I won’t be spending any of it at A&E.


9. It’s your last meal on Earth. What are you eating?

Starters would be deep-fried camembert cheese with a plum and cranberry sauce. A medium-rare beef sirloin topped with creamed spinach, sliced avocado, and crispy bacon, served with a side of the best roast potato wedges with homemade tomato sauce. I would end with a medley of desserts: panna cotta, dark chocolate mousse, and a slice of peppermint fridge tart (a South African treat!) with a dollop of my homemade vanilla ice cream. All rounded off with an Americano coffee. I would leave the earth stuffed!


10. And finally, the question on everyone’s lips: what’s on your agency playlist?

Oh blimey, this will show my age! I love Simply Red, Phil Collins, Sting, UB40 and other golden oldies.

Written by // 29th November 2021

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