TOP flight branding and marketing guru, Jerry Elago has landed himself with a new post of Senior Brand Manager (Heineken and Amstel), at Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) ending his six year relationship with Bank Windhoek.

In between, the 36 year-old ran his own Strategic Marketing and Brand Management consultancy firm.

His appointment at NBL earlier this year was not noticeable until much recently when NBL announced that it was now manufacturing Heineken and Amstel brands locally, and that Jerry Elago was behind all the promotion and branding of the two products.

After having been lured by the NBL or the entire O&L Group’s quest to have competitive employees through a retention program aimed at attracting, developing and exposing the best skills and competence in the Namibian market to global best practise, Elago says he “was extremely flattered when approached by the organisation to consider an application for the post.”

He, however, admits that promoting a beer brand actually needs to be governed by societal norms and values, in fact Jerry Elago says all employees at NBL are aware of this.

“We have a great amount of actions that guide us in ensuring compliance to societal norms. The NBL marketing department is governed by a self-imposed Marketing Charter that clearly outlines unacceptable marketing practises. We do not at all, condone marketing practices that encourage or glamourise behaviour and consumption that is against the laws or the societal norms. My own professional integrity and moral ethics have guided me well in the past to ensure just action, I trust that I can, at all times act in the best interest of our communities and our business.”

He adds that NBL, being a formidable force in the regional beer market, will be able to compete effectively at a global level with the introduction of the two brands as well as its strong partnership with foreign partners Diageo and Heineken NV, who are both well established players in the global alcoholic beverages industry.

“Our relationship with these two players has not only expanded our portfolio of brand and product offerings, it has also elevated us to the position of global exporter of our own world class brands. We are by no means minnows in the regional market and through our unique understanding of the Namibian market place, NBL will always be able to innovate and produce a range of products and marketing solutions that meet and exceed the needs of the Namibian (and global) consumer.”

“In my current job, I find that working for global brand like Heineken and Amstel provides the opportunity to experience marketing from a global perspective and tap into the true nature of my profession. I have an optimistic view of the Namibian market place and that will lend itself well to delivering value to my current employer. As for the Heineken and Amstel brands, I couldn’t have asked for a greater portfolio of brands to build onto.”

Jerry Elago believes that marketeing executives have more to do in the Namibian business environment then “just managing promotional activities and going from one trade fair to another.”

Having amassed a wealth of knowledge on the Namibian consumer landscape, Elago has identified, implemented and explored some unique innovations in marketing communication in the country.
He says the market needs strong strategic marketing planning and management competence to be able to tap into its huge commercial potential, and adds that research, planning and innovative execution can contribute to a successful marketing strategy and this relies greatly on a clear, actionable and honest consumer or customer insight.

According to Elago, many businesses fail because of selfish marketing practices such as developing communication strategies that suit their media and product behaviour needs instead of that of the market and their consumers.

He decries the failure of the profession to establish itself as a strategic and critical business function that requires discipline and lots of experience to executing strategies.

“Marketing is a deliberate strategic action that should be employed to harness organisational resources and market insight to deliver value to the Namibian consumer or customer with an eye on continuous innovation and development.

“There has also been the myth that if you are well spoken you must be the best person to deal with organisational marketing and public relations issues. The reality is however, that Marketing is a discipline that warrants much more than the planning and execution of a function or getting to enjoy visits to pompous events and rubbing shoulders with the well -off and elite,” he says.

With a career that spans 15 years, marketing and communication has become the cornerstone of Jerry Elago’s success. His goal is now to be at the forefront of redefining the role of marketing as a discipline in the Namibian business environment. He also intends with other colleagues in the field to start-up an association for the discipline.

“My goal is to help establish an association for marketing professionals and create a platform for dialogue and peer review and self-regulation amongst members of the marketing industry.

Marketing and communication was more of a calling rather than just settling for “just any” other profession, for Elago. This required of him to dedicate his time and effort towards doing it to the best of his ability, and sometimes to the detriment of those close to him. These efforts included working late and the going to work as early as 3am and being the last person to leave any organised event and making sure that he networked as much as possible with everyone. Of course, times have now changed as the focus is now on developing competence and broadening of skills, while getting inspiration from those around him.

“I am a people’s person in all essence of the word and that has allowed me to have met with and engaged people of various strata and spheres of life. I am inspired by people, the way they think , face their day-to-day challenges and set goals for themselves. I am inspired by members of my immediate family, many of whom have made great successes of their respective lives and fill various roles in my life. It is this ability to see people for their potential, their successes, their ambitions and their strives to succeed that has made me a good and sometimes radically creative marketer. I have also had the pleasure of working with people who have allowed and encouraged radical thinking and that has really fuelled my growth and success.”

He singles out his involvement in the Bank Windhoek process of re-branding and re-positioning as an experience that he would like to place on top of the list of successes.

“Having helped to put in place a plan and executed the transformation of the organisation as well as we did – this is now the 2nd biggest Bank in the country and a truly and proudly Namibian one. I have had plenty of disappointments and failures, however the one that sticks out is the fact that after years of discussions and planning I have as yet not helped to set up my dream of a Professional Marketers Forum.”

A father of two, Elago matriculated at Concordia College in Windhoek.

His professional career started at MTC where, at the time, there were only about 40 staff members. By the end of the third year, he had been promoted to the position of Marketing, Promotions and Sponsorship Executive.

He left MTC to start a career in stock broking as a Dealer and Sales Trader at IJG stockbrokers. This was followed with an appointment as Sales and Advertising Manager for The Namibian newspaper.

“In fact I took charge of the department a week after the introduction of the government advertising ban on the Namibian as ‘baptism of fire’ . I was then offered an opportunity to join a leading Advertising Agency , DV8 Saatchi & Saatchi as Director of Client Service and Strategy.

It was during this time that Bank Windhoek decided to re-position itself in the Namibian Market. They then head-hunted me for the position of Brand Manager for Bank Windhoek, a job which I filled quite proudly for six years. I left Bank Windhoek to set myself up as a consultant and operated for a year as a shareholder of Pro-Image and BrandConnect CC before joining the NBL.”PF