Castle Lager: Alastair Hewitt

Castle Lager: Alastair Hewitt


You’ve been with SAB for over 25 years. Looking back, what has been the biggest highlight and the biggest challenge during your career there?

The highlight has undoubtedly been the recent 2010 World Cup and the opportunity it provided to bring the Castle brand proposition to life, while the world’s eyes were on our country. The brand gained tremendous momentum during that period, something which we will leverage going into both the Cricket and Rugby World Cups.  My biggest – and most exciting – challenge was taking Castle Lager into Africa and marketing the brand across geographies.

What lessons and insight can you share about the opportunities and challenges in the rest of the continent?

Africa has immense growth potential – as good as anywhere in the world – and the business opportunities are massive. I think the key is to remain humble, to make an effort to learn about the local context and to put yourself in the shoes of the local consumer. Don’t be arrogant about imposing your brand on a country. What worked well for us was working together with successful iconic local beer brands before bringing in our own premium brands. It helped us to understand the local context and the local market.

What do you believe are the critical success factors for maintaining a strong brand that continues to be relevant to its market?

Fresh consistency. Be consistent by remaining true to the brand proposition and what it stands for, but always make sure you keep it fresh by being relevant to what is happening currently in the country and society. Our work in Africa provides an interesting example. We shot 14 different commercials for 14 different countries and while each of them carried a universal theme that was true to the brand, they reflected the local nuances and social context of each of the different countries.

SAB actively supports entrepreneurs through the KickStart programme. What advice would you give to people trying to get their business and their brand off the ground?

Although I am not directly involved in it I follow the KickStart programme with interest and believe it’s vitally important to give entrepreneurs a hand-up. I really admire their tenacity and the fact that entrepreneurs are so willing to take risks to become successful. My advice to them would be to persevere and be creative.

What are your key sources of inspiration and motivation?

I wake up early every morning. Life excites me and my work is stimulating. The company I work for and the country I live in are enormously inspiring. I love working on a brand as iconic as Castle Lager, and am inspired by its ability to become part of the fabric of South African life. On a personal level, I am always motivated by my family.

Juliet Pitman
Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.