Khaya Dlanga began his career as a copywriter, winning numerous local and international awards, including a Black Eagle and a Cannes Gold. He was Senior Communications Manager of Creative Excellence and Digital at Coca-Cola South Africa for six years, responsible for strategy, brand standards and advertising across all 26 brands in the portfolio at the time.
He led the re-branding of PowerPlay from packaging and positioning, resulting in PowerPlay becoming the only energy brand in the world across the Coca-Cola system to overtake RedBull in volume. He was also behind the Share a Coke campaign, which began in Australia but was raised to a new level in South Africa and was eventually adopted by over 90 countries.
While with Coca-Cola, the advertising work developed by the rest of the world passed the Link test benchmark score at a rate of 26%. He began an innovative process with Milward Brown (now Kantar) that saw over 85% of the work he developed pass research. As a result, all work produced during his tenure scored some of the highest Link test scores produced by Coca-Cola South Africa (CCSA) in the last 20 years.
Of the ten best scoring ads ever produced by CCSA, 60% (occupying 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10th place) of them were produced in that period, utilising the tools and research learnings he implemented. He was recognised several times at Coca-Cola’s Global Marketing Excellence Awards. Share A Coke was awarded two Gold Loeries, one of which was for Marketing Effectiveness.
In 2016, he joined Heineken as Marketing Manager on Amstel. The brand was seeing declines of 22% when he joined, but by 2018 when he left, it was growing by 2% from the 2016 base.
In 2018, he was invited to join rain, South Africa’s unlimited data network, as the company’s first Chief Marketing Officer. Rain is the fastest growing mobile network in South Africa and the only data-only mobile network in the world. As the only network of its kind, they had to blaze a trail through innovation in all aspects of the organisation. Rain was recently awarded the ‘Most Innovative’ award by Kantar WPP’s Brandz Top 30 Most Valuable South African Brands in 2019.
The company grew from a single product, selling just 25 SIM cards a month to tens of thousands per month by the time he left in 2022. As CMO, he led the “in-house” agency and marketing teams and was part of the team that led the launch of all products, including the first commercial launch of 5G in South Africa.
He was a frequent writer for the Cape Times and the Mail & Guardian News24 online, where his articles regularly featured in the ’10 most-read’ articles of each platform every year. He also published the best-selling book ‘In My Arrogant Opinion’. His second book, ‘To Quote Myself’, was published in 2015 and was the most stolen book in the country when it was published. It was a runaway bestseller and was shortlisted for South Africa’s most prestigious award, ‘The Sunday Times Alan Paton Literary Award’, a rare feat for a memoir. In September 2018, his book, ‘These Things Really do Happen to Me’ was published. The book was shortlisted for the SA Book Awards ‘Favourite Bestselling Adult Non-Fiction Book of the Year’.
In 2021, he published an experimental book compiled from confessions sent to him on Instagram. The title of the book is ‘It’s The Answers for Me’. Khaya has been invited to address numerous organisations including MTN, FNB, SAB, Investec Graduate programme, Nedbank Talks for Success, Dior, The Cape Town Jewish Board of Deputies among many others. He also addressed The Daily Maverick’s first, annual ‘The Gathering’; the transcript of his talk was the most-read piece on the platform for two years running.