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Simphiwe Zaukana of Zinto dances to the beat of his own drum

Simphiwe Zaukana (32) of Soweto, also known as Flex for his slinky dance moves, got his first break in the marketing industry as a pantsula dancer.
Simphiwe Zaukana
Simphiwe Zaukana
He was discovered at the age of 18 by Michelle Combrinck, CEO and founder of Zinto Marketing Group (Zinto), a brand activation and entertainment agency based in Linbro Park, Sandton.

As the company creates brand excitement via the arts, Combrinck stumbled across Flex in Soweto while scouting for promising youngsters. He was rehearsing a dance ensemble with a crew of other young and talented performers.

She enquired about the style of dance – pantsula – a popular South African Township dance incorporating fast-paced hip-hop moves. At the time, it appealed to the urban youth market that many of her clients were trying to reach via their branded entertainment platforms.

Combrinck assured Flex that once he completed his Matric she would give him the chance to audition as a dancer and potentially become a roadshow performer. A year later, when Flex contacted her, she offered him an opportunity to join the world of brand activation.

His first gig was for Yum Yum peanut butter and he was cast as the brand character Yummy. After a year of dancing on stage for school activations and shopping mall campaigns he was headlining the show as the main presenter/MC.

Flex had business acumen and a knack for ‘bringing brands to life’. Combrinck realised that he was more than ‘just a dancer’ and she offered him a position in which he would train other youth to upskill themselves. He was selected as the MC for all major brands across Zinto’s FMCG portfolio including Parmalat, Purina and McCain.

In 2006, he began work as a team leader for a national MTN campaign, and in 2009, he was promoted from account executive to campaign manager in the build-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and Swaziland.

Following the success of the campaign, FIFA contacted Flex to be the ‘face’ of the World Cup Fan Parks in Soweto, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Sandton.

Six years later, Simphiwe saw himself in the formal in-store department at Zinto and was running campaigns nationwide. He also became an in-store brand ambassador trainer, writing his own scripts and promoter guideline manuals.

In 2014, he was promoted to operations manager on MTN’s Y’ello Bus roadshow and was entrusted with his biggest campaign yet; to manage the MTN Uganda division for six months.

Aptly titled ‘Operation: Take Back Central Kampala’ he set off to paint the town ‘Y’ello’. Under his management airtime and data sales increased and he attained and converted thousands of new users while exciting MTN’s existing customer base at the service centres.

A testament to his hard work and dedication, Combrinck appointed Flex as Zinto’s head of operations in 2016.

17 Feb 2016 10:23