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#BrandManagerMonth: Silke Bucker from SAB on the launch of Carling Blue Label beer

The launch of Carling Blue Label beer is quite interesting as its history is deeply entrenched in Carling's Black Label product.
Silke Bucker
Silke Bucker

“Carling Black Label has a strong heritage in South Africa. As the most awarded South African beer brand, with over 30 international accolades, it is no surprise that Carling has a large and loyal base of consumers,” said Silke Bucker, brand manager: Carling Blue Label beer of South African Breweries (SAB).

Commenting on the launch, she said: “We are quite excited to be able to launch a new beer variant that delivers on the quality and taste credentials that have become synonymous with Carling.

“Consumers are faced with an interesting range of choices in the alcohol category and Carling Blue Label beer was launched to deliver a truly unique taste experience in the form of a single malt beer. We are confident that Carling Blue Label beer will be added to the repertoire of the discerning drinker when the occasion suits.”

Here, she explains what it means to be a brand manager at SAB, working on one of the biggest beer brands in the country…

BizcommunityHow will your experience working on the Carling Black Label beer brand stand you in good stead to market the Blue Label brand?

Spending four years on the biggest beer brand in South Africa has taught me a fair amount about the beer category and, within Carling, the men who love this brand. As Carling Black Label is the champion beer that all champion men deserve, I am quite familiar with masculinity and its nuances within South Africa. I understand the consumer and how to launch a brand to build their repertoire, a premium brand that has the credibility to play in the masculine space.

BizcommunityCarling Black Label beer has come a long way in South Africa and, in recent years, the brand has taken great strides in representing modern masculinity, which is more characteristic of the South African man of today, as opposed to the blue-collar worker of the 1960s.
  • What does Carling Blue Label beer represent?

Carling Blue Label beer celebrates the efforts of bold choices, respects and recognises key milestones, and rewards men with the bold taste of this single malt beer.

This beer is brewed for those who are unafraid of doing things first, and who are bold enough to try new experiences. Those who learn, explore the world and create new things.

  • What learnings will you take from the other product, and how will you apply them to the new brand?

    SAB has launched some great brands in the last couple of years, including Chocolate Milk Stout and Flying Fish. Learnings from these launches, as well as overall experience on Carling, will ensure a balance between what works in the premium space and the integrity of the authentic Carling brand. The best learning when creating the brand is clarity around what it is and where it plays. The consumer is ever evolving and we need to make sure that our offering evolves at the same pace.

  • How does the brand differ from/compare to Carling Black Label beer and how will you market it similarly/differently?

    Taste remains at the core of both Black and Blue Label with the target consumer being male. Both brands are rooted in authenticity and reward the efforts men put in to make a success of their lives. Carling Blue Label delivers an authentic masculine premium lager. A brand bold enough to push boundaries and create a single malt beer with a distinguished taste, whilst not losing the heritage of masculinity and authenticity, which Black Label so proudly stands for.
  • BizcommunityDescribe a day in the life of a brand manager of SAB.

    Exciting! Not a day goes by that doesn’t hold a new challenge. I get involved in conversations with some of the best marketers and strategists in the world, while still being able to get my hands dirty in the execution. It is a great learning school and one of the only FMCG companies where marketing to this scale is still happening. Don’t get me wrong, there are challenges and I have learned some hard lessons, but SAB has a great culture and, for me, the biggest lesson I learnt is push the boundaries but remain humble - humility is what you need to be a great leader.

    BizcommunityExplain your role.

    The opportunity to work on Carling Blue Label beer enables me to come up with big ideas and strong creative based on insights, whilst not losing sight of the detail. It is an end-to-end role that enables me to create the strategy and manage activations, communications and innovation for this new product. My job also entails a large amount of relationship building internally and externally to ensure the brand gets the support it needs.

    BizcommunityWhat do you see currently as the main opportunities and/or challenges in the alcoholic beverages sector?

    Economic conditions are tough in South Africa at the moment and, like all industries, we need to offer consumers the best value-for-money proposition to enable them to make the best choices. My biggest challenge within this role now is making consumers aware of this new brand and what it stands for, so that they choose to include it in their repertoire.

    BizcommunityWhat do you love most about working at SAB and particularly on the Carling brand?

    For a pure marketer as I am, working for a company with brands such as Carling is a dream. Every day is full of challenges, not one day is the same as the next, and this is what we thrive on. The accountability knowing that you own a brand, or even a piece of a brand that is part of history, drives me to push boundaries and bring to life ideas and executions leaving the brand in a better place than where I found it. There is a lot of collaboration with people, internal and external, which makes you feel like you are part of a much bigger team, all driving the same goals. A brand manager at SAB is not just a marketer, you run a business as that is how our brands are set up. The learnings from understanding the full circle in the business continually grows my understanding of not just marketing, but business principles. Working on brands such as Carling is a privilege and has influenced me as a marketer in a way that has set me up for success no matter where my career takes me.

    About Jessica Taylor

    Jess is Senior Editor: Marketing & Media at She is also a contributing writer. moc.ytinummoczib@swengnitekram

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