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Loeries Special Section

#Loeries2017: Why young creative Thabang ‘TipiDang' Manyelo is a “masala tin of flavour”

The second part of this year's Loeries young creative award winning duo, Thabang ‘TipiDang' Manyelo shares his plans to 'Netflix the ad industry' and why winning this much-longed-for award is just the starter's gun, not the finish line.

Loeries CEO Andrew Human, says the way this year’s Young Creatives Award winners were described by their employers stood out from the crowd – they indicated two individuals of great character, who have the admiration of their teams and clients, bring fresh thinking to the industry and epitomise the young creatives we need to lead the next generation.

For example, Loeries chair-aunty and FCB creative director Suhana Gordhan describes the always inventive, unconventional and ravenous FCB copywriter Manyelo as a “masala tin of flavour, originality and love made visible.” Here’s why…

He explained on Arye Kellman’s CliffCentral show early last year that ‘TipiDang’ is pronounced as though you’re an American saying ‘dang’ – a moniker that’s nothing to do with his real name, by the way – was introduced at high school and stuck:

Following his brand education at Vega, he started his career at FCB Africa and is still there six years later, having become one of the agency’s finest copywriters of award-winning work, including Best of Show in radio at the One Show Awards and a Graphite Pencil at D&AD.

Manyelo’s not stuck scribbling away behind the agency desk, though. For example, he was the Inaugural Comedy Central Inter-Agency Comedy-Knockout Champion and a judge of the 2016 Loeries non-English TV, Radio and Print category.

Impressive for one so young, especially as he’s not fond of bragging, but Manyelo’s always known he was going to make it big in this industry, as a “super wild-child” who had engineering aspirations, when he won a storytelling competition in grade two and repeated the win in the coming years his eyes were opened to the wonder of a career based on what you do best.

I spoke to him about how badly he wanted this particular accolade as one of this year’s Loeries young creatives, why it’s so important to stay true to yourself in the creative industry and why we need to let more of the young batch lead important projects.

BizcommunityCongrats on your Young Creative Award win! What does this mean to you?

Manyelo with his coveted Young Creative Award.
Manyelo with his coveted Young Creative Award.

First of all, thank you to the Bizcommunity family and everyone that has wished me well, I appreciate the kind words.
If you’ve ever wanted something as much as I’ve wanted to be named a Loeries Young Creative, you’ll agree that it feels like being trapped under 100 feet of water, and all you want is one long drag of air. What it means, to me at least, is that this is the starter’s gun, not the finish line, and I need to pick the pace – the industry’s and mine!

BizcommunityShare your career highlights and trajectory thus far.
Throughout the years – all the awards I’ve won and all the tequilas I’ve been defeated by – my greatest highlight will forever be the first award I ever won: a student award. It taught me the value of hard work and the sweetness of victory, and I crave that feeling to this day. That’s why I work so hard year in, year out.

BizcommunityWhy is this type of recognition important to young creatives like yourself?
It’s the final nod you need if you’re an ambitious adolescent like myself. It’s like how you get that key when you turn 21. Your parents, the industry, are saying they trust you with the future of the household.

BizcommunityWhat’s your ultimate career aim? Where can we expect to see you in ten years?
My ultimate career goal is to Netflix the ad industry. By that I mean, I want to create an entity that makes people crave branded, with emphasis on branded, content as much as they crave the next episode of Narcos before it drops. People say it’s impossible because of the nature of brand communications, and I say: “That’s why I’m here… Just give me a couple of years”.

BizcommunityWhat advice would you share with creative youth looking to follow in your footsteps?
Be you! Be you! Whoever you are! We constantly see cheap imitations of past legendary creatives. It’s okay to have idols to look up to, you just can’t imitate them. The industry needed the ads I make. The funny, often weird, truly South African ads. That’s my style. And I can own that. And that’s what they awarded at the Loeries that night. A new young creative.

BizcommunityThat they did! What more can the industry do to bolster young creatives’ confidence and quality of work?
The industry needs to give young creatives more responsibility. Let them judge more work. Let them lead more projects. Because only the hottest fires forge the strongest steel, and wow, did FCB put me in some fires!

He adds that if you’re not obsessed with it, the industry’s not for you – if you have that passion then who knows, you could be next! Click here for more on Manyelo and feel free to interact with him on Twitter, visit the FCB Africa press office for more on the agency; click here for a reminder of my interview with Manyelo’s fellow Young Creative Award winner, Karmen Wessels; and click through to our Loeries Creative Week Durban special section for all the latest updates.

About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is former Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality, and of course, gourmet food and drinks! She can be reached on Twitter at @Leigh_Andrews.

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