He’s a South African on a two-year secondment to Woking, and he
won’t be sorry to leave our ’so-called’ summer to get back to a ’real’
summer when he returns to his homeland in August.
Not that Rob Abel, the sales and marketing director of Appletise,
dislikes the UK. He has travelled all over, mostly at weekends, and
enjoys countryside pursuits such as pheasant shooting.
When he’s not out with his gun, Abel sells Appletise. The culmination of
his last two years’ work is an advertising campaign by Lansdown
Conquest, which suggests that people can actually see Appletise’s fruity
smell. Although Abel has not sighted the smell himself, he is pleased
with the campaign’s strategy and praises Lansdown, which he describes as
’the smallest big advertising agency in the world’.
Abel says: ’I came to the UK with my wife because of the challenge, and
to work with a London agency. I have learned a lot in ways I didn’t
expect - here, you are much closer to your markets from a distribution
point of view.’
But he’s been disappointed with the rugby and cricket on offer in
Britain: ’The atmosphere is much more formal - they don’t party as much
as they do in South Africa.’
There was no dilemma over whether or not to stay on in the UK, because
South African Breweries, the owner of the Appletise brand, has decided
that worldwide sales and marketing should be run from Johannesburg, so
Abel’s post will be axed after his departure in August.
Back in South Africa, he will be the sales manager for SAB’s
distribution company. Abel prefers the sales side of his job because ’it
is more direct and hands-on, with tangible results’.
After studying sales and marketing at university, Abel, now 33, joined
the sales team of a food company before moving to the SAB group, where
he has worked for more than five years. His only regret about returning
to South Africa is that he will not be living in his home city, Cape
Town, which he touchingly describes as ’the most beautiful city in the
world, with all those women walking round in bikinis.’
A far cry from the wet Wednesday in Woking when he speaks to Campaign,
but despite the drawbacks, he insists: ’I’d stay on if I could.’
A few good rugby matches at big stadiums like Twickenham and Cardiff
Arms Park have not been enough to satisfy his appetite for the game, and
small-scale regional matches are not a patch on the equivalent games in
South Africa, where 60,000 people will turn up to see their local
Similarly, the British approach to cricket has been a bit of a let down.