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Man on a mission: Nicholas Kühne, King Pie Marketing Manager

Published: 13 January 2011

King Pie might be the world’s leading pie franchise, but this inherently South African brand is set for even greater heights as it prepares to engage broader target markets, including a more affluent clientele. And new Marketing Manager, Nicholas Kühne, is the man that’s going to take it there.

Man on a mission: Nicholas Kühne, King Pie Marketing Manager
Extensive industry experience
A chartered marketer and BA marketing communications graduate, Kühne has eight years marketing communications experience in South Africa and abroad.

His previous posts as regional business unit director at TBWA Hunt Lascaris; senior brand consultant (West Africa and SA) at Interbrand Sampson; Instant Grass business unit director (SA and Africa); international brand manager (Africa and the sub-continent) at Nando’s International; and strategic planning and research executive at Youth Dynamix (SA and Nigeria), as well as a stint managing his own youth marketing consultancy have ensured a solid understanding of the marketing processes from both a client and agency perspective.

Focus on Africa
With a wealth of experience in African markets, Kühne has focused heavily on understanding emerging economies. He draws on this experience in his current role which – aside from national brand building – also includes liaising with international markets on all levels and assisting with international menu board rollouts and promotional calendar implementations.

These African experiences have shaped Kühne’s passion for doing business in South Africa and across the continent. “We really are AfriCANs – nothing is impossible. Yes, we live in a country that faces many challenges, but at the end of the day we get things done. South Africa is renowned around the world for producing excellent business people and marketers. With our unique set of conditions we have managed to do incredible work on this front and through showcasing these achievements, South African marketers can make an even greater impact on the world stage,” says Kühne.

Eye for the arts
Kühne’s heritage is deeply rooted in Africa, coming from a long line of Kühne artists and writers from the Cape. This background nurtured his love for the arts and as such classical music, playing the piano and guitar, and modern art are among his most fervent interests.

In fact, Kühne was accepted to St John’s College in Johannesburg on a music scholarship, has written three plays – all of which have been performed, and was accepted to the Cape Town Opera School, a positioned he declined to pursue.

A year at the prestigious St Lawrence College in Kent, UK, on a cricket scholarship (to do his A-levels) and attaining the non-commissioned officer rank of Sergeant in the Royal Air Force Cadets also fostered an interest in history.

“I love music, especially virtuoso musicians. I also have a keen interest in ancient and modern history and am driven to understand more about society through reading historical and social commentaries. I’m inspired by great men such as Winston Churchill and Jan Smuts, who had unique ways of perceiving problems and making things work by hook or by crook, even in the toughest of situations,” Kühne explains.

Family man
Kühne is committed to his family and strives to maintain that precious work-life balance. Although, with an overwhelming passion for his job and the constant drive to acquire new skills and improve his abilities, he admits maintaining that balance is sometimes difficult.

“My family is so important to me, so I aim for some sort of home life balance. Having a good relationship with a partner while working like a maniac is often difficult, but I have been blessed with a wonderful wife who understands and supports me...and reminds me that I need to come home some time! I really think striking a balance between the two is the key to a happy life,” Kühne adds.

Maximising value creation
He believes balance is equally important when managing a company’s marketing efforts which, he says, comes down to maximising value creation for both shareholders and the brand.

“As marketing manager you have to clarify and distil the company vision into the product, place, price and promotion of the business. This means communicating with the business’s stakeholders in a way that makes the company a relevant part of their lives.

“It’s a difficult proposition, as the brand is often seen as separate to the balance sheet. The brand must be nurtured and grown with a long-term perspective in mind whereas shareholders expect immediate gains and results. So a good marketing manager essentially guides the brand and the company in a way that maximises value creation on both sides, without compromising too much,” he explains.

Taking King Pie forward
This is a philosophy Kühne is pursuing at King Pie, where he aims to make the brand relevant in the lives of the ‘new’ King Pie customers it will be engaging in the future.

“My job is to ensure there’s a clear image in all consumers’ minds of the brand and what it represents. King Pie is a cheerful brand that focuses heavily on quality, taste and good value for money. This needs to be reinforced among our core target market but also promoted among the more affluent consumers – many of which are existing King Pie customers. This will be a major focus for us over the next five years,” Kühne concludes.

As King Pie Marketing Manager, Kühne’s responsibilities include increasing brand presence in existing markets through comprehensive brand-specific promotions; above and below the line communication with the goal to increase sales by 10%; co-coordinating the implementation of all marketing point of sale materials; implementing a brand-specific menu matrix in line with market standards; developing and managing locality marketing activities; managing the brand online; and co-ordinating tactical marketing activities.

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