Cell C appoints marketing chief

Cell C has appointed Melanie Forbes as chief marketing officer with effect from 1 August 2023.

Forbes brings over 25 years of experience in telecommunications, IT, and consumer electronics, having worked with brands such as Philips, NetFlorist (NetActive), Siemens, Nokia (NSN), and most recently, Vodacom.

Her background spans business-to-business and business-to-consumer across various African markets.

During her over 14-year stint at Vodacom, Forbes held key executive positions.

These included managing executive for consumer marketing, insights and research, and managing executive for the Gauteng consumer business unit.

Forbes holds qualifications from Harvard’s Senior Executive Programme, INSEAD, and GIBS for Strategy.

She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and communications from Unisa, a certificate in Marketing Management from Wits Business School, and a Brain-Based Coaching certification from the Neuroleadership Institute.

Forbes is the second Vodacom veteran to switch sides this month, following the appointment of Jorge Mendes as Cell C CEO from 1 July 2023.

“We are thrilled to welcome Melanie as our CMO,” Mendes said.

“We have solid plans to drive sustainable, profitable growth and her proven leadership, strategic acumen, and deep understanding of the industry will be instrumental in the implementation of innovative marketing plans to elevate our brand.”

Mendes had been at Vodacom for 23 years before deciding to take on one of the hardest jobs in South African telecoms.

His first hire was Rachael Ayo-Oladejo, Cell C’s newly-minted Chief of Staff, Strategy, and Business Transformation. She was at Vodacom for over 11 years.

There has been a wave of executive and board changes at Cell C in recent months.

Mendes’ appointment was announced a day after Cell C revealed that two MTN and Vodacom heavyweights had been appointed to its board.

These were former MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa and Vodacom corporate affairs executive Maya Makanjee. Motsa had also done a stint at Vodacom before becoming MTN SA CEO.

Today is also Cell C COO Andre Ittman’s last official day at the company after serving a three-month notice period.

Cell C said he is moving on to pursue other opportunities after implementing the company’s new operating model.

“There will not be an acting COO position and management will decide on the role in due course, in line with its mandate to drive growth and profitability,” Cell C told MyBroadband.

Forbes said she was excited to be part of the team spearheading the Cell C brand’s repositioning by putting customers at the heart of everything they do, and returning the company to growth and profitability.

Recent research by Analytico shows that Forbes has her work cut out for her.

It found that Cell C has a very poor brand that performed the worst across all market segments — technical and non-technical.

Only 3% of consumers said they would choose Cell C for a new LTE service.

Cell C’s marketing strategy and network quality failed to convince consumers that it offers a true alternative to Vodacom, MTN, or Telkom.

Now read: Marketing battle between Vodacom and MTN

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Cell C appoints marketing chief