The new agency will manage fully integrated digital marketing campaigns for customised sports sponsorships and events, combined with its strategic, creative, digital and analytical capabilities, which will aim to drive measurable business growth for clients.

"Sport truly transcends all boundaries in South Africa, and around the world. Yet, we feel it is the most underutilised brand engagement opportunity available," says Sharman.

"Historically, brands generally sponsored a particular sport because the CEO or CMO happened to enjoy or participate in it. Doing so has meant that they’ve missed the opportunity to use sports sponsorship to address or achieve a strategic business or communications objective," Sharman adds. 

"Sponsorship for sponsorship’s sake seldom achieves the full potential that a strong sports marketing campaign can deliver, and we have seen that a strong campaign that connects the right athlete and sport with the right audience can achieve exceptional results," Sharman says.

"We’re inspired to achieve great results for clients, and we’re excited about the potential in this industry – which is why we’ve launched Retroactive," he adds.

Retroactive will aim to help brands connect with the hearts and minds of sporting fans, and will identify ways to create genuine value and resonance for them.

According to Retroactive, these are the brands that will be ahead of the game in understanding and embracing changing attitudes towards athletes and the changing dynamics of what it means to be a fan.

"I’ve been fortunate enough to experience sport from both the player and brand perspective, based on my commercial ventures that I have been involved in during my professional rugby career," says Habana

"We’re excited to blend our collective experience in sports and digital marketing to achieve exceptional, measurable results for our clients and the players who need to be guided in terms of the commercialisation of their personal brands," he adds.

Retroactive will aim to fulfil several roles for its clients, including: 
  • Creative digital marketing
  • Greater return on investment from sponsorships and campaigns run
  • Conceptualising the right fit between brand and sport 
  • Collaborating with sports personalities to aid them in better commercialising their social platforms
  • Re-commercialising live sporting experiences that engage with fans

Habana recently completed a business unit manager course through the Toulouse Business School during his time with French rugby club Toulon. He based his final thesis on a social media application that addresses the issue of transitioning from professional sport into the business world.

He has also invested in a procurement solutions company in South Africa called Procura, which aims to add value to its clients' procurement cycle in the more efficient and affordable procurement and logistics systems.

Sharman’s success in digital marketing is multiple award-winning and well-documented. 

Supporting Habana and Sharman in the day-to-day running of the agency is sports authority Ben Karpinski. Karpinski will fulfil the role of creative director and will aim to draw upon his know-how on the business of sport commercialisation and consumer insights to provide a distinct pulse to the agency.

"In 2009, I decided I wanted to do more with my marketing background and make my professional life all about sport. I didn’t know how to go about this at the time, but social media suddenly became a phenomenon that brought fans together. And with that, a life of content creation in my desired field was born," says Karpinski.

In June, Retroviral announced that Shaka Sisulu acquired a 51% stake in the agency, where he now assumes the role of chairperson. He will perform the same function at Retroactive, where he’ll bring his experience and network to the agency and its clients.  

For more information, visit You can also follow Retroactive on Twitter or on Instagram.