media update’s Christine Beukes takes a look at three winning public relations (PR) campaigns that every South African agency can learn from.

A lot of thought, insight and money goes into a PR campaign, and it’s every practitioner's hope that their initiative will come out on top. So, what does it take to create a campaign that makes waves online? Well, it’s a lot of trial and error and learning from other agencies’ work.

There was an abundance of PR campaigns that entered the digital arena last year. But which ones had the online community on their feet?

Let’s take a look:

1. The '#DoYou' Suzuki S-Presso launch

The campaign: The ‘#DoYou’ campaign was originally launched to promote the new Suzuki S-Presso. The aim was to create hype around the new vehicle and that goal was definitely achieved as the initiative took home Gold at the 2020 New Generation Social & Digital Media Awards.

Suzuki sent out a press release announcing the live launch event on Facebook. Here, prospective customers could ask whatever they wanted during an interactive Q&A session about their new SUV. Hype was created on social media, and of course, the launch was accompanied by hashtags #DoYou, #SuzukiSA and #SPresso.

What PR agencies can learn: The art of anticipation was used effectively in this campaign, as the brand first sent out a press release announcing the new Suzuki S-Presso, dubbing it “the nation’s cheapest SUV”. The keyword here is ‘cheap’, which is definitely something that appeals to South African consumers, especially in the current economy. Who doesn’t want an affordable SUV?

Additionally, the campaign included social media elements, with excitement built around the live event on Facebook. The event helped supporters feel like a part of the launch.

Consumers could also discuss the build-up on digital platforms with keywords and hashtags. The choice of '#DoYou' also implies ‘do what makes you happy', which gives the call to action and call to purchase an ‘easygoing’ feeling.

You’re doing things your way by buying the new Suzuki S-Presso; this makes the consumer feel like they are in charge of their purchasing decisions, meaning they don’t feel like the promo is being shoved down their throat. Additionally, this phrase could imply that buying the new vehicle allows them to live life their way and follow their heart’s desires; ‘you do you’, says Suzuki.

2. Tastic’s ‘#MyHeritage’ campaign

The campaign: In celebration of Heritage Month in 2019, Tastic and DNA Brand Architects partnered up with fashion designer David Tlale to launch ‘#MyHeritage’.

The campaign, which scooped Gold at the PRISM Awards, involved the redesigning of the rice brand’s packaging to incorporate elements that, according to Tlale, “were inspired by the colours and textures of the women [he] grew up around, iconic South African buildings as well as the DNA of the House of David Tlale, which is all about structure, texture and drama.”

The purpose of the initiative was to encourage South Africans to embrace their heritage through food, music and fashion.

With words like ‘heritage’ and ‘Ubuntu’, it’s no secret that the aim of the campaign was for South Africans to unite in celebrating their differences. And with the country’s rich and diverse cultural flair, this campaign was the perfect setup for the public holiday, Heritage Day (otherwise known as National Braai Day).

The partnership with Tastic was also no accident, as the brand has been well-embedded in the nation’s culture for years; along with the celebration of heritage and cultural differences, the brand additionally allows South Africans to celebrate what unites them: Tastic Rice.

What PR agencies can learn: When possible, aim to align your campaigns with its audience: South African citizens. You can’t ever go wrong with the celebration of this beautifully diverse country.

‘Ubuntu’ is an important aspect of South Africa, as it focuses on the unifying of all the different communities. The coming together and celebration of differences form part of the country’s history and are something that people are always willing to commemorate (hint hint, PR pros).

This is especially true during these harsh economic times. The hashtag was even used again by DNA Brand Architects in September 2020 to remind people that the brand is ready to face Covid-19 by making wearing masks part of the South African heritage.

3. Nedbank and Levergy’s ‘#TeamUp4KZN’ initiative

The campaign: Nedbank and Levergy initially launched '#TeamUp4KZN' as a means to support those affected by the floods that occurred along the KwaZulu-Natal shoreline in 2019. The campaign called on football fans to back their teams ahead of the Nedbank Cup held in Durban. This was done by either asking people to donate money by retweeting the hashtag on social media or by having them assist with the beach cleanup ahead of the game.

According to Nedbank, “More than 2 200 soccer fans gave their time and energy to participate in five beach cleanups facilitated by the Nedbank Green Affinity programme and the WildTrust. Supporters collected more than 12.5 tonnes of waste off the Durban coast, of which 70% is recyclable.”

What PR agencies can learn: Campaigns that aim to foster hope and that are socially conscious are always a winner, and agencies can bet their bottom dollar that they’ll only be seeing more of this in future. This has been especially true during the pandemic, where the Four Cs of Covid-19 has become a trend.

In case you haven’t heard, the Four Cs are:
  • Community: Brand will be focusing on placing the needs of others over their own, and will even need to work on promoting other businesses in order to rebuild the community they live in.
  • Cleanliness: Many brands will alter their brand slogan and strategies to align with the times we’re living in, taking a cleaner approach to branding.
  • Contactless: Many products and services are being changed to ‘contactless’ in order to adapt to the new world.
  • Compassionate: Consumers are favouring brands that are socially conscious (see '#TeamUp4KZN' above), leading brands to strive to be compassionate towards the environment, other brands, communities and the like.

So, what can PR agencies do to ensure their digital campaign goes viral in South Africa? Here are our key takeaways:

Are there any other digital PR campaigns that are worth noting? Let us know in the comment section below.

Want to stay up to date with the latest news? Subscribe to our newsletter.

PR initiatives that educate the rest of the world about Africa could put a stop to ongoing stereotypes and generalisations about the continent. Learn more about the Four reasons why Africa needs more PR campaigns here.
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy