Close to a million! - a social media success story
What exactly does it take to glorify a concept that your average Joe sees little glory in?
After intensive brainstorming and planning through Digital by Design and Pie Street Advertising it was decided that recognition, familiarity, character and personality were the key ingredients to create a tasty treat with all the right flavours that would keep the masses coming back for more.
The project - SABAT Batteries, which isn't necessarily uncool but considered ordinary and common, especially by the younger generation. Crafting a storyline that would play out as an ongoing series was the most tangible technique, with a subtle integration of the product itself.
AN EPIC AFRICAN TALE
Four students embarked upon an epic road trip of a lifetime, dubbed Help Save the Brave. Little did they know that they would be leaving behind the comforts of home, friends and family indefinitely. Disaster strikes in the desolation of the barren Kalahari, population - zero. The ancient Land Rover breaks down, as do their hopes of survival. Supplies will become scarce and they will trade all their earthly possessions for one sip of cold water. As nightfall approaches, the dark shapes of shadows from the skeletons of trees that once thrived become illusions of demons and despair.
But there is hope yet! The marvels of 20th century technology have provided a solution as the friends discover a CB radio in their inventory of provisions. Their cries for help don't go unnoticed thanks to the sensitive ears of a ham radio operator. However, they are damned if they know their actual coordinates and as days turn into weeks, the situation becomes desperate, the weather manic and the wild beasts hungry...
Back in their hometown Johannesburg, friends and family grow frantic and holler their concerns over the internet. Enough is enough and a secret organisation - the SABAT 7 - materialises to comb that desert.
BRINGING IT TO LIFE
Each character was created with the finest attention to detail. Allow us to introduce Mark Bullet Smith, his fashion-obsessed girlfriend, Carol Hudson, guitar hero Sipho Charma Tshabalala and farmer Piet Boer van Niekerk.
Thanks to the magic of photography, sound recording and social media the story was brought to life. Each character even had their own Facebook profile with the whole nine yards: pictures, regular postings, "friends", blogging and a gradual build-up to the forthcoming. A plethora of pictures and podcasts gave birth to the social media campaign's digital desert, which swarmed with activity. The ingenuity of linking the conceptual CB radio recording to the podcasts resulted in 22 000 hits within a matter of days and became one of the most downloaded YouTube postings in South Africa that month!
Now it was time for the fun part! At this stage we breathed life into the campaign by blogging and commenting on our four friends' Facebook profiles. With the bulk of the pressure off our backs it was time to invite the right people to the Facebook friend list, according to who would fit the target audience. Even "friends" of the four friends were introduced as regular bloggers, and the campaign began to gain increasing momentum. Over time, the Facebook sites garnered a healthy abundance of "likes" and comments, while the podcasts received an extremely satisfying level of views.
How could we stop when we were moving at bullet speed? We had to reward the followers of this worthy cause with competitions, which presented them the opportunity to win goodies like a SABAT gift pack, or better yet - an iPad! And how could a story with so much attention to detail go without a soundtrack? Why, that would be like Indiana Jones with no musical score. Needless to say it was produced and you may find it, along with everything else on www.facebook.com/helpsavethebrave.
WRAPPING IT ALL UP
Months later our friends are about 10 kilograms lighter, have completely lost their marbles and are quite ready to kill one another. They are dehydrated from the unforgiving African sun, encrusted in sand and are on their last legs.
Out on the horizon, a speck of the SABAT 7 rescue team and their colossal SABAT fleet grow larger, although the friends' gloomy sufferings pass it off as a mirage. Reality kicks in; the friends dance for joy and collapse to their knees. That deceptive Landy is now finally brought back to life in less than one minute (who knew that the power of seven heroes could produce such a quick miracle?).
Followers of the adventure would not miss out, as a series of links on the Facebook page to videos on YouTube showcase the long-awaited rescue. Other videos include "friends of the friends" appealing to the public to go online and support the Help Save the Brave cause and bring the marooned four back home.
Just to make sure that we could reel in as much awareness as possible, we promoted the campaign further on local radio stations and put posters of the campaign on billboards.
NOW THAT THE DUST HAS SETTLED
The big question is, was the campaign successful? Read the statistics below and you can be the judge:
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