Coke’s phonetic can introduces South Africa to itself

It’s been 25 years since apartheid was dismantled. South Africa now recognises 11 official languages. But the truth is, South Africans still can’t say each other’s names.

 coca-cola-SA-phonetic-can

How to greet

In the summer of 2018, FCB Joburg and the brand known for putting people’s names on its cans, Coca-Cola, did something more. Together they helped introduce South Africa to South Africa, by putting the phonetics of each name from all the different languages and cultures on Coca-Cola packs, effectively teaching South Africans to greet each other, by name, correctly.

When briefing the agency, integrated marketing communications director, Monali Shah explained: ‘The original ‘Share A Coke’ campaign that put people’s names on cans was a global success. This time, we should aim take it even further in bringing South Africans together.’

The campaign went beyond this, opening up conversations about identity in South Africa that have always been swept under the rug.

The agency’s response – the ‘Coke PHONETIC CAN Campaign’ – addressed one of the fundamental social barriers preventing South Africans from finding common ground and understanding each other. Its success was born from a simple, clear insight shared in a manner that resonated with ordinary South Africans.

‘A fundamental first step in getting to know someone is being able to greet that person and say their name correctly. However, with 11 national languages, people needed to put in a lot more effort to understand each other,’ says FCB Joburg chief creative officer, Jonathan Deeb.

‘By adding the pronunciation to people’s names, the Coca-Cola Can became much more than an acknowledgement of identity – it became a teacher, a change maker. Wherever there was a Coke Can, there was an opportunity to learn, or at the very least, to just try. The Can became an invitation to say a name without fear. It became a way to bridge language divides, an education tool and a symbol of cultural pride,’ he says.

coca-cola-SA-can-response

For everyday South Africans, by everyday South Africans

The Coke PHONETIC CAN Campaign was one of the largest integrated campaigns tackled by FCB Joburg in the past 12 months (it broke in November 2018 with elements of the campaign running until June 2019).

Devised by FCB Joburg’s creative team comprising creative director Suhana Gordhan, senior art director Jonathan Wolberg, senior copywriter Paul Frade and art directors Jeremy Miller and Yaseen Mahomed, it began with the name and pronunciations on Coca-Cola packs but extended much further into countrywide activations, television, cinema, radio, in-store, outdoor and numerous social content components.

‘For a campaign about social cohesion and respect, the agency wanted to feature everyday South Africans and cast for names, not faces,’ says Gordhan.

‘Those people were part of over 30 pieces of TV and online content, and were featured in over 800 outdoor sites across the country. Radio told stories about name mispronunciations, while highlighting the interesting differences in our languages. National radio stations changed their names and jingles for the day to the most difficult names in South Africa. By teaching a vending machine your name, you could get your own personalised can. Online, Coca-Cola spoke to teens in their native tongue – gifs – and for the complex African click sounds, episodic sound guides were created,’ she says.

To ensure total inclusivity, FCB Joburg consulted with The Department of Home Affairs to gather data on South Africa’s most popular names per region based on all 11 languages. Working with linguistic professors and writers, it developed a simple, non-academic phonetic system.

Interestingly, the Out-of-Home strategy deliberately mismatched languages to regions. This meant that people in Kwa-Zulu Natal, a province of predominantly Zulu speaking people, were served billboards in Sotho, Xhosa or any language other than just Zulu. People in the Eastern Cape, where Xhosa is mostly spoken, would see Sotho or Setswana billboards. In other words, everyone always had a chance to learn a name they didn’t know.

The campaign captured South Africa’s imagination, with people spontaneously generating and sharing their own name stories. A language teacher even requested permission to use the campaign content as a teaching aid in her classroom, and the country’s largest soap operas picked up on the campaign and included the phonetic can in their storylines.

In addition, FCB Joburg’s industry peers gave the initiative the thumbs up. AmaCreatives, an online community of young industry talent highlighting African creativity in all mediums and platforms, had this to say: ‘Coca-Cola gives power back to the people of South Africa. This is what we call a CREATIVE MZABALAZO!!’ [creative revolution].

While the campaign results were beyond impressive and peer praise is always welcome, FCB Joburg and Coca-Cola were most pleased to see that in a country with a complex history, ‘The Coke PHONETIC CAN Campaign’ inspired something really special. Respect for each other’s names and for South Africa to finally say names like Tsholofelo, Xolisa, Johannes, Relobogile and Tamsanqa right. Or at the very least…to just try.

Watch a case study about the campaign here 



Latest


07 May 2021
SKF sets new standard for hygiene design

With companies striving to perfect a proactive approach to food safety, SKF is launching the new Food Line ball bearing…

SKF sets new standard for hygiene design

With companies striving to perfect a proactive approach to food safety, SKF is launching the new Food Line ball bearing units – Blue Range, which extends a hygienic-design mentality to bearing unit components for food-processing equipment. Innovative ball bearing units expand hygienic-design possibilities, while delivering improved reliability, reduced maintenance costs,…

06 May 2021
No new outbreaks of Avian flu in SA

No new outbreaks of avian influenza have been reported since the previously confirmed cases, however South Africa’s poultry and ostrich…

No new outbreaks of Avian flu in SA

No new outbreaks of avian influenza have been reported since the previously confirmed cases, however South Africa’s poultry and ostrich industries remain under national high alert with strict biosecurity measures in place. An appeal is also made to hobbyist keepers of any birds, including poultry, to remain vigilant and report…

05 May 2021
Marcel Strauss appointed COO of The Franchise Co.

The Franchise Co. has appointed Marcel Strauss as its new chief operating officer (COO) for all the group’s brands. “We…

Marcel Strauss appointed COO of The Franchise Co.

The Franchise Co. has appointed Marcel Strauss as its new chief operating officer (COO) for all the group’s brands. “We are very happy to announce the appointment of Marcel as our group’s new Chief Operations Officer. Marcel has been with The Franchise Co. for the last four years where he…

04 May 2021
Beer brewing is on the agenda at Sustainability Summit Africa 2021

Smart Procurement World will host Africa’s first ever continent-wide sustainability summit on 18 and 19 May 2021. The event features…

Beer brewing is on the agenda at Sustainability Summit Africa 2021

Smart Procurement World will host Africa’s first ever continent-wide sustainability summit on 18 and 19 May 2021. The event features local and international experts who will address the critical role played by supply chain and procurement professionals not just in achieving environmental goals, but also in ensuring the longevity of…


Top stories


07 Feb 2020
Deli meat producer creates SA’s first plant-based sandwich slices

Feinschmecker Deli Meats, who have built up a formidable reputation as the market leader in speciality deli meats in South…

Deli meat producer creates SA’s first plant-based sandwich slices

Feinschmecker Deli Meats, who have built up a formidable reputation as the market leader in speciality deli meats in South Africa, has launched a range of plant-based sandwich slices under the brand name Gudness. It is the first range of its kind produced in SA.

18 Mar 2020
Avocado growers celebrate the ancient history of avos this season

According to the THP 2020 Flavour & Trend Forecast*, Michelin star restaurants around the world will be increasingly seeking out…

Avocado growers celebrate the ancient history of avos this season

According to the THP 2020 Flavour & Trend Forecast*, Michelin star restaurants around the world will be increasingly seeking out traditional ingredients from some of the oldest civilizations this year, particularly Central and South America.

18 Mar 2020
Limpopo residents become eco-warriors

Residents in northern Limpopo are becoming eco-warriors thanks to a new campaign which aims to see environmental waste reduced and…

Limpopo residents become eco-warriors

Residents in northern Limpopo are becoming eco-warriors thanks to a new campaign which aims to see environmental waste reduced and much-needed jobs created.

31 Mar 2020
Sleep friendly food and beverages are the next big trend with millennials

GlobalData predicts that sleep-friendly ingredients in food and drinks are the next big trend as it aligns with consumers’ desire…

Sleep friendly food and beverages are the next big trend with millennials

GlobalData predicts that sleep-friendly ingredients in food and drinks are the next big trend as it aligns with consumers’ desire for a good night’s rest through natural methods.


Visit the official COVID-19 government website to stay informed: sacoronavirus.co.za