The Zimbabwean: THE VOICELESS CAMPAIGN by TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris Johannesburg for The Zimbabwean

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Industry Publishing, streaming & media, Newspapers
Media Promo & PR
Market South Africa
Agency TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris Johannesburg
Executive Creative Director Damon Stapleton
Art Director Shelley Smoler
Copywriter Raphael Basckin
Editor Tongai Furusa
Released June 2011


Cannes Lions 2011
Media Lions Publications & Media Bronze

Credits & Description

Type of Entry: Product & Service
Category: Publications & Media
Advertiser/Client: THE ZIMBABWEAN
Product/Service: NEWSPAPER
Chief Creative Officer: John Hunt (TBWA)
Executive Creative Director: Damon Stapleton (TBWA)
Art Director: Shelley Smoler (TBWA)
Copywriter: Raphael Basckin (TBWA)
Account Director: Bridget Langley (TBWA)
Operations Director: Carol Soames (TBWA)
Production Director: Craig Walker (TBWA)
Featured Photojournalists: Dirk-Jan Visser/James Oatway/Robin Hammond ()
Creative Assistants: Christof van der Walt/Michael Grobler/Lucas Mathebula/Tebogo Suping (TBWA)
Editor: Tongai Furusa (14 10th Street Productions)
Project Manager: Leanne Ferris-Woods (TBWA)
Retoucher: Rob Frew ()
Stills Producer: Simone Allem (TBWA)
Technical Consultant on VoiceBox: Rose Shuman (Open Mind)
Results and Effectiveness:
In our first two months, The Voiceless Campaign has increased hits to THE ZIMBABWEAN website by 287%.
THE ZIMBABWEAN’s subscription base is growing by 10 % weekly.
Over half these subscriptions are bought for people inside Zimbabwe.
We used the silence the regime imposed, to talk to the world.
Creative Execution:
We approached every photojournalist who had managed to work in Zimbabwe over the past year for images. Onto these the iconic map of Zimbabwe was positioned to appear as an empty speech bubble, imploring action. Billboards, print and P.O.S posters directed consumers to a website where they could read, hear and locate the incidents. The imagery could be disseminated via social media and visitors could add their voices to the blog. They could also purchase/sponsor subscriptions. For poorer Zimbabweans without internet access to participate online, we invented an entirely new medium: VoiceBoxes were simple telephonic devices installed in safe places –enabling users to make comments orally which operators in South Africa transcribed directly to the blog.
Fear precluded media owners in Zimbabwe from running the campaign, but decals of the iconography were included copies of the paper. When Zimbabweans saw our executions, they knew exactly how to make their own.
Insights, Strategy and the Idea:
Calls for change have swept North Africa.
Further south, in Zimbabwe, the continent’s most brutal dictatorship arrests people for simply speaking about what’s happening in Libya.
Our client is a newspaper called THE ZIMBABWEAN. For speaking-out against this regime, its vehicles are burned, and even its vendors are beaten by Mugabe's notorious Central Intelligence Organisation.
This newspaper could not rely on street sales in Zimbabwe.
They needed to target over a million Zimbabweans who have fled to South Africa and even further abroad.
In a global news environment that was noisier than any in history, we had to sell subscriptions to a newspaper Robert Mugabe was desperate to crush. We needed a campaign that would break the silence by showing the world what the Zimbabwean regime wanted to keep quiet. Fittingly, the medium of photojournalism would become a powerful tool for advertising a newspaper brand that embodied free speech.