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LeadSA & MySchool problematic

14 January 2013, 18:35

When #GoodBranding goes wrong Should Branding objectives overshadow the Social Benefit they claim is their Objective.

I’m a big fan of #GoodBranding – which is defined by its need to resolve social challenges by providing support and endorsements to the campaign or projects pursued by the Brand. These campaigns marry what are seemingly boring CSI programs and bring them to life through marketing and audience participation. Two of South Africa’s most compelling has to be Woolworth’s MySchool program & PRIMEDIA’s LeadSA.

History of LeadSA

LeadSA campaign calls on South Africans to respect the country’s laws and lead by example, was launched in 2010. LeadSA is the brain child of Primedia Broadcasting and is supported by Independent Newspapers. The campaign aims to encourage action and reminds every South African to challenge negative perceptions.

In many respects this has been a groundbreaking program for the brands involved. ?Since December 2010, just under 150 000 South Africans visited www.potholebrigade.co.za, over 13 000 reports have been logged and, approximately 63 000 litres of bitumen and 719.25 tons of aggregate was used. This is a landmark achievement for The Dial Direct Pothole Brigade

?CrimeLine has resulted in many arrests and tip offs that help police to solve and prevent crime

?Partnering with other corporates and NGOs

?Inspiring South Africans to make a difference and to be heroes in their own lives

?And countless stories of heroes and recognition programmes.

History of MySchool

According to the MySchool website, the programme was established in 1999 by a Johannesburg based parent who wanted to help his child’s school raise funds. In 2001 Woolworths bought the company and are currently main partner however the two companies operate as separate entities. “The programme solely focused on providing individuals with the opportunity to support their local School every time they shopped, but expanded to assist “Villages” and “Planets” due to the vast and growing need in South Africa, hence the programme is called MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet.”

The MySchool has been wildly successful and currently raises R36 million a year through shoppers who shop at Woolworths and some select partner Engen Quickshop, Reggie’s, ToysRus, Jack’s paint, Supaquik, Altech Netstar &Waltons

But wait a minute…

This should be the end of this story yay for Woolies and Primedia brands. But because MySchool & LeadSA are social initiatives there is a further question to ask.. Are the brand objectives hampering the Social objectives?

The Marketing & Brand Argument

Before we proceed any further let’s put the marketing argument square on the table. No I’m not suggesting that these are not brilliant marketing and branding strategies with a good social angle. I’m saying these brand exercises that have produced some goodwill, heroic actions, great partnerships etc. And in fact I think programs are well targeted in terms of the target market of the owners of the brands involved. So put it out of you mind that I’m missing the Brand strategy.

That being said I can’t help but wonder whether? Would we not have impacted the country more by opening up the program to the majority of the Country. You know the other 90% of the population who don’t belong to the Exclusive middle class club who make a miserly 8% of the population.

Let just say that the programs were really about changing society, then it would have occurred to someone that the audience coverage is less than adequate in terms of reaching the goal of wide spread change in society.

 Reaching South Africans Primedia’s radio footprint for example targets similar narrow upper end and middle class families and individuals with largely white leaning. The Saarf RAMs report from May 2012 reports show that:

Radio Audience numbers

-Talk702 621 000

-56.7 Cape Talk 147 000

-Highveld 1,460, 000

-K.FM 94.5 1,009,000

This media spread represents about a reach of approx. 3 million individuals. If you had to add just 4 stations that are popular with the majority of South Africans, you could add a total 20 million listeners and begin to speak to South Africans and not a section of society.

Radio Audience numbers

-Ukhosi FM 7,300, 000 million

-Umhlobo Wenene 4,085,000

-Metro FM 6,482,000

-Motshweding FM 3,180,000

The same case can be made about the MySchool initiative and its limited reach, sure Shoprite, Pick N Pay, Spar etc. would help the program to raise way more that R36 million a year and also speed the rate of support provided to the existing 9000 beneficiaries.

Goodwill Gap –

Them and Us The difference between 3 million people and 20 million intended or not represents a goodwill gap. The danger in the sheer size of this goodwill gap is that it develops a situation in which, 1. Some people are reduced to recipients of goodwill of the privileged and 2. secondly are excluded from sharing the same message and call to action with other South Africans. thats how you breed “them and us” syndrome.

The Question should Brands be bigger than Social achieving good I guess the question I’m asking is whether it’s justified to put singular Brand objectives ahead of the broader societal benefits that can be accrued by embracing the whole of South Africa. The mistake most companies make is to treat social projects like normal communications; they imagine that people forget social experiences like they forget branded product messages.

Nobody will ever forget that Primedia were pioneers in the campaign and there is no inherent risk in opening up to other media spaces.

The Questions are Woolies and Primedia willing to do more by working with others for the greater good of us all !


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