Local lads hijack a website, fleece Woolies and win a gold Loerie

2010-10-13 00:00

THREE friends, all of whom hail from the KZN midlands, recently won South Africa’s most coveted advertising award: a Gold Loerie.

The award is in recognition of their gutsy “hijacking” of a Woolworths website that turned into the most successful viral campaign of the year.

Shane Dryden, a former pupil of Maritzburg College, and Hilton College old boys Paul Galatis and Andrew Smith are business partners in the successful online premium kitchen tool store, Yuppiechef.co.za.

On January 31, Yuppiechef founder Dryden spotted a typo in Woolworths’ national Valentine’s Day campaign. Woolworths had mistakenly left the ‘s’ off the end of the web address that appeared on all the marketing material.

This mistake directed people to www.woolieslovebird.co.za (without an ‘s’) instead of ‘woolieslovebirds.co.za’.

When he discovered that the advertised web address was still available for registration, Dryden registered it and redirected all traffic to the Yuppiechef website.

Then he created a ransom note which was posted on the website.

It read: “Woolies, we’ve got your lovebirds and if you want them back unscathed, you have to match rand for rand what any Yuppiechef fan donates to Soil for Life [Yuppiechef’s charity of choice for 2010] between now and 14 February or the Lovebirds get it.”

Yuppiechef then sent out e-mail messages to its 9 000 fans, encouraging them to make Woolworths pay and help raise money for the charity.

About R3,5 million in media coverage was achieved in 14 days.

The donations from Yuppiechef fans towards Soil for Life topped R100 000.

Galatis, Yuppiechef marketing director, said people were captured by the idea of a small, nimble online company taking advantage of a morsel of opportunity, while fleecing a big corporate for a good cause.

“Cheeky, we know, but we got away with it.”

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