"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 acknowledgment 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 adds.
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).
It was 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.
The campaign began with the name and pronunciations on Coca-Cola packs but extended 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," Gordhan says.
"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 adds.
To ensure 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 non-academic phonetic system.
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 Zulu.
People in the Eastern Cape, where Xhosa is mostly spoken, would see Sotho or Setswana billboards. In other words, people had a chance to learn a name they didn’t know.
The campaign captured South Africa’s imagination, with people generating and sharing their own name stories. A language teacher requested permission to use the campaign content as a teaching aid in her classroom, and the country’s 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, and 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]."
For more information, visit www.fcb.co.za. You can also follow FCB Joburg on Facebook or on Twitter.