The Zimbabwean – The Trillion Dollar Campaign

Insights, Strategy & the Idea
Our client, The Zimbabwean newspaper, has been driven into exile for reporting on how the Mugabe regime has rigged elections, crushed the opposition, caused poverty, disease and the total collapse of the economy. And now, having been exiled, the regime has slapped a 55% luxury import duty on the paper (as if freedom of speech is a luxury) that makes it unaffordable for the average Zimbabwean.
To get the paper into Zimbabwean hands, it needs to be subsidised, and our client can only do that by raising awareness and driving sales outside Zimbabwe
Describe how the campaign was launched and executed across each channel in the order of implementation
We developed a unique solution. One of the most eloquent symbols of Zimbabwe’s collapse is the Z$ trillion dollar note, a symptom of their world record inflation. This money cannot buy anything, not a loaf of bread and certainly not any advertising. But it can become the advertising. So, we turned the money into its own medium by printing our messages straight onto it .In rush-hour traffic, malls and universities millions and billions were given out one note at a time. We sent bundles of cash to captains of industry, politicians and media personalities. Wherever the Zimbabwean was sold, we put up posters made of real money. At every public place we could, we had a poster-with notes that people could detach to keep the email address. We made trillion dollar wallpaper murals and even made the world’s first billboards out of real money.
Give some idea of how successful this campaign/entry was with both client and consumer
Overnight, trillions of dollars of Zimbabwean banknotes achieved what they’d never been able to buy – real and meaningful advertising coverage. Within hours, we were in the national press. And a couple of days later, the campaign was on national television and radio. And then the internet discovered it and it spread across the world. Soon we were on the New York Times site, Yahoo news, the Huffington Post and hundreds and hundreds of websites and blogs. As the campaign continues, sales of The Zimbabwean continue to soar. In the week of the roll-out alone, the website logged over 2 million hits. More copies of The Zimbabwean than ever are crossing the border into Zimbabwe. We used Mugabe’s own creation against him.

Campaign to boost sales of the Zimbabwean using useless currency wins top award at Cannes Lions advertising festival.
by Mark Swaney,

Ad for the Zimbabwean printed on worthless banknotes. A campaign to boost sales of the Zimbabwean, a newspaper that attacked Robert Mugabe’s regime by using the troubled country’s almost worthless bank notes to make billboard adverts, has won the top award in the outdoor category at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. The campaign to promote sales of the newspaper, which is published in the UK and South Africa, used the Zimbabwean currency as an advertising medium on posters and billboards to raise awareness of the dire state of the country under Mugabe. Straplines used in the poster campaign included “Thanks to Mugabe this money is wallpaper”, “Z$250,000,000 cannot buy the paper to print this poster on”, “It’s cheaper to print this on money than on paper”, and “Fight the regime that has crippled a country”. The ads, by South African agency TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris/Johannesburg, won the Cannes Lions Grand Prix award for outdoor advertising. The Zimbabwean campaign also won a gold lion in the media category. The agency said one of the most “eloquent symbols” of the state the country is in, with rampant inflation, was to use the Zimbabwean currency. The newspaper faces a 55% “luxury import” tax to get copies into Zimbabwe making it unaffordable to most locals. To get more copies of the paper into the hands of Zimbabweans it has to be subsidised, which is done by raising awareness and sales outside the country. The Zimbabwean newspaper, which carries the slogan A Voice for the Voiceless, targets Zimbabweans living in the UK and the 2 million living in Southern Africa, mainly South Africa and Botswana. Wilf Mbanga, the founder, editor and publisher of the Zimbabwean, lives in Britain after being forced to leave Zimbabwe when he was branded an enemy of the people.

Advertising Agency: TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris, Johannesburg
Executive Creative Director: Damon Stapleton
Creative Director: Nicholas Hulle
Art Directors: Shelley Smoler and Nadja Lossgott
Copywriter: Raphael Basckin


One Comment on “The Zimbabwean – The Trillion Dollar Campaign”

  1. sarahallisongeisler says:

    Reblogged this on The Elephant and the City and commented:
    Amazing ad campaign for a South African newspaper for the Zimbabwean diaspora that makes a political commentary on the Mugabe regime.

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