Marketing nirvana is when a positively oriented social media post goes viral. That’s exactly what happened when a group of students created a hilarious video showing how Woolworths’s branded water changed their accents.

What became known as the #WooliesWaterChallenge has inspired others to put their own unique spin on the challenge.

The group behind the video, Qhama Sinkila, Gomolemo Nkwana, Banele Moss and Itumeleng Moboko, say they did not make the #WooliesWaterChallenge video to engage  with the brand. “We just randomly make videos,” explained Sinkila  at the recent Sunday Times 2019 Gen Next conference, held in partnership with HDI Youth Consultancy.

The video was posted around midnight and by morning had garnered millions of impressions, prompting Woolworths to suggest collaborating with the group in the future. The video soon elicited a number of parody responses, including one by a white Johannesburg resident, whose speech morphed into perfectly fluent Zulu after drinking the water. Using a quote from the original video, the retailer encourages consumers to “keep it going; keep it flowing”.

The appeal of the video was its artlessness and the fact that the brand clearly had not paid the group to produce the skit.

The group behind the #WooliesWaterChallenge says the success of this video clearly illustrates that brands should not restrict themselves to partnering only with famous people, because not all famous people are influential.

The big take-out

The #WooliesWaterChallenge illustrates the power of a great idea.

This is their message to marketing managers: develop strategies to get people to love your brand, be inspirational and make consumers want to connect with the brand. And the way to do this doesn’t always mean using celebrities.

When brands do decide to use influencers, they should be more focused on how these influencers engage with their followers. They should also pay attention to the quality of their interactions with their followers rather than look at follower numbers.

When choosing who to follow on Instagram, young people are influenced by what the influencer stands for and how authentic he or she is, says Nono Ditshego, a member of the HDI Youth Marketeers junior board of directors.