Sylvester Chauke: Modelled his own agency on the best management examples from his career. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS
Sylvester Chauke: Modelled his own agency on the best management examples from his career. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS

DNA Brand Architects recently won the SA Campaign of the Year prize at the Prism Awards for a five -part digital series it had created for Lion Lager. In response to the challenge of reintroducing an “old” brand to a young audience and making it relevant, this agency chose a culturally relevant concept that would resonate with the target audience: the payment of lobola.

“The series focuses on the story of a young man, Sipho, who cannot afford to pay the lobola for the young lady he wants to marry. It follows his and his family’s journey as they negotiate and navigate the lobola payment,” explains DNA Brand Architects founder Sylvester Chauke.

Lion Lager is targeted at a predominantly black audience of younger consumers, aged 25 and over. Competition for alcohol brands in this space is stiff, says Chauke, and most companies adopt an aspirational approach, with glamorous club scenes and sophisticated people.

“Typically there are lots of bling and flash around alcohol advertising. However, we wanted Lion Lager to represent something more authentic that would engage our audience in conversation and that most of them would relate to,  perhaps even understand and empathise with,” he says, adding that this approach worked well with the brand, which he describes as humble.

The big take-out

Lion Lager’s successful relaunch campaign has done extremely well for the brand, showing that a cleverly thought-out PR strategy that resonates with consumers on a cultural level can have a major impact on the bottom line

There were no events or television commercials to relaunch Lion Lager onto the market; rather, a purely digital campaign featured an online five-part series with a WhatsApp element to reach a younger market of consumers.

“We chose not to go the traditional route, but to create a series we hoped would hook our audience. We wanted to communicate in way that was not flashy or condescending,” says Chauke.

The accolade of having produced SA Campaign of the Year at the Prism Awards has not been the only measure of success for Lion Lager and DNA Brand Architects. Most importantly – and this is perhaps the best business case for the campaign –  was the 30% increase in sales, Chauke reports, not to mention solid media coverage in all the right places and the creation of an online community from a nonexistent base.

Central to the success of the campaign was the willingness of the client to venture into new territories and invest in thinking a little differently. “PR remains a powerful tool for marketers, providing clients with cost-effective, innovative campaigns that translate directly into return on investment,” Chauke believes.