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Picture: 123RF/DENNIZN
Picture: 123RF/DENNIZN

How does a car manufacturer hack an internationally popular navigation app to provide a previously unconsidered SA market with unique tech aimed at keeping them safe on the road?

Enter Nissan Shwii — a downloadable series of Zulu-language audio commands compatible for use on the Waze navigation platform. 

Waze is used by more than 800,000 drivers in SA, or 100,000 daily, and offers real-time traffic reports and optimal route selections in 98 language options — including Arabic, Mandarin, “Boy Band” and “Batman”.

Zulu, though the most widely spoken language in SA (by 20.6% of the population), is not on offer.    

“We wanted to change that in a way that would place the Nissan brand in culture and unlock potent value for them,” says Carl Willoughby, creative lead on the project and executive creative director at TBWA\Hunt Lascaris, an agency known for its disruptive work. 

“Nissan is renowned for its intelligent mobility that helps drivers navigate obstacles on the road with confidence so they can react accordingly and in time. Our hack does the same thing, but in Zulu, to help our local drivers avoid danger without the need to first translate.”  

Shwii started with TBWA\Hunt Lascaris hacking the “personal voice recorder” feature on Waze to create a series of 41 key voice-assist navigation commands in Zulu. This resulted in a shareable link accessed via the Waze app from which users can download Zulu commands in male or female voice options.  

Tessa Cooke, general manager for marketing communications at Nissan SA, says: “Shwii is an extension of what our brand stands for. Not only does it drive innovation and the functional use of technology, but it also has local relevance, leveraging the vibrancy of SA’s cultures in a disruptive way.

“This is a testament to our brand ethos of ‘innovation that excites’, and we can’t wait for what the future holds, including the rollout of other language options on Shwii.” 

Last week, Nissan Shwii and the associated campaign won TBWA\Hunt Lascaris its second radio and audio Grand Prix in two years at the prestigious South African Loerie Awards. 

Willoughby says: “Shwii has been two years in the making, and we couldn’t be more excited about the work or our Loeries win. We pride ourselves in bringing relatable, culturally relevant and brave campaigns to life.

“It costs $75,000 [about R1.1m] to add a new voice to Waze; we made it happen for under $5,000, which wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment of our phenomenal team including Sanele Ngubane from Samish, Thule Ngcese and Louis Enslin from Produce Sound.” 

TBWA\Hunt Lascaris business director Mike Di Terlizzi says: “While we work on a global piece of business, we are always conscious, along with Nissan SA, of our duty to create communication that resonates with our diverse local audience.

“Our Loeries win proves that being given the opportunity to be creative and innovative by a trusting client leads to market-leading work that is in line with themes seen in this year’s radio and audio category at the Cannes awards.”  

The Nissan Shwii campaign was also awarded two gold craft Loeries for direction and sound design; a silver award for the use of tech in audio; and a bronze award in the media innovation category.

Datsun, Nissan’s entry-level sister brand, also won a campaign silver in the online film category.  

Click to download the Waze language commands:  

This article was paid for by TBWA\Hunt Lascaris.

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