Coca-Cola app aims to help Romanians do good

In today’s socially conscious world, the urge to make a difference is steadily increasing. Yet many people don’t know how to get started making the world a better place, or where to help. And charities face their own organizational problems connecting those who want to help with those who need it. Recently launched in Romania, Coca-Cola’s Radar for Good app seeks to overcome those challenges. Users search for nearby organizations that are in need of volunteers, providing contact information and directions. The app also lets users opt in to future notifications from these organizations.

While the spirit behind the app is fantastic, if the backend process and infrastructure is not well thought out, the whole experience could easily sour. Indeed, it could do harm and become quite cumbersome to the organizations that the app seeks to help. Simply making the connection is one thing; making the right one is where the difference lies.

Insurance startup in South Africa promises premiums that keep reducing

King Price Insurance

Owning a car is practically a necessity in South Africa, although the government is trying in many ways to build a more accessible and reliable public transport system. Now with fuel prices at a record high and the introduction of electronic tolling of the highways around Johannesburg, owning a car is becoming more and more expensive. One of the first things people tend to sacrifice, and at great risk, is their vehicle insurance, whether by shopping around for cheaper insurance, jumping around from one insurer to the other or simply defaulting on their payments completely.

A new startup short-term insurer, King Price insurance, has found a way of differentiating itself: insurance premiums that are not only competitive but also decrease every month. They argue, “Why should your insurance premium stay the same when the value of your car is continuously decreasing?” Their latest campaign centers around the question “How do they do it?” and features a company “employee” who comes up with various absurd explanations as he tries to figure out how this insurer is able to offer low premiums that also get cheaper over time.

Photo Credit: King Price Insurance

Nedbank ‘My Financial Life’ tool helps curb South Africans’ ‘ostrich mentality’

Unlike most of the other BRIC countries, the level of financial literacy is quite low in South Africa, as evidenced by our lack of a saving culture.  According to the World Economic Forum’s 2011-12 Global Competitiveness Report, South Africa ranks 72nd in the world for its gross national savings, well behind China, which is second, India (15th) and Russia (44th). One finds that many South Africans hold a deep-seated belief that managing money is difficult—so difficult that it’s considered less stressful to put your head in the sand when it comes to all things financial than to tackle the issue head on.

This isn’t surprising, given that the South African banking industry has been notorious for making money management difficult. In the last 18 months, however, there has been a seismic shift in the industry with the realization that more value lies in helping people break through this fear. One example comes from Nedbank, one of the top four retail banks here, which launched My Financial Life, a free application that pulls together and analyzes all your financial information, then offers a snapshot view of your financial well-being. It also provides six core functions to help users analyze their behavior and manage their money in an easy-to-understand way. Tools include a net-worth calculation tool; a spend analysis function; a budgeting tool; a saving-for-a-goal feature; alerts; and a calendar view, which helps track debit orders against payments owed. The best part is that it’s available to all consumers, whether they are customers of the bank or not.

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Photo Credit: Nedbank

South Africans rally to stop rape, but radio beeps seem like too little, too late

Lead SA Stop RapeThere has been a noticeable shift in how South Africans have been addressing the country’s alarmingly high incidence of rape. It seems to have been sparked by the brutal murder in early February of a 17-year-old who was gang raped. There was a strong reaction on Twitter, and in mid-February the public reacted with a national #BlackFriday to create awareness of #StopRape. On the same day, Lead SA—an initiative from Primedia Broadcasting that encourages citizens to “stand up and lead South Africa”—partnered with four radio stations, which emitted a beep every four minutes to remind listeners of the rape crisis. DJs at the stations also used the day to talk about rape (coincidently, the conversations were heavily amplified due to the Oscar Pistorius shooting two days before).

Now, many are asking what this really achieved. Did it simply give participants the perception of making a difference, or did it actually make a difference? As columnist Chris Moerdyk put it: “I get the feeling that we are resorting to a habit that we as a nation have developed recently and that is to complain to each other about something, hear government continually ‘addressing issues,’ holding incessant talkshops, making lots of speeches, but not actually rolling their sleeves up and getting something done.” Ultimately, he says, “We all get used to it and live with it.”

Is there a role for brands to play in helping to drive change? While this is a difficult topic to wade into, marketers like Gillette in India have found ways to respond to violence against women by encouraging men to change their mindset.

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Colgate sweet-talks the sweet-toothed in their favorite aisle


With domestic sugar consumption topping 1.5 million tons annually, there’s no doubt South Africans have a sweet tooth. Added to this is the fact that 9 out of 10 children here have cavities. So Colgate recently installed clever cross-category point-of-purchase signage that gives moms permission to buy confectionary and helps assuage some of their anxiety about the consequences with the reminder: “Keep that sweet tooth healthy, head to the Oral Care aisle.”

Photo Credit:  wwarby

In South Africa, brands step in as government steps back

kfcIn the past 10 months, the Johannesburg Roads Agency has received some 42,500 complaints of potholes across the city. With government in South Africa neglecting basic services such as road repair, people are agitated and anxious—in a difficult economic climate, the last thing motorists want is the expense of repairing or buying new tires and rims.

Brands have stepped in, taking advantage of the opportunities for CSR initiatives. Kentucky Fried Chicken has donated R200,000 (about $27,000) to help fill some of the potholes in and around Johannesburg. It seems like an awfully small amount, although KFC is positioning the move as part of a “challenge to other companies to help in any way they can.”

Meanwhile the Empowerment Gateway Group, a consulting practice, started an Adopt-a-Pothole project; it is now handing off custodianship and considering bids from businesses looking for a CSR cause. The program is positioned as one that helps alleviate unemployment along with improving roads.

pointsmenOne of the more successful such initiatives is from OUTsurance, an insurance company that has teamed with police to place branded pointsmen (traffic control people) at busy intersections to help alleviate congestion. It’s a good example of how brands can strengthen their image by helping to alleviate anxiety.

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South Africa’s Nedbank lures new customers with cash

untitledkOne of South Africa’s “big four” lending institutions, Nedbank, is attempting to grow its client base by offering R750 (approximately $100) for new customers. Aptly named the “Fresh Start Account,” this targets consumers in their early twenties who have not yet formed any serious attachments to banks. When a minimum salary of R3,000 (about $450) is paid into the account, Nedbank credits it with R750 after 45 days. A “refer a friend” portion of the promotion attempts to tap into the social networks of these new consumers by offering R30,000 (just over $4,000) in a random drawing to one customer who has successfully referred a friend.

This is a good tactic by Nedbank. Not only is it providing a financial incentive for joining the bank (at a time when people really need extra cash) but it’s targeting people who will potentially stay with the bank for years and expand their product portfolio, generating revenue for Nedbank that will eventually eclipse the R750 it has paid out.

Why South Africa’s coupon-shy marketers are missing out

coupons-plus1Although redeeming coupons is a common phenomenon in the U.S. that seems to be on the increase this recession— has seen a 90 percent increase in the past three months—the concept has not taken hold in South Africa. Radio station Algoa FM in the Eastern Cape is looking to change this paradigm by encouraging listeners to download coupons from its Web site; local businesses are offering discounts on products and services. As this is a regional station, the tactic fosters a sense of community with listeners and benefits all parties involved: The station is seen as having the interests of its consumers at heart; the featured companies get free exposure; and the consumer wins through saving money.

By not offering discounts, South African marketers are missing out on a key opportunity to boost customer loyalty and retention. Whether these savings are presented in the form of loyalty schemes or coupons depends on the category and consumer, but when times improve, consumers will remember those who helped them through the tough times.

Cell C network tries to keep South Africa talking

wozaWith mobile phone penetration in South Africa at over 90 percent, a significant percentage of disposable income is spent on recharge vouchers for airtime. In response to the recession, Cell C (one of the country’s four network carriers) is rewarding subscribers with “free minutes,” based on the size of the recharge voucher purchased. The campaign, “Woza Wheneva,” invites people to come together (“woza” is the Ndebele word for “come forward”) and keep talking—even through these hard times. But while it seems to offer a great value proposition—R50.00 (approximately $7) rewards the user with 100 additional free minutes—small print on Cell C’s Web site explains that free minutes are redeemable only on calls within the network and that the number of minutes redeemable each week is limited.

This isn’t the first time Cell C has misled consumers through “information management”—last year it came under fire from the Advertising Standard Authority for advertising subscriber benefits that had been discontinued. The company is in danger of eroding its brand value if it continues to consistently over-promise and under-deliver. While this type of offer is a good move at a time when all consumers are looking for bargains, people are also much less likely to forgive and forget misleading tactics.

Coping with the recession in style

recessionista-2The car industry has been hit especially hard by the recession. As a result, manufacturers have had to become innovative in selling their wares. Volkswagen South Africa has launched a “Recessionista” campaign (they define the term as a fashionista who makes the most of the recession). Fashion and style tips are provided to ensure that “the recession doesn’t get in the way of your style.”

The main objective of the campaign is to draw attention to the low price of a new VW Citi Golf (“Recessionista rule number 1″), but users are also encouraged to enter their own tips on how to beat the recession. These are listed on the site and range from the useful (“Don’t buy books, join a library”) to the obscure (“Cut your own hair. Messy is in.”).

recessionista-1Not only does this tongue-in-cheek approach to the recession lighten up what could be a depressing subject, but by encouraging users to add their own content, VW creates a database of potential future buyers. This enables them to keep in touch with the consumers and open the channel for future dialogue.