Carling Black Label Cup “Be the Coach” mobile campaign – innovative, inclusive and effective

You don’t have to be a sports fan to appreciate the genius of this ground-breaking campaign from Brandtone and Ogilvy South Africa. Carling Black Label, a beer from South African Breweries (SAB), used mobile voting to allow supporters to select the team and make live substitutions in a huge South African soccer game. “Be the Coach” picked up Best mobile advertising and marketing campaign at the GSMA Global Mobile Awards 2012 – mobiThinking will be surprised if this is its only award this year.

First the video case study. Then the description of how the campaign worked from Brandtone.

Description of the campaign from Lynne Gordon, general manager Brandtone South Africa:

Carling Black Label “Be the Coach” is an integrated campaign executed in South Africa, with mobile playing a central role. The campaign originated in a simple truth about South African men – Carling Black Label understands that men are passionate about soccer, and that every fan believes his sporting expertise, shouted from couches and the stands, goes unheard to the detriment of the game. This insight drove Carling Black Label to give men a chance to live their dream – and become the coach for Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. Brandtone partnered with SAB to develop a customized solution that would allow every fan to be the coach by buying Carling Black Label.

The Carling Black Label “Be the Coach” campaign posed Brandtone with a challenge to maximize consumer engagement via mobile in new and innovative ways. How could we maximize reach – making the campaign accessible to every consumer – but at the same time maximize brand engagement? In South Africa, where only 16 percent of mobiles are smart devices, the challenge was to bring the game to the consumer without relying on mobile internet or apps available only to a select few.

To deliver on the challenge, Brandtone leveraged technologies available on every consumer’s mobile handset – USSD [Unstructured Supplementary Service Data], IVR [Interactive Voice Recording] and SMS – in innovative and engaging ways to create a brand new consumer experience. USSD was chosen for its familiarity and accessibility to the target consumer – 74 percent of South African mobile consumers have used USSD in the last month to send a Please call me message, and prepaid consumers use it to top-up airtime in a quick, affordable way. However, we also wanted to use the phone in new ways to create a brand experience unlike anything consumers may have tried before.

Brandtone used three familiar mobile technologies in new ways:
USSD allowed consumers to enter a code from Carling Black Label bottles and select their team, free of charge.
IVR was used to engage and excite consumers ahead of the game – frequent entrants received an IVR call from their chosen team’s captain, generating massive buzz in shebeens [bars] across South Africa.
SMS allowed real-time participation during the derby – fans could choose a player to substitute off the field and vote by SMS.
The familiarity and accessibility of these technologies led to breakthrough levels of participation in the campaign, while the new application of these technologies demonstrates new possibilities for brands to engage meaningfully with every consumer in South Africa.

Alongside mobile, the Carling Black Label campaign was supported by an extensive activation, digital, PR and event plan executed by a talented team of agencies under the leadership of the team at SAB. Ogilvy Cape Town did all ATL media as well as activation, and other agency partners delivered event leadership, PR etc. In the digital space, Ogilvy translated Carling Black Label “Be the Coach” into a Facebook page and mobile site – – which provided consumers with news on teams, updates on votes and so on, integrated in real time to our USSD voting platform. As the agency of record, Ogilvy Cape Town played a central role in the execution of the integrated campaign, while Brandtone had full leadership of the mobile execution, each working directly with the client at SAB.

The campaign generated 11,038,605 entries via USSD – a breakthrough level compared with all previous campaigns, and maybe even the largest mobile promotion in South Africa to date. The average consumer demonstrated very high engagement, entering over 18 times to select their team and “be the coach”. Feedback from fans via Facebook captures the enthusiasm for the promotion – “The idea we shared together, fun we had, not forgetting the airtime I won. I wish there could be Carling Black Label promo every day … Black Label u rock”

Brand and sales results are strong, with research metrics demonstrating high engagement, excitement and participation, increased association with brand attributes, and sales ahead of category trends. SAB marketing director Ian Penhale’s feedback: “Extraordinary – one of the best activations I have ever seen – if this doesn’t bear fruit nothing will – I was honestly blown away!”

Brandtone believes that the Carling Black Label Cup defines the successful use of traditional mobile in new and innovative ways. While rich digital technologies provide excellent brand experiences, reach remains fundamental to marketers who want their brands to access their broad demographic target markets in a meaningful way. The Carling Black Label Cup went beyond traditional use of mobile, while retaining the reach of mass technologies. The result – soccer was brought to the fans in a brand new, personal way via their mobile phone, changing the way the game is experienced for millions of fans.

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