Cannes Lions


FCB 1886, Johannesburg / CELL C (MOBILE NETWORK) / 2014

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Due to a lack of competition, South Africa is one of the most expensive mobile markets in the world. The two biggest networks run the show. What makes matters worse is a complete and utter ban on any form of competitive advertising. So it's pretty hard for little players like our client, Cell C, to compete. As a result, they have been publicly fighting with the other networks, accusing them of preventing competition and ripping off consumers.

The richest network then attacked us in the press by taking out a DPS in the biggest paper in the country. It was an open letter addressed to us and was filled with false claims and accusations - potentially very harmful for our brand.

Instead of replying with another ad which would

1. probably get banned by the advertising authorities AND

2. possibly alienate consumers,

we decided to win over journos (and therefore consumers) by taking a humorous approach.

We took our competitor's advert and blocked out some of their words to create a more truthful message. We then sent this revised version directly to journalists the next day - digitally and as a physical print out.

39 tech and news websites, 4 radio stations and 8 newspapers covered our response. The public then filled the comments sections and spread our version socially. The Government even issued a press release. David kicked Goliath in the nuts of public opinion. And for once, we didn't get a rude letter from the advertising standards authority.


Their ad was flighted on Sunday. We sat down that afternoon and devised and implemented our plan - and responded to journos the very next day.

Our ingredients were: 1 x Kid's glue stick, a sheet of A4 paper, a pair of scissors and a high resolution camera phone.

We use this to omit words in their ad to reveal a more truthful version of the situation.


Almost $100 000 free media for almost zero investment.

Our story was covered by:

39 websites including,,,,,,

4 radio stations including KayaFM, Jacaranda

8 newspapers including The NewAge, The Witness, Beeld, Volksblad

Hundreds of retweets

Hundreds of favorable comments from the public including 'Cell C's reposnse to MTN's double-page in the Sunday Papers. ouch.', 'Holy shit, Cell C's response to MTN's letter in Sunday Times. daaaaamn son.', 'Cell C's responds to MTN's We're Guilty ad with cheeky response!' - Google 'Cell C Response Ad' to see more of them

Headlines included 'Did Cell C just hit back in the most epic way ever?', 'Hilarious response from Cell C to MTN's We're Guilty', 'Cell C pokes fun at MTN with Tippex'.

In a battle to win hearts, our client came out looking like the consumer champion and our competitors simply looked wasteful and greedy.

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