Entertainment > Innovation in Entertainment




Silver Cannes Lions
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We created our own drama told entirely on WhatsApp in collaboration with one South Africa's top TV drama writers. The audience followed the fictional Langa family from Soweto's WhatsApp group. Messages were delivered (via broadcast lists) to the audience in real-time as if the family were having a genuine conversation in texts, emojis, images, voice notes and videos.

The story showed how tradition and modern life clashed as the family's relationships were tested by lack of money to bury their father according to all of their wishes. Many of themes explored would be very familiar to South Africa's emerging middle-class consumers such as: the financial burden falling on younger generations; the importance of traditional values and the differences between generations.

A supporting campaign ran across social media, radio and OOH to build an audience.


The Uk’Shona Kwelanga drama itself played out on WhatsApp, and was supported by an multi-channel media strategy which used radio stations, billboards, PR, and social media to drive sign ups.

Once signed up, our audiences received messages throughout the day (each day was seen as an "episode") as our characters interacted and the funeral drama played out. Using WhatsApp proved technically challenging - the experience was achieved by using broadcast lists to create a stream of content that couldn’t be interrupted by user comments. Community managers responded to all audience comments and queries (which were only visible to them not the wider audience).

The campaign ran over six weeks. Users received content as if it was being sent from the characters in real-time over seven days. Multiple broadcast lists were set-up to allow users to sign up at any point over the campaign period and receive the full story.


In terms of engagement, the objective of 10 000 people signing up for the drama was exceeded by 367%, with 46 700 sign ups. 93% of registrations completed the entire drama - a drama that incorporated 20 minutes of content in a world where 15 seconds is considered an achievement - resulting in 603 days worth of total consumed content. The campaign also generated R11 632 718 worth of earned media (+165% on target) with an 87% ROI.

In terms of business results, Sanlam sold 21 400 new funeral plans, 320% over the campaign target of 5 100 new policies - during campaign period. Sanlam’s share of the funeral market grew by 3% vs industry leaders such as Old Mutual and Liberty who both lost market share.

All this was achieved on a media budget of R11.3m million which represented 1% of the category spend between April and November 2017.


Sanlam’s Uk’Shona Kwelanga WhatsApp drama series was unparalleled in that it was the first time that this social messaging platform had been used to host a drama series. It pioneers an entirely new form of dramatic content (multimedia episodic content within WhatsApp).

The campaign has been featured as an example of branded content innovation in Contagious magazine (and made their Most Contagious list for 2018), and used as an example of messaging innovation at Facebook's US headquarters.


Our audience comprised of South African urban adults (25-49 years old), with families, earning between R8 000 and R25 000. Financially stressed and stretched, these individuals are acutely aware of being a financial burden to their families - which is particularly evident when it comes to funeral arrangements.

To reach them, we employed a strategy that took into account where they spend most of their time - on WhatsApp, the largest social messaging platform for this audience.

To support awareness of our hero WhatsApp drama, we launched a promotional campaign to build an audience through traditional media, PR and social media. At the end of each episode on WhatsApp, audiences were served an ad for the funeral policy.

Effectively we created our own sponsored entertainment property and then introduced ads at appropriate points in the user experience.


In South Africa, burying a loved one with dignity is of extreme cultural importance and funeral policies are therefore considered essential.

As a result, the funeral market is highly saturated. 80% of consumers already own a policy, and numerous competitors (including traditional insurers, banks, cellphone companies and retailers) offer funeral products. Added to this, Sanlam’s funeral plans have no inherent advantage over those offered by their competitors, many of whom invest in significant marketing support. Consequently, Sanlam is a small fish in a very big pond, and delivering a differentiated message proved increasingly difficult.

Our brief was to build awareness and credibility around Sanlam’s My Choice Funeral Plan by highlighting the importance of proper funeral cover.

Our campaign objectives were to increase consideration within the entry level market, drive engagement, drive a 15% increase in sales via direct channels YOY, and ultimately increase Sanlam’s share of the funeral market.

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