What the brand needed

The Green Door Women’s Shelter is a registered non-profit organisation that offers temporary shelter, emotional support, and counsel to survivors of rape and gender-based violence (GBV) in the Diepsloot community. It sees, on average, 30 survivors of GBV per month, and is struggling to cope with the rising number of GBV cases.

The founder of the shelter, Brown Lekekela, has dedicated his life to adding his voice, time and finances to the GBV pandemic after witnessing decades of injustice towards women in his community. He believes that culture has not groomed men to be a safe haven for women, and our country’s traditional proverbs only add to why men view women the way they do.

The proverbs

Zulu/Xhosa: Wathint’ abafazi, wathinta imbokodo – You strike women, you strike a rock.
(Why is a woman’s strength based on how much she can endure in life?)
Rewritten proverb: Wathint’ abafazi, wathinta isizwe – You strike women, you strike a nation.

Setswana: Mosadi o tshwannwa ke opelwa mabogo – A wife is seen by using her hands, doing chores and always being busy, like an ape.
Rewritten proverb: Mosadi tshwene a shapeliwa matsogo – A wife is seen by being praised in her marital home.

Afrikaans: ’n Ou bok hou van jong blare – An old goat likes young leaves. (Old men like young girls.)
Rewritten proverb: ‘n Ou bok moet jong blare sterker laat groei – An old goat must leave young leaves so that they can grow stronger. (Speaks to nurturing young girls instead of using them.)

English: A silenced woman is a gift from God.
Rewritten proverb: A silenced woman is an insult to God.

Insights and execution

As part of our Responsible Social Marketing, we called upon ‘cancel culture’ to change the parts of South Africa’s culture that demean women by editing antiquated, problematic proverbs and phrases that South Africans were ‘raised’ on. We wanted Mzansi to see these proverbs and become a part of the conversation that will change the state of GBV in South Africa, while also generating financial, clothing and grocery donations for Green Door.

This resulted in the concept of the hashtags:
#RewriteOurProverbs to #WriteOffGBV and support the #GreenDoorWomensShelter

We approached the campaign from a multi-tiered perspective, using the easiest places to generate conversation with people that would relate to the plight on a personal level as well as donate and support the shelter, in turn creating brand awareness and financial aid for the charity.

The marketing tiers:
• Social media discussions with influencers
• Out-of-home (OOH) media
• Additional PR support

As we were working pro bono and receiving pro bono aid from partners, we started by approaching OOH companies for free space for the campaign.

We managed to get strong support from the following companies: SB Outdoor, District Digital, Tractor Outdoor, Primedia Outdoor and Keys Communications. A total of 13 large-scale digital billboards, 18 taxi rank TV locations and one static billboard were donated.

We combined this with a painted mural in the heart of the Diepsloot community.

The billboards were in numerous areas, namely Fourways (close to the shelter), Centurion, Bedfordview, Woodmead, Sandton (Gautrain Station), Soweto, Tembisa, Mamelodi, Khayelitsha and Mdantsane.

The results

Over the course of two months, we received an immense outpouring of assistance from companies and individuals who connected to the messaging. This was evident with the many financial donations to the Green Door shelter as well as sanitary products and grocery donations from many members of the public. Heartfelt contributions came in from civilians who would either drive to the shelter or drop goods off at our offices.

Members of the public were shocked to hear the translations of the proverbs, their meanings and to see how widespread the toxicity towards women really was. The real success was measured through real conversations that started on social media, with some women sharing their GBV stories publicly for the first time or generating an outcry that spread widely across the social space.

OOH companies were incredibly generous towards this campaign, only asking for production costs in some cases, with others even picking up their own production costs. We saw fast turnaround times and longer than agreed upon flight times, averaging two to three months of exposure on what was initially a one-month campaign.

Total value of free OOH exposure

  • Keys Communications: R30,000
  • Primedia Outdoor – Township screens: R200,000
  • Primedia Outdoor – Taxi rank TV package: R235,000
  • Tractor Outdoor: R45,000
  • District Digital: R100,000
  • SB Outdoor: R100,000
  • Total: R710,000

No influencer was paid to wear the proverbs t-shirt and carry the message to the public. We had great feedback in posts, with some reaching as high as 800 likes per post.

Unfortunately, as most influencers were not using business accounts, we could not pull accurate data.

Estimated reach of social media drive: 600 000 accounts

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