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From the 14th Annual Shorty Awards

Ayoba Sudan

Winner in Localization


Sudan digital is a pure-play digital marketing agency based in Khartoum, Sudan. Where’s Sudan? It’s south of Egypt, north of Ethiopia, it is the 3rd largest country in Africa, and boasts more pyramids than our northern neighbours. It is where the white and blue Niles meet, where the Kush empire was formed and where humanity sprang from. It's also home to our humble agency Sudan Digital. Sudan Digital operates more like a social enterprise. In a country with a 40% graduate unemployment rate, we focus our entire recruitment effort on hiring graduates exclusively, putting them through 6-12 months of intensive training before having them work on our global client base. We pride ourselves on being an agency that makes a difference, not just a profit. 

Our client, ayoba, is a super app containing games, chat, music, news, entertainment and payment services. It is one of the fastest-growing apps in Africa with more than 12 million MAUs and operates in 22 different countries in Africa. In May 2021, the ayoba team in South Africa reached out to us to help drive awareness, engagement and usage of ayoba in Sudan. At the time, they had 

They essentially didn’t exist, and our objective was to change that. 


Strategy and Execution

Our strategy for ayoba Sudan was hyper localization, a massive amount of content, integration of multiple channels and the use of micro-influencers. Over the six months between May 2021 and October 2021, we created and distributed over 1,000 pieces of content. Ran competitions, built brand partnerships with universities and companies, engaged and helped to grow 15 micro-influencers and built the ayoba Sudan brand from the ground up on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tik Tok. We ran competitions through Facebook Live, created viral trends on TikTok and most importantly, drove downloads and engagement of the ayoba app across all of our channels.

One of the significant challenges facing any digital business in Sudan is the lack of availability of paid ads. Due to over two decades of sanctions, Sudan has not had access to tools and technologies that the rest of the world takes for granted, including Facebook ads, Google ads, and alike. Essentially, Sudan is in the Digital Dark ages. 

The challenge that this causes is unique. Image a world where:

Essentially, it’s like working in 2006. However, with these great challenges come greater opportunities:

Working closely with our client, we adopted an organic "learn and adapt" strategy. At times we would post 5 or 6 pieces of content per day on various channels to enable us to learn how each algorithm can be best manipulated to drive organic reach. We followed and created local trends on almost every topic and worked daily to create content that piggybacked off those trends. Everything we did aimed to create localized experiences that resonated with the target market. It was, and still is a constant struggle. Our teams often work late into the night, ensuring that we maximize trending opportunities. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, but we always learn. 


The results surprised even us. Over six months we:

Did I mention we did all of this without using social paid ads?

We took ayoba from an entirely unknown brand to a household name. We manufactured new use cases, and now ayoba is used for various things across the country. Ayoba Sudan is now the 4th most downloaded app in the country. 


Video for Ayoba Sudan

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Sudan Digital, Ayoba


Entry Credits