South Africa is facing a literacy crisis. 78% of children in grade 4 are still learning to read, rather than reading to learn, indicative of the lowest levels of literacy in the world (PIRLS Study 2021). One of the causes, is that, whilst 91% of the population’s mother tongues are African languages, only 2% of children’s books are published in them. 98% of children’s books aren’t representative of African realities or available in African languages. Children are further compelled to learn exclusively in English or Afrikaans. This lack of inclusivity in cultural contexts, language and literacy education continues 27 years into South Africa’s democracy.
Cadbury, the most-loved chocolate maker in the land, with a brand purpose and positioning of “human generosity”, briefed us to apply their brand purpose to this important social mission through activations – specifically, to:
and address the need for inclusivity and improvement in literacy in children, whilst increasing brand love and sales.
This idea formed the basis of a strategy to:
Cadbury developed the #HomegrownStories Campaign and encouraged South Africans to generously share homegrown stories in any of our 11 official languages.
Whilst we knew people of all walks of life would be eager to share their homegrown stories, we faced two key challenges. Our research showed that adult literacy itself is such a challenge that most people would be too intimidated or unable to write their stories. Furthermore cost would be a barrier to people submitting them to us.
Technology became key to addressing these barriers. The Cadbury #HomegrownStories campaign leveraged storytelling innovation, utilising cutting edge mobile voice-to-text and voice note technology to make storytelling more exciting and especially accessible. Using WhatsApp, the most cost-effective, accessible instant messaging platform with the highest penetration in South Africa, Cadbury created the Homegrown Stories Bot for Whatsapp - designed to enable inclusivity in storytelling – allowing people to capture their stories, most notably through voice notes on their phones, in any of our 11 official languages, directly addressing literacy inclusivity.
The campaign performance exceeded all expectations:
Brand & Communication Impact:
We achieved our inclusivity objectives with adult participation across the spectrum of races, cultures, languages and literacy levels.
A whopping 800 New homegrown stories were published for all South Africans to read and enjoy in 11 official languages.
due to resonance and language of the stories.
The Cadbury campaign was able to go beyond awareness, to truly making a life-changing impact in the lives of our youth, starting a new-age chapter for African Storytelling showing us that there really is a Glass and a Half in everyone.