Our team (alongside Dwayne Johnson) had been following UFC fighter Themba Gorimbo on his journey to becoming a UFC fighter. Inspired by his story and his heart, our team strategized for months how to give back to him in a major way. Our main goal was to create a highly compelling piece, supported by surrounding social beats, that inspired users of all ages across the globe through Dwayne's following of over 500M+ users.
The goal here was to ground this coverage in emotion, highlighting Themba's incredible story, but also walking users through an inspiring road to moving to the USA, providing clean water to his village in Zimbabwe, and working relentlessly to create a stable life for himself and his family in the states.
We faced challenges in the planning and execution of this piece, including having to location scout and research in secret, and logistically plan with multiple parties and individuals, in order for this to truly be executed as a genuine surprise.
We were presented with a small window of time in which Themba was not training, and Dwayne could fly down to Miami briefly to be present for the surprise. There were two elements to the surprise which each commanded their own plans and strategy, including Dwayne showing up to Themba's training gym, as well as surprising Themba with his new house.
Once the surprise happened, iPhone footage from other users in the gym and general fans who recognized Dwayne began surfacing online and going viral. We were able to expedite the edit process and corresponding social support in a matter of hours, to get ahead of the media coverage and make sure that the full story was told properl, turning around this 10-minute piece in a shortened window.
The piece launched to considerable press coverage, with hits on all major network morning shows and articles from major international news organizations.
On Dwayne's socials, the piece gained over a million views on YouTube in less than 24 hours, with posts surrounding the surprise surpassing well over 100M impressions. The content also instigated over 250,000 shares on Instagram, showing users were inspired by the story and wanted to share the feel-good content with their family/friends.
With the main purpose of this piece being to shine a light on Themba's heart and story, Themba gained over 300,000 followers on his Instagram alone following the press/social coverage of the event, and has given him a large community of support, love and encouragement from across the world.