International Agency of the Year Runner-up: TBWA Hunt Lascaris

Posted on January 24, 2011 | Category: Politics; Business, Sport –

LONDON ( — TBWA Hunt Lascaris’ goal is “to be the first world-class agency out of Africa,” and when its campaign for The Zimbabwean newspaper won more awards than any other in 2010, it looked like that ambition might finally be realized.

A consistent hallmark of the Omnicom Group-owned South African shop is that it doesn’t just create impressive ads, but campaigns people can feel good about — whether the agency is transforming a puny budget into a world-class effort to help a persecuted newspaper or using the World Cup to foster a sense of community with a giant Adidas soccer jersey across the whole country.

Adidas, keen to capitalize on World Cup opportunities, was already the maker of South Africa’s bright yellow official team jersey. So the company created the world’s largest football shirt, which TBWA Hunt Lascaris took on a six-month, 300-stop tour of South Africa. A quarter of a million people turned up to sign the giant yellow jersey, meet players and join in events, creating a lot of content for social-networking sites — and the jersey tour even got a weekly slot on the country’s biggest TV station. The agency was also behind the “Yellow Shirt Friday” movement, encouraging people to wear their team colors to work once a week. Even Parliament joined in.

TBWA Hunt Lascaris estimated revenue grew by 21% in 2010, and operating profits were up by 30%. Local new-business wins included restaurant chain Giramundo and South Africa’s legendary cane spirit Distell.

The award-winning Zimbabwean newspaper campaign came to the aid of neighboring Zimbabwe’s only independent newspaper after it was outlawed by the country’s ruler, Robert Mugabe, and forced into exile in South Africa. With inflation running at 132 billion percent in Zimbabwe and the government printing one hundred trillion dollar notes, TBWA Hunt Lascaris printed posters on Zimbabwean money that had become worthless. Using lines like “It’s cheaper to print this on money than on paper” and “Thanks to Mugabe this money is wallpaper,” TBWA’s efforts increased hits to the newspaper’s website by 361% and sales of the paper outside Zimbabwe by 276%.

And the most astonishing part? It did it all on a $7,500 budget.

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