Mobile operator’s push for soccer passion


With the launch of its new soccer platform called Push iPassion, South African mobile operator Vodacom plans to reach the sport’s complete supporter base of 12 million fans.

While the initial Push iPassion communication has focused on Vodacom’s involvement with the Premier Soccer League (PSL), the platform will extend across all its other soccer sponsorships – Bafana Bafana, the Vodacom League, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs – for several years.

Draftfcb Johannesburg’s creative team of executive creative director Grant Jacobsen; creative director Neo Mashigo; copywriter Mohlalifi Lentsoane; and art directors Archie Malinga and Justice Mukheli were tasked to create a dialogue between fans and their teams, and to use soccer as an emotive link to Vodacom’s value portfolio.

Push iPassion broke with two television commercial extravaganzas: one each for the two clubs Vodacom supports, both intended to inspire the teams’ supporters to step up the game when it comes to showing their passion for their team.

Shot by Egg Films over four days in Soweto, Katlehong and Germiston, the ads show fans from each of the two teams Vodacom sponsors realising that all fans – soccer, rugby, cricket – are beginning to look the same. They call on their fellow supporters to develop a new look for soccer, and their team, that communicates their passion for the game. 

“A critical insight driving the creative development of Push iPassion is that African soccer is different,’ said Jacobsen. “In many ways, it exhibits all the traits of Vodacom’s personality – quirky, funny, adventurous, and larger-than-life. And it is proudly African: it is “boer maak ‘n plan’ enterprising, it doesn’t try to mimic or copy European football.’

In the Kaizer Chiefs ad, three fans watch a tourist bus pulling up at a soccer venue. As Chinese tourists pour out of the bus decked out in supporters gear, the die-hards lament that what was once their unique way of celebrating their team has been taken over. But, the ring leader has a plan and we watch him and his cohorts as they travel around the township enlisting support and creating their “new look’. It is only on match day that the full magnificence of his plan is revealed. The Kaizer Chiefs fans have gone Native Indian but they’ve done so in African soccer style.

Similarly, watching rugby fans in the township, the Pirates supporters experience the same feeling: all supporters look the same – no matter the sport. They put their zany plan in action and match day sees them launch a black and white pirate ship which leads a progression of zombies and skeletons to the venue.

“I’m exceptionally proud of the team that created these ads,’ said Vodacom Managing Executive Marketing, Enzo Scarcella. “They are vibrant, rich with detail and humorous. Every time I watch them, I see new things, understand a little more about the fan and the passion he or she has for the game and their team. I’m certain they will inspire South African soccer players everywhere to take their devotion to the game to a new level.’

“There’s also a unifying element to the television ad that we think will resonate with all soccer fans,’ added Jacobsen. “It’s the sound track – we elected to utilise the signature tune broadcast in all stadiums after a goal is scored.’

According Scarcella, there were several challenges facing the company on the “soccer field’ when it came to developing the strategy.

“Firstly, South Africa has just hosted the most successful FIFA Soccer World Cup ever, the biggest sporting event in the world. How were we to take that momentum and carry it forward into local soccer? How were we to go from a large, global event to a local one, particularly when fans could be all “soccered-out?’

“In addition, our “biggest supporter of South African supporters’ positioning has become generic. How were we to do this in a unique and ownable way, such as we had done with Player 23?

“These were two of the challenges we and the strategic team at Draftfcb Johannesburg grappled with before distilling the situation concisely as follows: as Vodacom expands its business from voice-via-cellular to total communications, the opportunities to connect fans to the game keeps expanding.

“This is where Vodacom can make a meaningful difference – more connections, more passion. And, as Vodacom expands those connections and the passion, it brings more and more fans into the game,’ he said.

The very thorough through-the-line campaign includes broadcast elements such as stings and squeeze backs, print and outdoor. The agency’s experiential resource also developed on-the-ground activations including a fan fun day concept which will be rolled out during the season.


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