Ogilvy: Cadbury’s In Our Own Words

A caregiver helping a child to read

Ogilvy: Cadbury’s In Our Own Words

Transforming literacy rates with South Africa’s first ever user-generated library

South Africa has 11 official languages, but during the period of Apartheid, English and Afrikaans were enforced in schools. Despite political changes in 1990 that within four years led to the end of Apartheid, today African languages still only account for 2% of the children’s books published in South Africa. This is in spite of the fact that only 20% of the population speak English or Afrikaans as their first language. All of this is against a backdrop of low literacy rates, with South African having some of the lowest rates in the world, ranking last in a study of 50 countries that compared the reading ability of nine and ten-year-olds in 2016.

Based on the insight that being able to read for meaning in one’s home language is a foundational step for literacy and to support child literacy in the country, Ogilvy South Africa worked with Cadbury to call on South Africans’ generosity, in line with the brand’s identity. Through a mobile-first campaign, South Africans were asked to translate just one word into their own language, which was then converted into children’s literature. In total, translations were made available in nine African languages, which were then converted into unique stories by local authors. This created South Africa’s first ever user-generated library.

Using the bank of translated vocabulary, Cadbury was also able to adapt its media strategy to target people in their own language, driving them back to the multi-lingual library of African children’s literature. For those unable to access the virtual library, Ogilvy South Africa also created recorded read-along versions of the stories to increase accessibility.

Thanks to the giving nature of South Africans, over 500 unique stories were generated resulting in 52,000 printed copies available for children around the country. In total, the campaign reached 60 million people and drove an 11% increase in gross sales value for Cadbury, as well as a 6.6% volume growth and a 10% increase in market share.

The campaign was also recognised with two Bronze Awards for Integrated Campaign and Digital Social Media at the Loeries Awards 2022.