An Unprecedented Execution

At 23:30 on 1 April 2011, Don’t Look Down Convergence Agency wrapped the Vodacom Unlimited Festival, which may have included the largest live corporate brand unveiling in South African history.  Vodacom’s new corporate logo was revealed to an audience of 23 000, gathered in the name of House Music at Soweto’s Orlando Stadium, and to millions of television viewers not long after.  This spectacular production represents the Convergence Agency’s finest moment as DLD employed every dimension of its unique interdisciplinary media resource at an unprecedented scale.

Work began months prior as DLD aligned itself with Trinergy Brand Connectors, Vodacom’s experiential agency, to develop the various angles of the project and to begin a journey that would eventually overwhelm all involved with the power of public interaction.  The result was the creation of the Vodacom Unlimited Festival, designed to reveal Vodacom’s transformation to a new brand identity.  The Vodacom Unlimited Festival leveraged South Africa’s most popular musical genre by presenting the finest local talent, including pop phenomenon Liquideep,  scene godfathers, Djs at Work, and rising international star Black Coffee in support of Grammy-winner Little Louie Vega, accompanied by percussionist Luisito Quintero.  The  production was designed to elevate house music to a competitive, stadium-sized entertainment experience and the festival was broadcast live on two national (MetroFM, 5FM) and one regional (Y-FM) radio stations and would go on to appear twice on SABC1, near-live and again the following night, and finally on Channel O.

The festival was DLD’s most ambitious technical production to date.  It featured more than 160 LED panels in two configurations, including five concentric rings on motorised hoists.  The same hoists would be used to dramatically reveal the new Vodacom logo in a moment supported by synchronised lighting, complex sound design, lasers, pyrotechnics and a live satellite crossing to the new Ponte Tower sign, which also featured a pyrotechnic display.  The event was filmed by a twelve camera outside broadcast truck and beamed via satellite to three regional events in Port Elizabeth, Durban and Cape Town.

To promote the festival, DLD worked with DraftFCB, Vodacom’s brand agency, to develop the festival’s identity.  This identity was then animated by DLD’s broadcast team to deliver cutting edge radio and television ‘call to attend’ campaigns managed by Vodacom’s media strategy agency, Notabene, and placed by Vodacom’s media buying agency, OMD.  The identity was also rolled out by DLD’s digital team to develop a complex and engaging social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.  The Festival’s Facebook page would go on to gather more than 11 000 users by the time show day rolled around, and would form an integral part of the live festival experience.

The Facebook page was the central hub for the release of information changes, blow by blow images and video.  DLD’s video deliveries for this environment included up to the minute video pre-interviews with all artists, including several shot as artists arrived at the airport.  DLD would also shoot interviews with artists as they came off the stage and processed them through additional shoots for DLD’s Vuzu TV show, V Entertainment, and go on to publish content via YouTube and Zoopy.  The Facebook page featured a preview tab which allowed users to sample a compilation of tracks provided by House Afrika Records, featuring festival artists, which would be given away to interacting audience members, and be made available for sale by Vodacom’s Vodafone Live portal.  Vodacom subscribers at the festival were encouraged to MMS (Multi-Media Message) photos from the event to a specially created network short-code and in return received a free download redemption code for the Vodafone Live mobile content portal.  The MMS images were then published to large video wall in the stadium, along with tweets and MXIT messages, and the republished back to the festival FaceBook page.

The most difficult element of the project to quantify remains the cultural signal of Vodacom unveiling its new logo in Soweto and the spontaneous cheers from the stadium audience as one of South Africa’s best loved brands transformed itself into something entirely new.  This intangible magic is the result of a courageous client, and Don’t Look Down being given every opportunity to demonstrate why futuristically converged and authentically African experiences are the way forward for the South African market.

Special thanks to Vodacom Managing Executive: Marketing, Enzo Scarcella and Vodacom Executive Head of Sponsorship, Fatima Hassim for the vision to ignite the project, and the continuous support throughout.  Thanks also to Trinergy Brand Connectors CEO, Haydn Townsend, for the tireless faith in DLD’s unique capability and steadfast commitment to a vision of interagency collaboration.