Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Zimbabwean newspaper campaign turns worthless banknotes into gold

A campaign to boost sales of the Zimbabwean, a newspaper that attacked Robert Mugabe's regime by using the troubled country's almost worthless bank notes to make billboard adverts, has won the top award in the outdoor category at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

The campaign to promote sales of the newspaper, which is published in the UK and South Africa, used the Zimbabwean currency as an advertising medium on posters and billboards to raise awareness of the dire state of the country under Mugabe. Straplines used in the poster campaign included "Thanks to Mugabe this money is wallpaper", "Z$250,000,000 cannot buy the paper to print this poster on", "It's cheaper to print this on money than on paper", and "Fight the regime that has crippled a country".

The ads, by South African agency TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris/Johannesburg, won the Cannes Lions Grand Prix award for outdoor advertising. The Zimbabwean campaign also won a gold lion in the media category. The agency said one of the most "eloquent symbols" of the state the country is in, with rampant inflation, was to use the Zimbabwean currency. The newspaper faces a 55% "luxury import" tax to get copies into Zimbabwe, making it unaffordable to most locals. To get more copies of the paper into the hands of Zimbabweans it has to be subsidised, which is done by raising awareness and sales outside the country.

The Zimbabwean newspaper, which carries the slogan A Voice for the Voiceless, targets the more than one million Zimbabweans who live in the UK and two million who live in Southern Africa, mainly South Africa and Botswana. Wilf Mbanga, the founder, editor and publisher of the Zimbabwean, lives in Britain after being forced to leave Zimbabwe when he was branded an enemy of the people. He has written for the Guardian's Comment is Free blogging website.

UK ad agency DDB London won a bronze lion at Cannes in the outdoor category for a campaign for Harvey Nichols in Bristol.

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