Innovation That Matters

South African drama series is entirely crafted for WhatsApp


Insurance company and advertising agency have teamed up to push their production via Whatsapp, a first for the entertainment industry in South Africa.

Using social media as a storytelling device has grown in popularity in recent years and brands have increased their marketing spend to find new ways to engage with their audiences. The latest creative effort comes from South Africa where financial services group Sanlam has chosen WhatsApp as the primary campaign vehicle to launch a full drama series to promote the company’s funeral products. Working with ad agency King James Group, Sanlam have hired veteran scriptwriter Bongi Ndaba to write Uk’shona Kwelanga (or The Death of Langa), a story about a fictional family’s funeral arrangements which unfold in real-time via text, voice notes and video. The messaging app was chosen instead of traditional methods of airing the show, as it offered the opportunity to engage with their consumers through a medium that they are very familiar with. The drama was released on 5 June, and run for six weeks, up until mid-July. Users were required to subscribe with their full names to a five-digit SMS number prior to the show’s launch.

Uk’shona Kwelanga tells the story of a family preparing for a funeral after the sudden death of Bab’ Langa. With a tight budget and untold secrets, the family’s conversation unfolds on a WhatsApp group and reveals the family’s struggle to deal with the emotional and financial pressure of the sudden loss. The drama features a number of well-known actors including Bongani Madondo and Thembi Mtshali.

With the growth of apps and the use of smartphones to perform a whole host of daily tasks including order farm produce, create events, organise travel and even book tickets, could a chat app change the way we consume TV, film and music in the future?




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