On Shelf
On Shelf

On Shelf: Why Lifebuoy soap wins this week

by Louise Burgers. Now is the time for brands to be heroes not zeros in the face of the coronavirus, like Lifebuoy soap, which wins the week.

by Louise Burgers. There’s a fizz in the drinks category this week; and now is the time for brands to be heroes not zeros in the face of the coronavirus, like Lifebuoy soap, which ticks all the brand boxes this week…

A berry nice cider

If you need to drown your sorrows at any time in the coming months with this corona catastrophe looming, then the new Savanna juniper-flavoured cider is a sweet choice. Savanna Jean, as the new brand is called, has a pretty designer bottle and aims to challenge the category. The new flavour is described as having “a crisp apple taste with a hint of juniper berries”. Why bother with a glass? Savanna advocates drinking it straight out the bottle with a slice of lemon: “People like to feel fancy and they like to drink fancy. But fancy doesn’t have to be complicated. All Savanna Jean needs is a slice of lemon in the neck for the perfect serve,” eulogises Eugene Lenford, marketing manager, Savanna at Distell. The name Jean was generated in consumer research groups.

Unlocking brand value
Castle Lite Unlocks 2020.

Castle Lite is working hard to target younger consumers, especially female consumers, with its latest campaign celebrating 10 years of its Castle Lite series. It has positioned itself as a cool, urban, sexy brand with “ice-cold DNA” according to the marketing-speak. Two weeks ago, the brand sent out an extraordinary digital campaign to announce Castle Lite Unlocks 2020, its unique early bird ticket system and to reveal the 2020 international headliner: Cardi B. The brand did the “unthinkable” when it asked its consumers to purchase tickets to the 2020 Unlocks experience before anything had been revealed. All people knew was that tickets were super cheap at R50. The brand did leave a trail of carefully selected Easter Eggs to provide some clue as to the headline act. There were clues left on the website, in videos, the use of her lyrics in the promos and even in the media statement where  Cardi B’s name was spelt down the side of the press statement with each paragraph beginning with one letter from Cardi B’s name. The hashtag #CastleLiteUnlocks trended as fans tried to guess who the headliner was; and tech-savvy consumers looked where no one else was looking, discovering that the words “Castle Lite Unlocks Cardi B” had been added to the Castle Lite website HTML code. Cardi B will headline the Castle Lite experience at the TicketPro Dome in Johannesburg on 12 June 2020. A class act from Castle.

Now is the time to be a brand hero

Most disaster situations bring communities together and brands often see the social capital of stepping in to help  and everybody wins. Unfortunately, you also get those wanting to make a quick buck, as a mask manufacturer on Takealot which tried to charge R2000 for a box previously retailing at under R100 – the story was highlighted by the influential GoodThingsGuy blog, which led to Takealot removing the seller’s post. Lesson: NO PRICE GOUGING!  What is better than being reactive, is being proactive, like Clicks which put out a statement saying they were holding prices of critical health products and limiting the number of items per customer. Their shelves are still out of stock despite this as panic sets in among some consumers. Now is the time for brands to step up and be heroes like Clicks and Lifebuoy soap with its public service announcements in huge ads across the Sunday Times this past weekend, detailing what the public need to do to stay healthy, or if they feel unwell. Very clever, innovative and with perfect timing; as well as the most epic brand trolling of competitors – while maintaining its image as a responsible citizen: not only did Lifebuoy, a Unilever brand, create huge brand awareness for itself, it snuck in a mention of other Unilever soap brands Lux and Sunlight; as well as those of their competitors: Protex, a Colgate-Palmolive brand and Dettol, made by Reckitt Benckiser, with the copy line: “Please use any soap nearest to you. Not just Lifebuoy, but any soap like Lux, Dettol, Protex or Sunlight.” Lifebuoy wins this week. Next level branding *slow clap*.


Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of RetailingAfrica.com. She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.


– Receive the Retailing Africa newsletter every Monday and Thursday. Subscribe here.