On Shelf
On Shelf

 #OnShelf: From Covid campaigns to people counters

by Louise Burgers. Both Ackermans and Bavaria launched virtual campaigns this month to circuit the impact of Covid; and a UK company has launched ‘people counters’ in SA to aid retailers.

by Louise Burgers. Both Ackermans and Bavaria launched virtual campaigns this month to circuit the impact of Covid; and a UK company has launched ‘people counters’ in SA to aid retailers.

Honoring the impact of women

Ackermans is showing appreciation for the tenacity of South African women with the launch of its ‘Faces of Change’ campaign, which aims to recognise and amplify the work of women who are making an impact in their communities. “Covid-19 has had a devastating impact across the globe, but the silver lining is that there has been an incredible outpouring of charity and goodwill,” said Shameema Maloon, Ackermans advertising manager. “We’ve been proud to bear witness to the selfless efforts of a number of remarkable South African women, who have sacrificed their time, energy and resources to uplift their communities.”

The digitally-led campaign – which kicked off on 11 June and culminates in Women’s Month – was conceptualised in collaboration with Ackermans’ creative agency 99c. It aims to promote the stories of the selected women, while creating awareness and lending support to the causes closest to each of their hearts. In the first phase of the campaign, a custom-designed microsite will showcase the five individuals chosen, and their associated charity or organisation; while phase two invites the public to donate to their respective causes through the platform. This will also be amplified via Ackermans’ social media channels. In the final phase, five new nominees selected randomly each week will feature on the campaign channels. This will encourage the public to support, donate and volunteer towards their chosen charities or organisations.

Now there’s a people counter for retailers

RS Components and BARTH Elektronik have launched a people counter maker project to help social distancing efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, in store. People counters use non-contact sensors to help staff monitor areas and maintain a safe density of people in shops and other commercial areas. The project, called ‘People Counter’, can be assembled in less than an hour and records the number of people entering and exiting a room, indicating when it is safe to allow more people to enter; while still maintaining the recommended distance from others. This is particularly effective in retail environments where safe social distancing can be difficult to control.

How it works, is with two photoelectric proximity sensors, or light barriers, that detect the direction of movement, while a miniature PLC calculates the number of people in and out of the store in real time. A password-protected CAN touch screen is used to pre-set the maximum people limit and also serves as a ‘traffic light’ system, illuminating green when access is granted and red when access is denied. There is also an audio alert. The miniature PLC processes the data and controls the display.

The project design is very simple. All of the parts required are available to purchase from RS, and the full Bill of Materials, 3D data, software and manuals can be downloaded from the RS DesignSpark engineering website. A short video also gives instructions on how to build the system. Mike Bray, VP of Innovation at RS, added: “This is a simple project that could have a huge, positive impact on the way retailers help protect customers from COVID-19 while they are out shopping. We would encourage any makers keen to help combat the virus to look at this project and consider how it could support businesses in their area, and then perhaps help those retailers to implement it. Makers really can make a difference.”

Virtual Comrades Marathon sponsored

The Comrades Marathon went virtual this year, so to speak, with the event, ‘Race The Comrades Legends’ on Sunday, 14 June 2020. Bavaria 0.0% non-alcoholic sponsored the race, which gave runners the opportunity to enter the virtual event, choosing from a variety of distance categories; and run their favourite route on their property, a treadmill or out on the open road. To make it interesting and add competitive edge, entrants could virtually pit their skills and endurance against actual Comrades legends Bruce Fordyce, Frith van der Merwe, Samuel Tshabalala, and 2019 Comrades winners, Edward Mothibi and Gerda Steyn.

Both Mothibi and Steyn are Brand Ambassadors for Comrades sponsor, Swinkels Family Brewers, promoting its range of Bavaria 0.0% non-alcoholic adult beverages. More than 20 000 runners entered to keep the spirit of the race alive and raise funds for charity. Each participant created their personal story and on completion of their race was able to earn a real medal.


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.

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