man donating stuffed animals to children in need in South Africa

Purpose-Driven PR

— Carly Ritz, Account Director & Consumer Lead 

Can you really marry promotion with purpose, position it authentically and make a significant social difference? Can you do it in a way that will capture the public’s heart and attention while simultaneously telling the right brand story?

I think so.

Effective brand campaigns around social good and social purpose were two of the hot dishes on the skillet at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Campaigns like the Horyou Village and the Always #LikeAGirl initiative are forcing brands to re-evaluate how they contribute meaningfully to the larger social good dialogue.

While projects and campaigns like these are perceived to have hit the nail on the head, there is an industry debate happening about how big brands can do this effectively.

We were keen to tackle the challenge ourselves.

Nissan South Africa tasked Waggener Edstrom South Africa to take social change for a test drive. The result:Nissan Magic was born.

#NissanMagic in a snapshot

two men mountain biking in South Africa

Jason von Berg and Bongani

Nissan South Africa is passionate about giving back to the communities in which it operates and wanted to do so in a way that wasn’t dictated by crises. Rather, it wanted the communities to dictate how it could help – randomly and sporadically.
And so it put the deciding power into the hands of 12 carefully selected South African goodwill ambassadors, who were given free rein to change lives and make a difference.

Each ambassador will be paired with a Nissan vehicle for one month, during which they are required to perform a random act of kindness (RAK).
The challenge is to use the car as a vehicle for social change and to drive the #RAK movement. The seeding process of vehicle to influencer was crafted to ensure the most meaningful outcome for the cause by matching the vehicle to the ambassador’s lifestyle and personality, while demonstrating the most genuine showcase for the brand.

Launched in June 2015 as winter really dug her claws into the country, South Africa’s official #RAK ambassador,Brent Lindeque, the guy who started the movement in 2015, kicked things off when he was handed the keys to a Nissan NV200.

Over the past three weeks, Brent has been driving the cargo-carrier, nicknamed his charity wagon, around Johannesburg collecting donations of winter essentials, from blankets to knitwear, to donate to Othandweni Safe House in Soweto, to mark Mandela Day in July. Donations are rolling in, with the call to action amplified through his own social media channels as well as the Nissan South Africa platforms.

photo collage of Nissan Magic campaign

Jason and Bongani finding the perfect mountain biking trails in the Nissan X-Trail

Brent will then hand the baton over to blogger and cyclistJason von Berg, media personality and outdoor enthusiast, who will take Bongani, a young, aspiring rider who dreams of becoming a professional mountain biker, under his wing. Nissan South Africa has provided the bikes and a Nissan X-Trail so that Jason and his new riding partner can drive out of town on the weekends to find the perfect off-road paths to train for an upcoming mountain bike race. Bongani will keep his bike after the race, and he and Jason are already planning how they can continue pursuing his dream way beyond July.

Each ambassador has taken the #NissanMagic pledge to throw their weight behind a cause or project that is close to their hearts. Nissan South Africa will simply provide the vehicle and tools to make it happen.

We have put the wheels of purpose-driven PR in motion with #NissanMagic. It might only be a month in, but the magic is happening and planned activities are growing organically as other influencers, South Africans and businesses take on the #RAK15 challenge. Jason has already recruited a second rider and challenged other brands to support the cause, while Brent’s social media community has taken up the challenge to help him fill the NV200 to the brim.

Can the magic be sustained? Stay tuned. For the full list of ambassadors and their #NissanMagic activities, click here.