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David Slays Goliath: Branded Narrative Has Its Say

David Slays Goliath:
Branded Narrative Has Its Say



How Koo Beat Coke – Twice! – in the Sunday Times Top Brands Survey

Koo took the Grand Prix at the Sunday Times Top Brands Awards two years running, knocking Coke into second place – using 6.4% of their budget. How? By building a brand narrative rather than traditional advertising. Academic, Dr. Ronald Irwin interrogated the role and efficacy of branded content in the elevation of brand love. The creation of Mama Koo and her eponymous radio show was a dominant platform in the advertising mix, creating branded storytelling and consumer-generated content, using listeners’ recipes and life experiences.

In the 2011 and 2012 Sunday Times Top Brands Awards ranking, Koo took the top brand position over Coca‑Cola … This was a true David and Goliath story given the relative size of each company, and especially given the proportional advertising spend each company invested in the South African market. Both brands are ubiquitous, but Coca‑Cola managed to outspend its closest rival by 94% in advertising outlay. Both Koo and Coca‑Cola have been in the South African market for the same amount of time, having both been introduced in 1940.

Despite spending 6.4% of Coca‑Cola’s budget in 2011, and close to that in following years, Koo seems to have created a greater perception of quality and customer loyalty. Since 2012, Koo has retained a favourable brand positioning in regard to Sunday Times Top Brands measurement. It was ranked second to Coca‑Cola for Sunday Times Overall Favourite Brand Award in 2013. It also retained its position as the top tinned food brand in the country in both years. The brand’s relatively small size in comparison to Coca‑Cola makes it a worthwhile, if not a direct, product‑level competitor, for Koo does not produce consumer beverages that compete with Coca‑Cola’s products. Its 2011 and 2012 awards were notable because the company’s strategy was, very simply, to use traditional narrative branding methodology to attain impressive consumer penetration and knowledge about the brand.

To read more, click here for Dr. Ronald Irwin’s article chapter: Building a brand narrative versus Traditional Advertising from his doctoral theses ‘Humour, Hope and Home:  A Study of Five Branding Initiatives Using Transmedia Narrative in South Africa.’

Dr. Ronald Irwin (ronald.irwin@uct.ac.za) lectures in Media Studies at the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town.

click here to check out his website





The Mama Koo show was a destination listening branded storytelling series targeting women LSM 5-7. Creatrix conceptualised and produced the show in six languages for ten years, continually refreshing the angle and the content whilst retaining brand essence in the persona of Mama Koo.The character was both a strategy and a platform. Mama Koo is a legend in her own lunchtime.









Did you know that Koo beat Coke – twice! –

in the Sunday Times Top Brands Awards,

spending a mere 6% of their budget?






The Mama Koo Show featured a signature tune that lived on six ALS stations for more than a decade. Tapping into the legacy of the brand, the orchestration referenced African percussion overlaid with pennywhistle, keyboard piano and guitar parts. Male vocals lurked in the underscore and the hook was imparted by a memorable melody in three part harmony.




For more Koo articles and links, click:






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