For the third year, Sanlam challenged the King James Group to conceptualise a social experiment for National Savings Month. This year, we took on one of the biggest causes of debt and poor savings – conspicuous spending, a phenomenon fueled by ostentatious celebrities.

The Challenge

South African financial services companies compete to stand out during National Savings Month but financial planning messages have lost impact. The environment was also critical: 2016 was tough economically, making life for South Africans hard. We couldn’t launch a campaign asking people to save when they could barely keep financially afloat. A novel approach was needed to allow Sanlam to generate real-impact and nationwide interest.

The Idea

Sanlam flipped the conversation to encourage people to spend less. Not save more. We found the biggest opportunity lay in launching a conspicuous saving counter-remedy to conspicuous spending. We secretly recruited actress Pearl Thusi and multi-platinum rapper Cassper Nyovest – two celebrities known for energetic spending – to twist their lifestyles from conspicuous spending to #ConspicuousSaving.

The Solution

We needed to demonstrate how obsessive followership of celebrities’ lifestyles can impact behaviour – without saying it in so many words. Well, at least not at first. From 1 July, Cassper and Pearl’s feeds switched from images of their usual champagne and Bentleys, to the opposite. They posted orchestrated acts of conspicuous saving. Buying at thrift stores, having street-side haircuts, DIY manicures are examples. The response was immediate as millions of followers speculated: Are they broke? What’s going on? Amid the speculation, Cassper released a hit track “Mr Madumane (Big $pendah)” about the pitfalls of living beyond your means and Pearl appeared on the cover of Cosmopolitan wearing a hessian sack. She looked like a million bucks but her outfit cost considerably less! The article debunked common celebrity lifestyle myths. We hosted a reveal event - disguised as Cassper's music video launch party - and revealed that these acts of #ConspicuousSaving were part of Sanlam's National Savings Month campaign. Earned and paid media interviews and features with Sanlam, third-party experts, and celebrity partners drove home the saving message.

The Results

82 million+ media impressions, R11 million+ in earned media exposure and 1.2 million+ video views. The campaign ignited a national conversation around living within your means and got people reflecting on and changing their spending behaviour. Our approach led to measurable results, once again positioning Sanlam as the leading voice on saving during National Savings Month with 3x more news and social media conversation than the nearest competitor.

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