On 31 March 2017, Smurfs: The Lost Village hit South African cinemas with a big blue bang, something Flow client Ster-Kinekor was excited about.
The movie stars pop-culture sensation Demi Lovato as Smurfette (the leading lady in this instalment). A mysterious map sets her and her fam – Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty – on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures, to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does.
The direction the movie took inspired us to run with the whole girl-power theme, which meant that our publicity execution relied a lot on Smurfette. Through Smurfette, we were able to tell a story that has always been there – “coolness with a purpose”. Shout out to Kim K (*kisses*) and her sisters.
With this film, we wanted to celebrate and showcase Smurfette’s social relevance, as well as her eco-loving character.
This was the perfect combination for us, because we could count on the movie’s generational brand equity to attract the toughest audience in any family: the kids. At the same time, we relied on Smurfette to charm the socks off the most cynical member of the family – the parent heading for tough economic times.
We made sure we had bright games and imagination-awakening content in the country’s long-lead store publications, to keep kids entertained for hours on end. This was an easy sell to the media owners, because they already had merchandise in store that they needed to sell. This was coupled with similar content and competitions in the country’s entertainment-focused publications, including You and Huisgenoot.
Globally, the movie partnered with the United Nations (UN) to promote the United Nations International Children’s Fund’s sustainable development goals. This partnership worked well for us because we wanted Smurfette to be seen at the coolest places, and to promote the movie.
With voice restriction from the movie producers, it meant that the Smurfette character could not speak, but the UN partnership addressed this challenge and a UN spokesperson became Smurfette’s voice. The UN promoted the movie and the relevant sustainable development goals on behalf of Smurfette. It was this element that demonstrated Smurfette’s character depth – something that we wanted to appeal to parents.
Smurfette’s social currency was 100. She was spotted in front-row seats at South African Fashion Week’s first-ever swimwear show. This particular show played host to other “it girls”, such as the Skhanda Queen and Nomuzi. Local fashion icons like Nthato Mashishi could not wait to snap selfies with her royal blueness.
Socialite Khanyi Mbau is most probably green with envy over Smurfette’s jet-setting ways; Smurfette easily changes her area code, thanks to Mango. To commemorate International Day of Happiness in March, Smurfette made an appearance in Cape Town on South Africa’s biggest TV breakfast show, Expresso. Here, too, her coolness had a purpose as she promoted her movie, Unicef’s sustainable goals and global happiness.
In the spirit of being happy, she hosted special screenings for celebrity moms and their families, as well as schools from disadvantaged areas in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
We also facilitated a junket shot in New York that flighted on South Africa’s coolest entertainment news show, V-Entertainment. Judging from the mad love received from the coolest people in Mzansi’s popular culture, there’s no doubt: the Smurfs are cool. Perhaps this explains the blue ...