Flow Communications

Over the years, Flow has worked on many exciting projects with long-standing client Hollard. We love to break new ground, so we were delighted to be tasked with helping this leading insurer introduce its Big Ads for Small Business campaign this month on a cool, interactive virtual exhibition platform.

The Big Ads for Small Business initiative involves Hollard sharing its “big advertising” spaces with 12 budding small businesses over six months – until August 2021. The aim is to help these enterprises thrive in the long term, bolstering South Africa’s economy in the process and being a catalyst for positive change.

(“Big ads” are any big-budget advertisements that small businesses would otherwise struggle to afford, such as billboards or radio and television spots.)

Flow account director Daya Coetzee, who was the project manager for the launch event, says, “The project was super exciting. The client came to us in December 2020 with the most wonderful campaign and asked us to give them some big ideas to create a buzz around it.

“It’s such a privilege to be given creative scope by a client and the time to conceptualise and ideate. We threw quite a few big ideas their way and, over the course of a few weeks and various presentations and reverts, we were able to refine our offering.

“Of course, a challenge that the whole world is facing is how to effectively launch a campaign during a pandemic and lockdown. We wanted to have a launch event that was something more than your usual video-conference live stream …

Fred Roed
Entrepreneur Fred Roed, founder and CEO of the Heavy Chef learning platform for entrepreneurs, delivers his keynote speech at the launch event.

Virtual ‘exhibition world’

“We decided on an interactive platform where the audience could engage with the space, each other and the small-business owners,” Daya explains, noting that the platform also had to showcase advertisements, the 12 small businesses and the campaign through multimedia content, and allow for live keynote presentations by local entrepreneurs.

Flow’s challenge was to build a tailor-made and client-branded “exhibition world” for the event, where participants, through their avatars, could move around the main stage area and exhibition rooms, listen to keynote speeches, and approach small-business owners at their branded booths for chats.

Flow graphic designer Lerato Thoabala was given the challenge of designing the various virtual spaces, including video-viewing and reading areas, and chill-out rooms. Lerato and IT manager Chad Soo spent many hours of design and development to arrive at the final product that both Flow and the client were happy with.

“It was an amazing experience to be part of the team that helped put together the Big Ads project,” says Lerato. “Although in the beginning it looked like a daunting task, because I had never seen or done anything close to what was required from me, I quickly figured out a way to simplify it.

“I tapped into my own experiences at various exhibitions and other events, and used the vivid memories in my head as building blocks to put together the different spaces.

“What initially appeared to be an impossible task quickly became easy,” adds Lerato. “After each meeting, we drew closer and closer to the light. I really enjoyed working closely with Chad and Daya, and I also found it easy to work with the client.”

Once the Flow and Hollard teams had learnt to navigate the platform, they also needed to teach the 12 small-business owners how to interact in the futuristic world in a very short space of time – to great success on the day.

In addition to the project management, design and development work for the launch event, Flow is also providing content-writing and PR services to Hollard for the duration of the Big Ads for Small Business campaign.

Koni Wines stand
The exhibition booth for Koni Wines, one of the 12 small businesses supported by the Hollard Big Ads for Small Business campaign.

New technology

Chad points out that virtual exhibition platforms are still in their infancy – the team encountered and overcame various technical constraints as they built the platform, but he was pleased with the outcome.

“Running a hybrid solution is never really easy. We integrated various solutions on one platform, allowing us to host a successful event that mimicked on-site interaction,” Chad notes.

Daya adds, “There were a few glitches, which we will iron out next time, but overall the feedback from the audience, clients, SMMEs and even Flow staff was overwhelmingly positive – we led the way into the Fourth Industrial Revolution era of eventing.”

Heidi Brauer, Hollard Group chief marketing officer, said in a note to Flow after the event: “Huge appreciation to you all for creating and executing something to be so proud of! I’ve been faced with a bunch of new platforms over the last year, and this was one time I wasn’t clenching my teeth, and my shoulders weren’t up by my ears! Thanks again to all.”

Flow is pleased that we could play a role in such an ambitious project to uplift small businesses, their communities and – ultimately – the country, and we look forward to continuing our work for the Big Ads for Small Business campaign, and for Hollard in general.

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