Flow Communications


Flow’s 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) campaign for the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre was designed to ramp up public awareness of the centre in general and its 4IR exhibition in particular, reminding the people of Johannesburg that they have a world-class science centre in their city and inviting them to visit and experience all its wonder.

The campaign was an enormous success, driving interest in the 4IR exhibition; making Sci-Bono’s RoboDog a Johannesburg mini-celebrity; and establishing Sci-Bono’s reputation not only as a premier attraction in the city, but also as a place that’s innovative, fun, and a great destination for science learning and exploration.

The brief

RoboDog posts were created for the campaign
RoboDog had never really gone missing at all. But his apparent disappearance was the heart and soul of a campaign that gave Flow a fantastic platform to remind Joburgers that the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre is a local treasure that offers a wonderland of fun, games and learning, all headlined by the 4IR exhibition.

The 4IR exhibition at Sci-Bono is both an unrivalled learning platform and a venue to invest hours in delightful, edifying, fun-filled 4IR play. Headlining the diverse and intriguing 4IR experience are four robots, including a robotic dog that is programmed to behave much like the pet dogs millions of people have at home. That very few Joburgers knew about the 4IR exhibition, or visited it, was a shame that Sci-Bono briefed Flow to put to rights.


  • Secure optimal visibility (on earned, owned and bought media platforms) for the 4IR exhibition, positioning the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre and the 4IR exhibition as fun and instructional. Reach at least half of all Johannesburg residents

  • Through publicity, grow the number of visitors to the 4IR exhibition in particular, and to the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in general. Secure at least 1 500 visitors to Sci-Bono in December 2021

Note: Covid-19 bedevilled attempts to put a target on visitor arrivals. Comparing year-on-year arrivals added very little value as the lockdown curtailed peoples ability to go wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted. In addition, there’s no doubt that the fear of being exposed to the virus (in a public venue like Sci-Bono) curtailed arrivals in both 2020 and 2021. As a result, a target arrivals number for the 2021 festive season was set low. It was more important to bring Sci-Bono (and the 4IR exhibition in particular) to public attention. The team was charged to reach at least half of all Johannesburg residents.


The agency was determined to avoid a “come and look” campaign that masqueraded as advertising and would offer social media surfers and journalists very little in the way of newsworthy content.

The solution was to create news by fabricating the disappearance of RoboDog, and alerting the social media community and media that it had “gone missing”.

While both agency and client understood this was risky, the collective knew the idea was the ticket to broad-based public awareness and talkability. It was also the ideal platform on which to communicate the wider, compelling 4IR and Sci-Bono message set: amazing tech; a great day out; an open door to limitless 4IR fun and applications; accessible; safe; great coffee (and so on).


That RoboDog was “missing” was first announced on Sci-Bono’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages. An hour after this announcement, a media alert about the missing robo-canine was issued. Of course, RoboDog was not missing at all, and never had been.

Within minutes, people were engaging on social media, expressing dismay; hoping RoboDog would soon be found; and (inevitably) speculating on who could have taken him from Sci-Bono. Editors jumped on the story, too, reporting the disappearance of the valuable RoboDog; publishing Sci-Bono’s appeal to the public to help find him; and giving generous column centimetres to the key message that the RoboDog is a much-loved, charismatic and treasured member of the Sci-Bono 4IR robotic family.

Flow stuck posters up at Sci-Bono and in and around Newtown (where Sci-Bono is located) declaring that RoboDog was on the loose and appealing for his return.

The campaign ran all weekend, generating unprecedented engagement on social media platforms and copious editorial coverage. There was 24/7 community engagement on social media and a flurry of media interviews with Sci-Bono chief executive Dr More Chakane.

On Monday 29 November 2021, the announcement was made (on social media platforms and via a media release) that RoboDog had returned to his home at the 4IR exhibition.

Editorial coverage of the happy return of RoboDog flooded in. Social media lit up with messages of delighted relief and congratulations. The city (and the nation) got behind the spirit of the campaign, delighting in the good-natured trick that Sci-Bono had played. In all, the campaign effectively communicated the wonders that Sci-Bono holds, and the special appeal of the 4IR exhibition.


  • Editorial reach: 22 771 531
  • Social media reach: 5 440 000
  • Total reach: 28 211 531 (in 2019, it was estimated that Johannesburg had around 5.7-million residents. The campaign was tasked to reach around three million people. The target was exceeded by 900%)
  • Advertising value equivalent of coverage: R390 000
  • PR value of coverage: R1 160 000