The Client: Bayede-Iphepha laboHlanga and Mail & Guardian
The Brief: To dispel the notion that vernacular languages are not synonymous with serious discourse.
Igunundu Agency is slowly transforming the media industry narrative through language. The passion for creating content in indigenous languages has resulted in exponential growth, most importantly strategic partnerships. One of the partnerships was with the leading and revered weekly English publication, the Mail and Guardian.
In 2021 the agency presented an idea which was the first for a 36-year-old newspaper – an 8-page insert to be published and to host a webinar session in isiZulu. The idea was inspired by the desire to engage and distribute content to communities in vernacular languages that are underserved. The Mail and Guardian was ideal as it is not only reputable but also it has a national footprint.
Initially this was just a dream as there was apprehension as to how the Mail and Guardian readers would receive the idea. The campaign required a lot of planning, especially headlines which had to be at the level which the readers could identify with easily. The look-and-feel was also important as it was to be within the standards of the Mail and Guardian.
It took a painful incident for this idea to be a success. The passing of ISILO, Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu presented us with the opportunity to do something.
As always, combining newsroom experience, knowledge of language and clean layout was our winning formula. Igunundu’s Product and Design team did all the research, content development, design and layout. On 23 April, for the very first time in history, the Mail and Guardian published ISILO Ngesethu Isikhathi, an 8-page supplement on A3 newsprint with in-depth writing supported by a lively design and layout format and photographs. This was printed on high quality paper, which provides greater durability and enhanced reproduction. In the supplement, information was compressed into small work for background reading, and so written that all sectors of our society could read and understand the meaning.
It did not stop there; ISILO Ngesethu Isikhathi supplement was leveraged across digital platforms. From the supplement, came a podcast series and a live webinar session giving people opportunity to learn and engage about the life and times of the longest reigning Zulu Monarch.
Igunundu MD, Nhlanhla Mtaka said: “this campaign was a success and kickstarted the idea and national debate about the future of newspapers and how vernacular language and readers are viewed.
“The campaign was bold – it indeed challenged the prevailing misconception that vernacular content is only aimed at so-called lower community groups and is not viable as a mainstream medium“, said Mtaka.