14 June 2022

Louis Eksteen

For the past four years the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Marketing and Brand Management Unit has been working on a marketing project to position the university as a leading voice in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The project’s 4IR website was recently awarded the International Association of Business Communicators’ (IABC) International Gold Quill Excellence Award.

UJ also won the IABC Africa Silver Quill Excellence Award for its The future belongs to those who reimagine it campaign, and the IABC International Gold Quill Merit Award for the Beyond Imagining e-zine series. The IABC awards recognise excellence in strategic communication globally.

4IR in Action stories, Beyond Imagining e-zine

In the opinion of the judges, “This is a world-class entry, and shows the use of the global standard in action. It was a brilliant entry to review, and we commend the team for their innovation, implementation and strategic results.”

Lesmarie Bentley-Steyn, UJ’s Senior Manager for Marketing and Brand Management says the brief from UJ’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tshilidzi Marwala was clear: To communicate the message that at UJ, the future belongs to those who truly reimagine it.

“We activated the message through an imaginative 4IR website on which the Beyond Imagining e-zine is published along with all the various elements of The Future Reimagined campaign,” she explains.

The 4IR project, she adds, has been a challenging and exciting one, albeit that it has provided the team with a steep learning curve. “We took the traditional debate-panel discussion model and reimagined it, placing it firmly with the realm of its own 4IR scope using the latest technology.

“Inspiring 4IR in action stories show the audience how 4IR and humanity relate to each other. At the same time, we introduced a fully online magazine experience with our Beyond Imagining e-zine. A bespoke website hosts all this 4IR information while a multi-channel media strategy communicates the content.”

What the campaign has achieved, says Bentley-Steyn, is the amplification and extension of UJ’s 4IR strategy and messaging to a worldwide audience. At the same time it has highlighted the search for solutions to some of the fundamental challenges this new future brings. “The campaign exceeded our objectives, successfully raising UJ’s 4IR profile with a palpable return on investment,” she says.

Congratulating the UJ team on their impressive wins, Tracy McCoy, client executive at brand agency HKLM says, “Lesmarie and her team have a clear vision for UJ’s marketing communication, particularly as it relates to the university’s 4IR positioning. We’re very proud to be a part of the team.”

Twisted Toast Digital MD Louis Eksteen echoes McCoy when he says, “To have won a highly regarded gold award against other global entrants is a significant achievement. Congratulations to the UJ team. We’re enormously honoured to be a member of this cutting-edge, 4IR tech-driven team.”

A key element of the success of this campaign was the fact that each party – UJ, HKLM as the lead agency and Twisted Toast Digital – played to their specific strengths, says McCoy. “In addition to coming off a very sound strategic intent, all parties are totally aligned and understand the objectives of what we’re trying to achieve. The agency-client relationship successfully epitomises a true partnership,” she concludes.

This article first appeared on the main website of the University of Johannesburg on 10 June 2022