by MarkLives (@marklives) This week we feature insight into the brief, creative idea, production challenges and results of the ongoing “Sbonis’ iDiski” campaign for Unilever South Africa’s Shield Deodorant from Chaos Theory, Gorilla Creative Media and Edelman PR, which is now in its third year.

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Client: Unilever South Africa — Shield Deodorant
Ad agency: Chaos Theory, Gorilla & Edelman PR
Title: Sbonis’ iDiski

Information supplied by Unilever South Africa.


As South Africa’s no. 1 deodorant brand, Shield had been a little too fragmented in its marketing approach and wanted to reconnect with South African consumers. Using insights aligned with the unique South African consumer, we aligned with soccer as the perfect vehicle to enhance and evolve the global brand positioning of “movement” and “performing under pressure”. By combining SA’s inherent love of soccer with our brand values to get SA to achieve more by moving more, the Shield team was convinced it could connect with its target market through sport, and tapping into consumers passions.

“I truly believe that, as brand managers, we must have the courage of our convictions to really get behind a campaign and back it all the way no matter what — sometimes you even need to put your job on the line,” says Gareth Marshall, Shield SA senior brand manager.


  • Year one: 2017
  • Year two: 2018
  • Year three: 2019 in progress

Creative summary

Creating a unique sponsorship property from the ground up, Shield has been able to connect meaningfully with its target market, in a cluttered marketplace, on a small percentage of global budgets.

Understanding the power and reach of football, Shield wanted to truly own a unique space. Crafting a partnership with European champions, Chelsea FC, the Shield team knew it could deliver a truly inspirational skills development programme that would offer potential SA youngsters the opportunity to access international standard training programmes. The legendary SA superstars, Orlando Pirates, were added as an additional layer in year two to provide a more practical on-the-ground layer to the regional trials while offering a truly aspirational opportunity to actually take to the field in the iconic black-and-white kit. The campaign has evolved in year three to further extend its reach by adopting a scalable train-the-trainer approach in an effort to reach 15 000 aspirational soccer hopefuls.

Now in its third year, Shield’s Sbonis’iDiski campaign has evolved into a national platform to upskill and motivate young South Africans, in all aspects of life, through the medium of football. It offers all players a chance to improve their skills through access to world-class preparation. Through local and international team partnerships, players have been exposed to invaluable training programmes, both on and off the field, from the world’s best development coaches, including skills development, match strategy, diet and nutrition and media-liaison training.

After an intensive national selection processes, the top players attend a finals week and take to the field to see how they perform under pressure under the scrutiny of Chelsea coaches. The top three players then experience an immersive training and match-day experience at the home of Chelsea Football Club, Stamford Bridge, and at its world-class training facility based in Cobham, UK.

Finally, on returning home, one lucky player is then offered a place in the Orlando Pirates Development team as a salaried professional player for the year, making this campaign a truly unique vehicle to prepare a talented footballer for the rigours and pressure of professional sport.


To ensure effective brand penetration, Shield partnered with SABC 1’s SoccerZone, creating the Sbonis’ iDiski series that outlined the mechanics of the campaign but also profiled the individual players, exposing them to an audience and potential employers they wouldn’t otherwise have.

The TV series is supplemented with a large in-store focus: consumers enter via details on pack, and through a partnership with Soccer Laduma magazine, a large social media presence used carefully chosen local respected influencers and even Chelsea FC and Pirates first team players to further connect around key preparation tips.

Competition mechanics and the ongoing progress of each year’s campaign

A national activation sees thousands of hopefuls try out at skills sessions across the country, coached and assessed by a team of Shield and Orlando Pirates coaches; lucky winners are selected to participate at finals week held at the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre. Chelsea Development coaches fly in to put the hopefuls through their paces before a set of ultimate winners are chosen to participate in a UK skills week at Cobham. After that, a final winner is offered a salaried position for a year with the Orlando Pirates Development team, enjoying every opportunity to become a professional and salaried professional.


At the end of year one of this campaign, sales of Shield men’s deodorant soared by 9% value and 8% volume year-on-year. In year two, these figures closely mirrored the success of year one, again tracking constant growth of 9% value and 8% volume in 2018.

Social media posts had higher than usual reach and engagement with an opportunity to see (OTS) of 123m in year one, with similar figures for year two.

Organic PR coverage averages approximately R20m per year; the Sbonis’ iDiski series is viewed by Soccer Zone’s 2m viewers each week, with added media value over R5m across media platforms.

Importantly the campaign, through its upliftment and upskilling of local football talent, has created real opportunities for talented youngsters. Over and above the salaried Orlando Pirates Development player prize, Sbonis’ iDiski has seen other players and finalists access opportunities that simply wouldn’t have been available without the campaign’s reach and exposure.

One finalist has signed with an international club and is currently playing overseas. All three finalists from year one were offered trials with local premier league clubs on their return from Cobham, and other players continue to explore semi-professional or professional opportunities, often with the ongoing assistance of the Shield coaching staff long past the expiration of the campaign’s actual footprint.



Unilever South Africa
Shield Deodorant
Senior brand manager, South Africa: Gareth Marshall
Assistant brand manager: Nomfundo Kahnyile


Sponsorship & activation: Chaos Theory
Digital: Gorilla Creative Media
PR & influencer: Edelman PR



MarkLives logo#Campaigns is the new weekly MarkLives column featuring insight into the brief, creative idea, production challenges and results of South African communication campaigns, both ongoing and recent. Have a campaign worthy of being featured in #Campaigns? Submit a short motivation to 2mark and we may well be in touch. Please include links to campaign material, when it ran/is running and why you believe it should be featured.

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