Shortlisted 2020

Travel and Tourism



Entered by:

BBC StoryWorks



Captains Of Africa

The Challenge

Despite the rise of the middle class, air travel in Africa remains something of a niche market, seen by many Africans as not offering good value for money. Emirates wanted to change this perception, by reaching the BBC’s aspirational African audience and showcasing the Emirates offering across the African continent. Their vision was to show young Africans that Emirates is not a distant global carrier, but a brand for Africa. Emirates wanted to ‘Connect Africa to the World’.

The main objectives of the campaign were to:

  • Increase the awareness of Emirates as a world-class airline .
  • Build a connection with African business and leisure
  • Leverage passion projects and African

It was clear that the campaign needed to fuel African pride and global aspirations by facilitating international connections in e.g. music and business.

Emirates knew they wanted to create some authentic human centric stories. They also knew they wanted to create a music video to act as an anthem for the campaign.

BBC StoryWorks, the creative studio from BBC Global News, applied a BBC lens to the brief and took a storytelling perspective, showcasing a modern vision of what is happening in cities and towns across Africa today.

The Creative Solution

How do you capture the spirit of a continent or bring to life the stories of a today’s generation, pushing the boundaries of new possibilities?

Our strategy to approaching the brief was to build an emotional connection with our audience . We wanted to bring the diverse populations of Africa into one place, to create a global platform for their voices.

From a recent study conducted by the BBC, we knew that affluent African millennials look for rich story-telling from travel brands, identifying with brands that share that vision and contribute directly to improving the African quality of life. Therefore what better way than to tell the stories of this new up-and-coming generation of influencers from across the creative spectrum, whose work also reflects the unique Emirates experience.

We decided to showcase this through video in a documentary style, discovering and telling stories that would aesthetically be of interest to our African audience. The films had to have a contemporary, youthful feel, with equal attention paid to strong, intriguing narratives alongside beautiful, cinematic storytelling, to appeal to a burgeoning and growing African audience. Each story had to have a big heart, be uplifting and aspirational for our audience, to lead them to feel African pride, build an emotional connection and of course to position Emirates favourably.

Research during development phase was key to finding the right stories; we were able call upon our local expertise and knowledge across the continent, working with local offices to find a new generation of African disrupters, making their mark globally across music, fashion, cuisine and entrepreneurship more broadly.

We wanted to reveal our contributors as unique, explaining how travel plays an important part of who they are and what they do. Emirates’ key messages were integrated carefully through the narrative: travel, food, entertainment and service being key areas of focus which related back to Emirates’ offering in-flight. The outcome was a beautifully created, cinematic series of short films and music. We also adopted techniques using colour and light at key moments during the stories, to spark curiosity and happiness in the audience when certain brand messages were being relayed.

To bring the series together we worked with the client and one of our contributors, Nairobi-based “Blinky” Bill Sellanga, to create an original song inspired by the popular sounds and rhythms of contemporary Africa. The soundtrack celebrates the currently cultural renaissance being experienced over Africa.

The Media/Content Amplification Solution

We knew from a recent lpsos study that 74% of the BBC’s audience in Africa are young, affluent metropolitans that consume BBC content via multi-platform channels. To reach this captive, young African audience we knew that the content had to be available across television and digital, and that in addition the social component would also play a big part.

With this in mind, we chose a truly multi-platform approach that would capture the attention of our extensive and premium audiences . The series of films made their debut on the BBC World News channel, running in the African stream and reaching over 13 million households per month.

On digital we created a playlist for BBC Reel, a newly created video site that is devoted to the BBC’s best visual storytelling. This playlist housed all the content, targeting audiences across Africa. To amplify and extend reach further we tapped into our BBC World Service platforms; Afrique, Arabic, Hausa, Swahili, Somali and Gahuza driving new audiences back to the BBC Reel playlist on

As well as this, a social campaign went out across BBC StoryWorks’ social accounts . Our strategy was to join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook celebrating amazing, inspiring stories of people constantly pushing boundaries and challenging African stereotypes. Aligned to the client’s objectives, our BBC StoryWorks social pages optimised the campaign daily, ensuring maximum viewership of the music and contributors videos across African regions. We also asked  the contributor  s to share the content across their social platforms, reaching out to their own audiences and creating conversations between the contributors themselves, enhancing the authenticity of the campaign .

In a true partnership style everyone was involved. Emirates also chose to run the films on their YouTube channel, receiving a total of 4.5 million views.

The Result

Captains of Africa took the message of ‘New Africa’ to the world, exceeding all of Emirates’ campaign KPl’s. Across TV and digital, the campaign received:

  • 41 million video views globally
  • 40,933,901 ad impressions
  • 300,000 social engagements
  • 322% increase in African pride
  • 4.5 million views on Emirates’ YouTube channel

To further understand the value of the campaign we measured the effectiveness and emotional response to the music  anthem on the target audience  living in Africa . BBC Global News’ measurement tool, Science of Engagement uses facial coding and eye tracking technologies, as well as ask specific questions about the brand to a test and control audience.

The music video alone delivered an overall 142% increase in association between Emirates and key traits. Showing an increase in Emirates association with ‘African Pride’ (322 %) and authenticity (232 %), uplifting beliefs that Emirates both understands and empowers modern Africa .

The anthem had an extremely positive response from the African public, with many people asking where they could get their hands on it. After listening to the anthem there was a 28% increase in brand favourability and 102% increase in purchase intent. People were relating, not only to the uplifting messaging in the track, but the musicality as well. Blinky Bill has also been approached by a number of Africa’s leading tastemaker radio hosts and DJs, asking when and where they can get their hands on his new single .

Overall, the content, created by BBC StoryWorks drove a strong uplift in brand awareness and favourability amongst the target audience across the continent. The audience response was incredibly positive, and the campaign highly successful, hitting all KPl’s and helping to establish Emirates as the go-to airline for travellers in Africa , building connections between leisure and business travellers and boosting African Pride.