Brand & Media Owner Partnership
De Beers Group
Today’s eco-aware millennials want to know more about the companies they buy from. They want to trust that their products are not causing harm in their production or distribution but rather are actively creating positive impacts aligned with their own values.
For over 50 years, De Beers has been working with the people of Botswana, including through “Building Forever” – their commitment to ensuring every diamond they discover leaves a lasting positive impact for the people and place where it’s found. Centered around nature, communities, ethics, and equality, their Building Forever commitment targets 12 goals including becoming carbon neutral, achieving a net positive impact on biodiversity, and supporting 10,000 women entrepreneurs by 2030.
Since 2015, the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project has been working to help secure permanent, sustainable protection for the Okavango Basin. In 2021, De Beers joined the National Geographic Society, providing support and funding to expand and accelerate the work already underway.
Under the mantel of “Okavango Eternal,” this multi-disciplinary and multinational partnership will support critical conservation research by funding expeditions to gather new data, installing hydrological monitoring technology and supporting local research capacity through grants and training.
Through communications around the partnership, De Beers hopes to both raise awareness of the wonder and importance of the Okavango Delta, whilst also shifting perceptions and building trust around the positive impacts that diamonds can have.
Through the partnership, Okavango Eternal has three core aims:
- Protecting the natural world, providing long-term wildlife corridor protection for the movement and proliferation of endangered species
- Supporting local communities, including helping ensure water and food security for more than 1M people and livelihood opportunities for 10,000 people
- Raising awareness of the Okavango Delta and its benefits through compelling storytelling
The Content Solution
The partnership with De Beers is rooted in storytelling around the importance of the Okavango Basin for people and wildlife in the Delta and beyond. Social Good projects are not simply campaigns to be run, nor are they initiatives to be completed. They are living, people-driven passions and plans to make a difference that require strategic ongoing communication to garner awareness, support, and comprehension to scale their impact.
De Beers is no stranger to creating impactful communications, having established the tradition of diamond engagement rings as well as coining: “A Diamond is Forever” back in 1947.
At National Geographic, we also inspire and impact global audiences to explore the world with curiosity and respect communities and cultures. We are a cast of Explorers and storytellers through film, photography, and writing, which, combined with our multi-platform audience reach, made National Geographic a natural media and content partner for amplifying the “Okavango Eternal,” partnership with the goals of explaining its importance across multiple areas and inspiring and educating audiences.
A multi-year content ecosystem and media strategy was created, leveraging the power of National Geographic’s storytelling.
The content included the announcement of the partnership, and the coming together of the two brands – what the project entails, what is found in the Okavango Basin itself, why it matters, the countries it flows through, and why the work is so important.
A dedicated digital hub houses a growing series of content chapters that explore the key challenges and the partnership’s commitments to protecting one of Africa’s greatest natural treasures. Through compelling custom videos, photo galleries, written articles and interactive experiences, visitors can explore the Okavango Delta, the animals, water, people, team, and new discoveries related to the project.
We launched the first 3 core themes – What is the Okavango, People & Culture, and Biodiversity from August 2021, with more content chapters to come in 2022.
The content to date has been produced during the pandemic without the usual access to directors and photographers, due to enforced lockdowns across the globe. The London and Washington DC production teams explored our vast digital archives and reached out to an extensive network of National Geographic’s photographers and explorers to pull the content together in time. They achieved a stunning, rich, and emotive depiction of the Okavango Basin, depicting the biodiverse landscape at the heart of the conservation programme, and all housed on the dedicated nationalgeographic.com/Okavango-Eternal hub.
The Media/Content Amplification Solution
The media activation was developed with 3 key principles:
- Digital & social first distribution: It was critical to introduce our global audiences to the partnership across digital and social channels, directing them to the content hub on nationalgeographic.com where they could interact with our ‘Okavango Map,’ a storytelling device allowing them to select and explore the three initial content chapters. Through organic and paid distribution, these platforms have allowed us to reach a broad audience (age 18-54), Nat Geo followers, and target eco-millennials within De Beers’ key markets (US & UK). Furthermore, leveraging National Geographic’s first-party data, consumer interests could be targeted including conservation, wildlife and sustainability.
Partnership traffic drivers were also deployed across nationalgeographic.com including run of site banners and pre-roll, driving visitors to the dedicated hub and individual content pieces. To complete the user journey, De Beers’ sponsored brand banners ran across all campaign content directing traffic to www.DeBeers.com to learn more about their broader Building Forever approach.
- Leverage our social leadership position globally: As the no.1 leading brand on social media, we used bespoke assets within our organic and paid activation across social and video platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. The combination of paid and organic was included to ensure optimal reach, engagement, and increased views of the video content. Furthermore, organic placements would allow the content to live in perpetuity on the National Geographic feed. This partnered with video tactics such as TrueView, which allows for longer creative, have helped drive longer watch times for the video content.
- KPI driven tactics Each of the media tactics for all launch content chapters were set to deliver on campaign KPIs: driving awareness, engagement and shifting brand perceptions. Through a combination of media performance reporting, social sentiment analysis and a brand study; we continued to apply the learnings and refine our targeting and tactics accordingly, to further improve results as we continue the partnership. Equally, this will enable retargeting and lookalike audience tactics in the next campaign to reach the most engaged audiences, deepening their understanding of the project and strengthening De Beers’ brand associations.
- Strong Campaign Engagement and Recall
- 33M impressions were achieved, nearly twice planned, with 70,000 hub content views and dwell time averaging at 4”46 (+72% site average)
- Campaign-wide, 8.6M video views with exceptionally high video completion rates above National Geographic benchmarks (e.g., 89% YouTube Instream Video).
- 92% of comments on organic posts were positive or neutral whilst 97% of ‘reactions’ on paid social were also positive/ neutral.
- Post campaign research revealed high campaign recall as well as the ability to drive action amongst the core audience
- 77% of this audience recalled at least one element of Okavango Eternal campaign (2x average norms).
- 94% agreed the campaign stood out (25 percentage points higher than industry norm)
- More than 4 in 5 respondents across key markets were driven to a De Beers related action
- Uplift in Brand Perception
Most importantly, the research study demonstrated significant achievements for the impact project and storytelling partnership. Over 90% agreed they care more about the Okavango Basin AND want to learn more about the Okavango Wilderness Project.
- 95% of respondents felt more positive towards De Beers after seeing the content. Respondents felt the presence of National Geographic made the content more memorable, authentic, and trustworthy.
- De Beers is now seen as more environmentally friendly, and positively associated with joy and optimism
- Significant positive shifts were seen in the core impact themes of the project: Environmental Protection, Supporting Communities & Diversity, with respondents’ views & associations towards De Beers improving as they engaged with more themes. Those who recalled three themes were 11 percentage points more likely to associate De Beers with conservation.
The importance of brand and media partnerships telling stories that educate and inspire us all cannot be underplayed. A research respondent shared, “That working together more can be done, two respected organisations can do more together than alone.”