Shortlisted 2020

Travel and Tourism


South African Tourism

Entered by:

CNBC Catalyst


Where Great Minds Meet

The Challenge

Where Great Minds Meet (WGMM) is a campaign for South African Tourism (SAT) which positions South Africa as a MICE destination that offers world-class opportunities to invest, network, collaborate, and explore.

For SAT, the partnership is a powerful step-change that mirrors the burgeoning business and events scene. In 2018, South Africa was ranked by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) as the number one country in Africa and the Middle East for hosting business events. WGMM capitalizes on this success.

Engaging discerning business decision-makers and highlighting business opportunity in a saturated MICE market required a highly-targeted media strategy and a lateral approach to creative content. Core challenges:

  1. Targeting CNBC’s audience – as the world’s no.1 business and financial news network, we can connect SAT to the world’s most powerful business decision­ makers. CNBC’s aspirational and affluent investors are also high-value travellers. Our challenge was to create a media strategy that targeted business and leisure travellers across CNBC
  2. Highly-engaging content – SAT operates in a highly-competitive global MICE The challenge was to develop content that cuts through and prompts action. 89% of CNBC’s audience takes action as a result of seeing content on The aim was to infuse content with CNBC’s DNA of’actionable intelligence’ which in turn leads to action.

The client KPls were as follows:

  1. Strengthen SA as a MICE destination aiming for 95% of viewers more likely to visit SA in the next 3 years for a business event
  2. Minimum 50% to take positive action after seeing content
  3. Increase knowledge and familiarity of SA and how it is an area for business innovation
  4. Outperform CNBC benchmarks of 96% for partner suitability
  5. 2mins spent on native long-form article
  6. Minimum SM social impressions
  7. 500,000 page views to the digital features

The Creative Solution

Rather than focus on MICE/functional attributes, we carved out a story, human and innovation-led approach to truly engage audiences. This approach was a world­ first for the MICE sector.

We identified shared values between SAT and CNBC Catalyst e.g. ‘leadership’ – CNBC’s audience consists of business leaders and SAT produces world-leaders in e.g. technology innovation; CNBC’s Editorial team operates a ‘first and exclusive’ policy, so we reviewed world-first and exclusive developments in South Africa across all sectors. We then identified ground-breaking leaders driving innovation  and advances  in  technology  –  all of whom are disrupting industry, in incredible  spaces, against  a MICE backdrop.

We engaged global explorer Levison Wood to take CNBC’s influential audience on a journey of discovery and, effectively, meet great minds/individuals doing great things. In WGMM, Levison meets four leaders across Technology, Healthcare, Sustainability and Travel. Each leader embarks on a world first e,g. a scientist who has built the world’s largest telescope; a surgeon who performed the world’s first middle-ear surgery using 3D printed bones.

As well as creating a genuinely unique and fascinating content campaign, we informed our media strategy through first party audience insights and data points sourced through CNBC’s premium traveler consumer research study. This allowed us to find out the interests of our unique audience, media consumption habits and their existing knowledge of SAT and their association as a MICE destination. With that, we developed a content strategy that would appeal to premium travel audiences, cross-platform across CNBC’s owned and operated platforms, underpinned by audience data targeting.

Our preliminary research highlighted the following audience attributes:

  • 56% fly internationally for work
  • 21% fly business or first class more often
  • Regardless of seniority, most respondents vacation 2-3 times per year
  • Choose to extend their work trips by a few days and/or adding on an additional week to a business trip
  • The more exotic and exciting the location, the more likely audience are to extend their trip, with striking locations inspiring longer and more elaborate vacation trips .

We also identified that mobile is the preferred device to consume content. Rich imagery and high impact visual storytelling was the most effective way to capture their interest and prompt action.

The Media/Content Amplification Solution

WGMM launched in EMEA and APAC across TV and digital channels from June 2019 to December 2019.

A pre-campaign qualitative survey was conducted with the target audience to understand the impact upon perception of SA as a MICE destination. The qualitative work conducted underpins the results we have seen in the quantitative study at the campaign conclusion:

  • 97% of quaI respondents said the content was interesting to them
  • 90% of quaI respondents said it strongly highlighted SA as a leader in technology and innovation

Crafting a strong narrative became an important content focus to cut through and resonate  with the audience.  We sourced local stories unique to South Africa paired  with stunning imagery to deliver a truly authentic narrative, which went beyond what previous MICE campaigns have provided. These were pivotal to drive audience engagement as part of our research.

Whilst production was being executed, we kept in mind that all design work must be produced mobile first to ensure the experience we delivered truly catered to our audience habits. For example, we built an interactive scrolling timeline visually taking the audience on a journey through the story of South Africa, showcasing the dynamism of the region.

We closely monitored performance reports each week to ensure we were driving optimal traffic and optimized retargeting effort on users who spent longer on the page. We re-wrote certain headlines or changed creative images to help push the campaign harder and prevent user fatigue.

The Result

A post-campaign qualitative survey was run using Catalyst Connect, CNBC’s quarterly online survey of its audience. The survey serves as a measure of ROI for CNBC advertisers and is used to demonstrate the uplift the activity has upon core KPls.

The survey covers key markets – Germany, UK, India, Singapore and Hong Kong, with a combined sample size of c.900 online interviews with a senior business audience.

Effectiveness of meeting the project objectives:

  1. KPI: Strengthen SA as a MICE destination with 95% of viewers more likely to visit SA in the next 3 years for a business event
    Result : Recognisers of the campaign were 176% more likely to visit SA in the next 3 years for a business event
  1. KPI: Minimum 50% to take positive action after seeing the content
    Result: 84% of respondents said they have already taken positive action post-exposure
  1. KPI: Increase knowledge and familiarity of SA and how it can be an area for business innovation
    Result: 100% of respondents agreed that the campaign increased their knowledge and awareness of SA as a MICE destination
  1. KPI: Outperform CNBC benchmarks of 96% for partner suitability
    Result : 98% of campaign recognisers agreed when asked if CNBC is an appropriate partner for SAT to reach an audience of international business leaders
  1. KPI: 2mins spent on native long-form article
    Result : 321% over target for time spent on the native long-form article, with 6mins 42sec vs target of 2mins
  1. KPI: Minimum Smillion social impressions
    Result: 580% over target for social media impressions, with 29m vs target of Sm
  1. KPI: 500,000 page views to the digital feature site
    Result: 226% over target for total page views with 1,130,000 vs target of 500,000 Where Great Minds Meet is CNBC Catalyst’s highest-performing digitally-led campaigns.