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VML says ‘Bye for now’ to Vodacom

VML South Africa and Vodacom are parting ways. The announcement comes in the wake of a scheduled pitch process that took place as the contract between the two companies neared completion.

The announcement marks the conclusion of a successful partnership during which Vodacom enjoyed unprecedented marketing success with a series of high-profile campaigns that aligned with the brand’s values and purpose.

Putting VML on the map

For VML, the Vodacom account came at a crucial time and will forever be recognised as a pivotal moment for the agency. ‘Winning Vodacom in December 2020 allowed us to hire some of the most incredibly talented people in the industry,’ says MD Danelle Stiles.

‘It was a dark time for many who had lost their jobs due to Covid-19 and Vodacom gave so many people a chance of getting back on their feet. As a partnership, this really was a meeting of minds and an alignment of values, which led to a level of trust that allowed our teams to create some magical work almost from the word go. It’s been a privilege to see how much we were able to achieve in the time we held the account.’

Traditionally known for its expertise in the digital space, VML also had the opportunity to display its capabilities as a full-service agency, which will no doubt stand it in good stead for years to come. ‘Vodacom was the account that really put us on the map as a large, integrated agency,’ says CEO Jarred Cinman.

‘We have loved building this brand and have been consistently inspired by a team of exceptional clients. It’s “bye for now” but we could not be prouder of the work we’ve done and all the incredible VMLers who have worked tirelessly to deliver consistent excellence. Vodacom changed the game for us, and we wish them well as they start a new chapter.’

Vodacom’s first “Unlock Your Summer” campaign with VML featured a collaboration with Zakes Bantwini whose feel good hit with Kasango, Osama, became the sound of the campaign and the song of the summer, achieving Vodacom’s objective of being synonymous with the season.

Meanwhile, the “Turn to Us” campaign for Vodacom Business tugged at the heart strings of small business owners with its relatability. And Vodacom’s recent nostalgic “30 Years of Wonderful” campaign had audiences reaching for the tissues.

Awards rolling in

Vodacom had a great showing at the Cannes Lions awards in 2022 with the Anti-Hijack Ads campaign, which was awarded Bronze Lions in Mobile and Creative Data, along with a Silver Lion in Media. The campaign was also named Ad of the Week by Contagious, which called it, ‘a great example of a brand providing genuine utility to its customers in an unexpected and creative way.’

In 2022 Vodacom claimed sixth spot in the Loeries brand rankings for Sub-Saharan Africa – their first time in the top 20 – and ninth in Africa and the Middle East. Their numerous wins included Gold for “Anti-Hijack Ads”, as well as “Parental Control” – a campaign that featured billboard art built out of Lego bricks. And it was Gold again at last year’s Loeries for “Hearing Challenge”, a campaign that used a TikTok challenge to assess hearing in South Africa’s youth. This campaign also achieved a shortlist at Cannes Lions last year. 

The “Parental Control” and “Anti-Hijack” campaigns went on to earn Vodacom three merit awards at last year’s One Show.

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