Case Study of the Month | February 2023 | Editor’s pick

The ‘GranBoks’ take the trophy for case study of the month as this campaign really stands out and resonates beyond the target audience. The theme has broad appeal, celebrating the grandmothers who raised the Springbok players that went on to win the 2023 Rugby World Cup. It’s easy to see why the campaign earned national coverage, reaching more than 50 million South Africans. Go team!

— Ellie Wilson, Digital Production Manager, Econsultancy


South African beer brand Castle Lager is the longest-serving sponsor of the Springboks, South Africa’s national rugby team – a sponsorship space it now shares with more than 50 brands from a diverse range of sectors. At the approach of the Rugby World Cup in 2023, Castle Lager partnered with South African digital agency Retroviral to craft a branded content campaign designed to be impactful and stand out among the other sponsored content around the team.

The campaign was based on research that found that around 11%, or 6.7 million, of South Africans are raised by their grandmothers, with several Springboks players included in this figure. Castle Lager celebrated the ‘GranBoks’ – the grandmothers that raised Springbok grandsons – in a social media campaign distributed primarily on YouTube and secondarily on Twitter and Facebook. Amplification took place on WhatsApp and other ‘dark social’ channels, and was supported by traditional media. It reached 51.6 million South Africans, achieved a 48% share of voice of all Springbok sponsors, and resulted in a 30% increase in sales year on year.

Objectives and aims:

The campaign’s four objectives and targets were as follows:

  • Drive brand awareness (reach of 10 million)
  • Drive brand engagement (engagement rate of 2.5%; 25 pieces of coverage)
  • Directly impact sales (R1m, earned media)
  • Build brand voice (20% share of voice of all Springbok sponsors combined during Rugby World Cup 2023)

Implementation, execution and tactics:

The video campaign was rapidly executed, beginning 10 days ahead of the Springboks’ first match at the Rugby World Cup. It was aimed at a target market of males between the ages of 24 and 35, with acknowledgement that rugby, as a unifying sport for South Africa, gave the campaign potential for a much wider audience.

The communication channels selected were YouTube (primary), Twitter and Facebook (secondary), with amplification expected to take place on WhatsApp, and support from print, online and broadcast media. The campaign strategy was to create content that would be organically shared, building the campaign and creating momentum, with no spending planned for paid media.

The videos were released weekly in the pools stage of the Rugby World Cup, ahead of each Springbok game. The first video was a teaser for the campaign, and was followed by three videos celebrating five Springbok grandmothers. Featuring an interview in their homes, family photos and video footage showing their grandsons’ achievements, the videos allowed them to speak in their own words about what being the grandmother of a Springbok player meant to them. (Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3.)

In addition to organic sharing and distribution, the series was aired with no fees on SABC, South Africa’s national broadcaster. Additional coverage and interviews were secured for the ‘GranBoks’, as the campaign dubbed them, in influential titles across the country including News24, The Citizen, IOL and The South African, exposing the campaign to these publications’ large audiences. In total, more than 100 pieces of organic media coverage were secured.


The GranBoks campaign was the best performing PR campaign in the past decade for Castle Lager, with the following results achieved:

  • 51.6 million South Africans reached
  • R4m worth of earned media with 8:1 ROI
  • 48% share of voice of all Springbok sponsors
  • 100+ pieces of media coverage
  • Zero paid media
  • 30% increase in sales YoY