Urtak Use Case # 2 - ZA NEWS marries fresh video content with Urtak polling widget


This is the story of Both Worlds, the South African production company led by Thierry Cassuto, the launch of ZA NEWS daily video programming in October 2009, and the use of Urtak for audience engagement, content development, business insights, publicity, …

In 2008, SABC declined to air on national tv the pilot show it had commissioned - ZNEWS, a satirical comedy program with larger than life latex puppets of major political and social leaders. No official response was given; however, it was probably too hot to handle. Mr. Cassuto and the world famous cartoonist Zapiro had been developing the characters and the program for more than 11 years. The program was inspired by the successful UK program Spitting Image and French prime time cable tv smash hit, Les Guignols.

Undaunted, Mr. Cassuto took to digital media to launch ZA NEWS with bold lead sponsors, kulula airlines and the Mail & Guardian Online. While building out the space, creating new characters, and assembling the talent to produce daily video puppet shows, Mr. Cassuto started to build the audience for ZA NEWS with facebook, twitter, and Urtak.

Initially, the ZA NEWS facebook page referred the 5000 fans to go to the ZA NEWS POLL on urtak.com. The eager, highly loyal fan base added questions and more than 6000 opinions in no time, providing feedback on new characters in development, controversial topics, story lines, and more. Some of the insights from Urtak were linked to twitter posts, attracting more participation.

CNN’s Robyn Curnow reported in May 2010 on ZA NEWS, the puppet show that satirizes the news and newsmakers in South Africa.

Today, ZA NEWS is preparing to launch season 3 in September 2010 with new characters and sponsors - Apple and WebAfrica join lead sponsor kulula. ZA NEWS continues to innovate. In addition to a new site and media campaign in development with Ogilvy & Mather South Africa, Mr. Cassuto continues to build audience relationships online with YouTube (775,274 upload views), Facebook (26,814 fans), twitter (1,251 followers), Urtak (468,735 opinions, 1026 questions), and, of course with fresh servings of hilarious video content, like this:


Season 1 Urtak

This Urtak poll started via a link on facebook and then was embedded as a widget on the home page of the ZA NEWS online channel: zanews.co.za It helped Both Worlds understand demographics, psychographics, biographics, and learn what questions this audience really cared about. Right away, there was serious learning from this audience for comedy programming.

The sponsors like what they learned.

The Urtak poll was incorporated as fresh content into the programming of Season 1. Each Saturday, to lead and close the show reviewing the week’s highlights, a question from the Urtak poll was featured, like this Urtak Question of the Week #8.

Urtak gave ZA NEWS fresh insights to share with a broader audience. Here’s a story from the Mail & Guardian Online, "What we learned from watching ZA NEWS."

Bottom line: Season 1 Urtak generated 346,126 opinions to 733 questions from a daily online audience of about 2,500 visitors to zanews.co.za.

Season 2 Urtak

The ZA NEWS marketing team cherry picked some of the best questions from Season 1 Urtak and seeded a new Urtak poll to embed on zanews.co.za for Season 2.

They kept track of what the audience cared about, asked development and marketing research questions, and closely followed the audience’s take on the World Cup.

Urtak’s unique capability to x-tab any 2 questions in the poll exposed surprising new ironies - funny and profound. For example, ANC supporters were 3 times more optimistic, as they were more likely to believe their home team would advance in the World Cup.

Again, the sponsors were very happy, growing with a loyal audience.

Season 3 and beyond

Season 3 will see new puppets (sorry, I can not reveal anything at this time), broader distribution of ZA NEWS branded content through the new O&M developed site, YouTube, Facebook, mobile, and sponsored events. And, Urtak will be there to continue to help engage the community, understand a lot more than bi-polar comments, and pursue real-time insights for new marketing opportunities (for more information, check with the founders at Urtak.com).


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