The Opportunity

In 2015, research conducted by South African Tourism (SAT) revealed that American travelers were increasingly seeking destinations rich in cultural history as well as experiences that create deeper education and meaning in life.
Identifying the 25th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison as an event that would appeal to these travelers’ motivations, SAT sought to create a campaign anchored around Mandela (Madiba) and the sites of significance to his life and legacy in order to:

  • Increase awareness of South Africa’s rich cultural product

  • Drive interest in South Africa’s iconic attractions and meaningful interactions with locals

  • Highlight Madiba-designed itineraries and inspire travel

  • Drive downloads of a new Madiba’s Journey mobile app


The Campaign

Sparkloft designed the #MeetSouthAfrica: Madiba’s Journey influencer campaign to bring the app experience to life while expressing the meaningful nature of a trip to South Africa. To do so, the program identified four U.S. influencers to trace Mandela’s footsteps across South Africa and explore the destination through their unique cultural lenses—style (@BlakeVond), design (@Dabito), travel (@CestChristine), and yoga/wellness (@GypsetGoddess).

The influencers shared their experiences in real time posting photos to their own Instagram accounts as well as SAT’s account. Photos were curated and published across all of SAT’s social channels and a Sparkloft videographer captured footage for a #MeetSouthAfrica video series. Paid social advertising boosted impressions and reach of the campaign content across multiple channels.

The Results

The #MeetSouthAfrica Influencer Program delivered over a 400% return on the client’s investment. This HSMAI Platinum Adrian Award-winner also saw:

  • 139 shared photos, generating over 15.4 million impressions and 178K engagements
  •  The @VisitSouthAfrica Instagram account grew by over 30% and engagement on the account rose over 54%
  • Globally, during the 2-week duration of the tour the #MeetSouthAfrica hashtag generated over 26 million impressions (7 million more impressions per week than average)
  • Influencers published 10 blog posts for a combined readership of over 60,000
  • Earned media attention on and Yahoo Style as well as social re-grams by Condé Nast Traveler and the popular online community for African American travelers, Travel Noire
  • 528,486 cross-platform video views