Kulala – Unofficial Carrier Of the ‘You Know What’


Perhaps the stand out ambush campaign of the South Africa World Cup saw low cost carrier and online ticket business Kulula challenge FIFA’s legal team and sense of humour with its cheeky ‘The unofficial carrier of the “you know what”’ campaign.


The idea behind the work was simple – leverage the World Cup by claiming not to be an official sponsor. Taglines directly and overtly referred to its ‘unofficial status. The work ran across print, radio and online platforms, as well as generating high profile PR and a great deal of controversy.


FIFA reacted by demanding the brand pull the work (developed by King James, Cape Town) and sent cease and desist orders to social media running the activity claiming it infringed the world football body’s trademark rights.


But Kulula didn’t back down too easily and responded with executions promising free flights to FIFA boss Sepp Blatter and anyone sharing his name. This angle of the story gained traction when a dog appeared on Facebook claiming to be called Sepp Blatter. The airline’s marketers jumped on this, fly the dog round the country and ran a final set of ads featuring the terrier and announcing that “Sepp Blatter flies free with us”.


Some reports suggest the campaign’s earned media coverage was worth a quarter of a million pounds and that Kulula tickets sales grew 33% during the campaign’s run (although surely that was during a demand spike rarely seen in South Africa).




A ballsy approach to guerrilla activity, this campaign deliberately ran head-first into conflict with the rights owners. If PR – coverage through controversy was the objective then it was certainly was a great success.


Since the World Cup the airline has engaged in less controversial sponsorship initiatives such as its sponsorship of the NGO Food & Trees for Africa’s Project Green and working with Children’s Haematology Oncology Clinic (CHOC) on its Cow Parade South Africa travelling art scheme.


Perhaps this change of tactics makes it hard for the public to hold anything against the brand?








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