When you walk into Keys Communications’ offices, the street art all over the walls is the first sign that this is a business with a difference. The classic cars (real classic cars) that make up everyone’s desks is the next clue. But the real differentiator is where Keys Communications is based and who they cater to – South Africa’s largest population and biggest consumer base, the townships.
When Keys Communications launched over ten years ago, they didn’t have a client for a year. As a communications business, Kabelo Kale and his team had recognised that although South Africa’s townships are culturally rich, are home to a diverse group of South Africans, both in terms of economics and lifestyles, and have a vibe and energy that every local brand should want to tap into, the reality was that most brands were not featured in these areas.
The real estate that we associate with traditional advertising, from billboards to wrappings around office blocks, didn’t exist. Keys Communications had a different idea – why not turn walls, buildings and people’s homes into artworks that showcased brands?
It took a lot of convincing, not giving up and inviting brands into townships to get a feel for the communities they were trying to reach and the level of sophistication that the Keys Communications high-definition airbrushing crew can achieve. If it can be printed on a billboard, their team can paint it on a building and you would never notice the difference.
It’s a truly inspiring story, not only because the team continues to view townships as the most important sector of our society, economy and politics but because their ‘never say die’ attitude has connected brands with township communities in unique (and eye-catching) ways.
As Kabelo quotes Nelson Mandela: something always looks impossible until it’s done. In this case, Keys Communications started small, believed in themselves and changed the township narrative.
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