Updated: May 20, 2020

The conversation around drinking and driving in South Africa reached new heights this week thanks to a bold campaign launch from Joburg-based agency, Riverbed, on behalf of the Association for Alcohol Responsibility and Education (aware.org).

When social media posts started to appear announcing the launch of the One on Nicol pop-up drive-through bar on William Nicol Drive in Sandton, the response was immediate. Although some people seemed excited by the opportunity to stop for a quick drink on the way home from work, others were outraged. Many instantly quoted alcohol-induced road death stats, while others posted facts around legal alcohol limits and multiple other reasons why encouraging ‘one for the road’ was a bad idea.

However, on the day of the launch, it was revealed that the pop-up bar had been an elaborate ruse to kick off Riverbed’s through-the-line “Re-think” campaign for aware.org. aimed at getting all drinkers to reconsider their drink-driving choices. Judging by the comments from social audiences and media since the reveal, the activation has more than achieved its objectives, not only in reviving the conversation around drunk driving in South Africa, but in getting people to reappraise their own denial and double standards around casual drinking and driving.

“When the brief came in for aware.org’s festive season campaign, we knew that a traditional radio and OOH approach wouldn’t be enough to achieve our campaign objectives, especially for a well-trodden issue like drinking and driving,” says Riverbed ECD, Bridget Johnson. “Getting attention at a busy time of the year, on a familiar issue, would be tough, so we chose a route that was truly social media-led, allowing the campaign to be defined by our audience.”

It was risky but the risk seems to be paying off with the launch alone achieving exceptional results over a 48-hour period. The pop-up bar was televised live on eNCA and covered on other broadcast and online channels, while unprecedented social media interactions have been recorded with a still-climbing PR reach.

“As a large-scale festive campaign running until mid- January, so far “Re-think” has been an ideal opportunity for us to demonstrate our company commitment to ‘creating brand experiences people want to spend time with,” comments Monalisa Zwambila, Riverbed CEO. “it wouldn’t have been possible, however, without the vision and partnership of a brave client, Ingrid Louw, CEO of aware.org”.

This isn’t the first collaboration between aware.org and Riverbed. The agency was responsible for the Loerie-nominated “Choices” campaign earlier this year, as well as the relaunch of the aware.org brand towards the end of 2017. As a fully integrated agency, Riverbed offers PR and eventing services as well as creative digital and TTL capabilities. It’s also the biggest 100% black woman owned agency in the country, making it no wonder that Riverbed has been named Agency to Watch by Marklives for two years running.

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