The Trillion dollar campaign

Wilf and Trish Mbanga, founders of The Zimbabwean were forced to flee Zimbabwe in 2003. For years they'd been reporting on how the Mugabe regime had rigged elections, destroyed the opposition and collapsed the economy.

The Mugabe regime wasn't happy about it. So they outlawed independent media in Zimbabwe.

Publishing in exile in South Africa, The Zimbabwean became even more popular and gained readership. Year after year.

Then came the 2008 Presidential elections between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai. Mugabe failed to secure 50% plus one, making a second round of elections necessary.

Mugabe and his pals were pissed. They blamed the The Zimbabwean for their losses in the Presidential elections. So the Government punished the newspaper with a 70% 'luxury' import tax.

And thanks to the 70% 'luxury' import tax, most Zimbabweans now couldn't afford to buy the newspaper.

Suddenly The Zimbabwean started struggling to survive. Advertisers in South Africa didn't take the newspaper seriously anymore. Because no one was buying it.

The Zimbabwean was in deep trouble.

What could they do to save the newspaper?

To raise international awareness of this situation, The Zimbabwean and their ad agency TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris came up with an unusual solution: An outdoor ad campaign.

They called it the Trillion Dollar campaign.

Here's what they did. Zimbabwe’s official inflation rate had surged to 231,000,000% in October 2008.


Zimbabwe’s currency, the Zimbabwean dollar, was literally a worthless currency. So they used trillion Zimbabwean dollar notes to create billboards, murals and posters.

Their message was, "Thanks to Mugabe this money is wallpaper."

A brilliant example of Show, don't tell.

Your pal,

Miguel Ferreira
Founder & Chief Copywriter, Teardwn + Nishi + Jack Had A Groove FM

This newsletter is brought to you by Teardwn: A Copywriting Agency For Bootstrapped Startups, Marketing Agencies & Small Businesses who want to GROW & COMPETE With the Big Guys.