Most billboards feature a message from a brand. But what if a billboard could also be useful? What if it could feed people? On October 16 2013, in honour of World Food Day, Ideas Agency OwenKessel and experiential agency Levergy, helped South Africa’s number one food brand, KOO, make history as the three companies pledged their commitment to help alleviate hunger by creating South Africa’s first edible billboard.

OwenKessel and Levergy took on the challenge and approached KOO, South Africa’s favourite brand, with the concept of an edible billboard. The campaign continues the KOO’s promise of giving back to disadvantaged communities as they urged South Africans to do the same.

The activation unfolded in the Dobsonville Shopping Mall Parking lot between 9am and 12pm and it didn’t take long before all the 2104 cans were handed out revealing the message, “KOO, helping to feed a nation”. The mechanic saw members of the community lining up as volunteers positioned on a structure just below the billboard pulled the cans down from a chute-like structure and handed them out to the enthusiastic crowds. As each can was removed, another took its place until all the KOO cans were depleted.

A portion of the cans donated for the billboard were matched with Tiger Brand food parcels which were donated to the existing community feeding project – The African Children Feeding Scheme (ACFS) – in Soweto, which celebrated its 10-year partnership with Tiger Brands this year. The donated KOO cans will assist in feeding up to 30,987 children daily and will form part of the 1,238 food parcels which are distributed to families on a monthly basis.

Justin Rosenburg, Operations Director of Levergy, the experiential activation company who coordinated the construction of the billboard commented: “When OwenKessel briefed us about the concept, we thought, how can we best leverage off this idea and make something that could change the way South Africa looks at advertising. There was a lot of planning that went into the mechanic, from a health and safety perspective and a brand point of view. We could not have anticipated a better result, nor could we be prouder of the outcome.”

Alex Mathole, Group Executive: Corporate Affairs, Tiger Brands said, “KOO is humbled and proud to have not only made history with South Africa’s first edible billboard but the brand also made a significant statement around South Africa’s very real hunger crisis by proactively engaging with those fighting the battle of breadline status. OwenKessel provided the perfect conduit for us to kick-start KOO’s community awareness initiatives, which will see KOO helping to feed the Rainbow Nation’s less fortunate.”

The agencies hope that the KOO Edible Billboard campaign will mobilise other South African brands to embrace the spirit of giving back.