Ogilvy South Africa

The Slave Calendar

Iziko Museums of South Africa

The Brief

The Slave Calendar was a remarkable piece of creative work – limited edition, in large format - designed to raise awareness about Cape Town’s slave past while driving visitor numbers to the Iziko Slave Lodge Museum. An amplification campaign exposed it to 33.7 million people at zero cost. The calendar appeared on multiple front pages, street poles, national TV, three major radio stations plus top local and global news websites. All the result of brilliant creative, smart strategy and excellent media relationships. 

The Solution

This outstanding pro bono campaign moved the needle on an important social issue and boosted visitor numbers by 26%. Cape Town’s Iziko Slave Lodge Museum keeps alive the stories of 70,000 slaves brought to the C ape between 1653 and 1856, primarily from Dutch East Indies. Cape Town has many people with calendar-based surnames - September, October and November being the most common – but very few knew that this was because slaves landing here were stripped of everything including their names and were renamed after the month in which they arrived. The Slave Calendar highlighted this in a profound way by recording each month through a black-and-white portrait of a slave descendant carrying that month’s name – from John January to Regina December. The images were shot pro bono by an award-winning photographer and each photo was accompanied by a quote bringing to life that person’s relationship with their slave heritage. The calendar was limited edition, large format and not for sale. It was designed as a PR hook.