Back in 2011, our Co-Founders Nick and Andrew embarked on their mission to transform the obscure African baobab fruit into a world-recognised superfood.
Why? Because if we can #MakeBaobabFamous, we can create a new industry that National Geographic estimates could be worth a billion dollars to 10 million households in rural Africa – through trade not aid.
To learn more about why we want to #MakeBaobabFamous, including baobab's amazing health benefits, watch this short video:
It has been a fun filled, super-charged and exciting journey so far and we have been overwhelmed by the sheer passion of all our amazing supporters (aka The Aduna Feel Good Tribe) who like us are determined to turn The Inspiring Possibility of Baobab into a reality.
Here is a recap of our #MakeBaobabFamous journey so far.
1. ENROLLING THE ALMIGHTY
A few years ago, before Aduna had even launched, Andrew found himself chatting to a neighbor in his local square in Primrose Hill. As usual with Andrew, the conversation soon turned to baobab. The neighbour turned out to be Suzy Menkes, the Editor of International Vogue, who was so inspired she gave Andrew a money-can't-buy opportunity to speak at The International Herald Tribune's Luxury Conference on The Promise of Africa. Bono was the speaker before and Manolo Blahnik after and the audience included 500 leaders of the world’s top luxury brands.
Aduna Co-Founder Andrew Hunt on stage at The IHT Luxury Conference, 2012
After sharing The Inspiring Possibility of Baobab with this audience, Andrew was surrounded by a hoard of willing volunteers whose imaginations had been captured. One of these turned out to be the brilliant Karen Ellis - former Global Creative Director of Hugo Boss and Estee Lauder. Inspired by our mission, Karen followed in the footsteps of other creative geniuses Phil Carter (of Carter Wong) and the Ghanaian photographer Nana Kofi Acquah in helping us create a world class brand that is far greater than the sum of its parts.
2. EDUCATING THE HEALTH SET: 1 BY 1
Having put this wondrous product into some of London’s most prestigious retailers (Liberty, Selfridges, Whole Foods, Planet Organic) in our beautiful Africa-inspired packaging, we expected it to fly off the shelves. This was not the case. Why? Because nobody knew what it was. Our business plan was in deep trouble.
The solution? We recruited a small army of passionate volunteers who camped in-stores every day for a full 6 months spreading the baobab love. We spent countless hours on social media and at shows and events all over the country educating to health loving consumers one by one about baobab.
Spreading the #baobablove at events around the world
Finally, we enrolled the press and blogospheres. The health and beauty editors of the top lifestyle media wrote articles telling their readers all about The Feel Good Fruit and Instagram went baobab-crazy.
The results? Aduna baobab went from being at risk of being de-listed to London’s best-selling superfood and we started getting phone calls from distributors all around the world (we're now sold in 18 countries).
A communications campaign of this scale would have cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, but we got it “for free”. Why? Because of The Inspiring Possibility of Baobab, of course. Now we needed to scale up.
3. PITCHING TO RICH
In the summer of 2015, we entered Virgin Media Business’s Pitch to Rich contest (now called VOOM); a gruelling nationwide public voting contest with 2,500 entrants. Rather than asking people to vote for Aduna, we created a mass enrollment campaign to #MakeBaobabFamous.
The result? The campaign went viral and we finished top of the leaderboard with 13,000 votes and 24,000 Facebook shares - and Andrew got an audience with Sir Richard Branson. Aduna walked away with a £100k marketing campaign and some very influential new friends.
But how to deploy this manna from heaven?
Aduna Co-Founders Andrew & Nick with Sir Richard Branson
4. #MAKEBAOBABFAMOUS PHASE 1
The answer came in the form of Holland & Barrett – the UK’s largest health food retailer, whose imagination was also captured by The Inspiring Possibility of Baobab.
In February 2016, after months of planning and hard work Virgin funded #MakeBaobabFamous campaign hit the High Street. Our aim was simple: to get as many people as possible to discover baobab, its amazing health benefits and its social impact potential.
All 750 UK Holland & Barrett stores participated, with more than 400 stores getting a full #MakeBaobabFamous window takeover for 5 weeks. This was backed up by a mass sharing campaign online, which included a mini baobab miracle; Holland & Barrett actually rebranded to Holland & Baobab for the duration of the campaign!
Thanks to the outstanding efforts of the Aduna Feel Good Tribe, we exceeded our wildest dreams! Our #MakeBaobabFamous hashtag was seen an incredible 20 million times on Twitter & Instagram alone. 100 million people walked past our baobalicious window takeovers. Influencers, fellow brands & our customers around the world catapulted the #baobablove even higher, bringing the total reach to a whopping 129 MILLION PEOPLE!
Now that's what we call a #BaobabBreakthrough!
To celebrate the achievement we made a short video with the campaign highlights: watch, share, enjoy :-)
THANK YOU & WHAT'S NEXT?
On behalf of the vibrant communities in Africa we represent, a huge heartfelt thank you from the whole Aduna team to everyone who has taken part in our campaign so far and helped us turn The Inspiring Possibility of Baobab into a reality.
The #MakeBaobabFamous journey has only just begun. Stay tuned by signing up to our newsletter, drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Facebook/ Twitter/Instagram @adunaworld #MakeBaobabFamous.