“Banned”: The word that made a South African election ad (and a message) go viral

If you take a look at the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) YouTube channel, you’ll see some decent, but generally low view counts.

A couple in the 10 000 – 20 000 range.

A few more in the 1 000 – 9 999 range.

A lot in the 100’s.

And one with almost 200 000 views.

…wait, what?

Yes, one video has almost 10x the views of any other, and it was only posted 1 week ago. How is it possible? Well, with a little help from the SABC, Facebook and the word “banned”.




The ad for, Mmusi Maimane, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) candidate for Premier in Gauteng was banned by the SABC, and the DA took to social media (and traditional media too….which quickly dubbed the video “viral”, further increasing its reach) to ensure that:

  1. The video was still seen.
  2. The censorship of the video was linked to the party’s central message about ANC corruption.
  3. They got a lot of press and support because of SABC’s action.

The result is quite possibly the most shared South African election ad ever, and the DA did a lot right to make that happen:

  1. They saw the opportunity, posted the video and shared it quickly through Facebook and Twitter, encouraging fans and followers to do the same.
  2. They included a hashtag that’s relevant to the video – #ayisafani – with all posts. That tag has been used on Twitter alone over 8,000 times. It’s now being used everywhere, from rallies to television appearances.
  3. They kept the story alive with statistics about the reach of the video, follow up videos and a giant “censored” stamp on the masthead of their Facebook page.

Will it change the results of the election, in Gauteng or across the country? No one knows. But the fact remains that this is a first for SA, and a social media lesson (for political parties and national broadcasters alike).