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Branding News South Africa

Part 2: South Africa Speaks: BAV Top 20 Playtime Brands in 2024: PlayStation leads the way

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the notion of 'play' has steadily increased and come into prominence, citing not only the cognitive benefits but also the value of play in our emotional well-being.
Source: © 123rf  PlayStation leads the way in Mzanzi in SA Top 20 Play Brandscape
Source: © 123rf 123rf PlayStation leads the way in Mzanzi in SA Top 20 Play Brandscape

As the focus on mental health continues, the days of play reserved for children have also long gone. Adults yearn to connect with their inner kids, and stimulate their imaginations, creativity and need for escape.

Sir Patrick Bateson, Professor of Ethology at Cambridge University, says “A strong case can be made for the role of play and playfulness in enabling people to have more enjoyable lives but also becoming more productive”.

The notion of play

As such the notion of ‘play’ has become more important as shown in VML Intelligence’s Age of Re-enchantment global study which found people are “almost twice as many people say they are likely to buy from brands that bring them a sense of joy (49%) or those that surprise and delight them (45%) than from brands that just do what they say they will (26%)”.

Brands need to help consumers transcend tough times by offering “the thrilling, the uplifting, the awe-inspiring, and the magical” – which can give a whole new perspective on being a purposeful brand.

What brands are delivering on this according to 12,500 South Africans sampled?

To answer we can break the results into:

  1. Play Brands: Those who actively engage South Africans for enjoyment and recreation.
  2. Playful Brands: Those who give or express please and amusement.
  3. SA Top 20 Play Brandscape

    The act of play starts with something physical to interact with or becomes the gateway to a new world of imagination. Therefore it’s no surprise South Africans placed console developers at the top of their list, with PlayStation leading the way in Mzanzi.

    What the Top 20 Play Brands all have in common is their creativity and ability to be fun.

    1PlayStation (Video Game Console Co)
    2Disney (Games and Toys)
    3Xbox (Video Game Console)
    4FIFA (Sport Game by EA)
    5Call of Duty (Battle/ Shooter Game by Microsoft)
    6Nintendo (Video Game & Console Co)
    7Super Mario (Arcade Game by Nintendo)
    8WWE (Sport Game by Visual Concepts & 2K)
    9Rockstar Games (Action video Games include GTA & Max Payne)
    10Barbie (Toy by Mattel)
    11Fortnite (Strategy/ Survival Game BY Epic Games)
    12Minecraft (Sandbox Game by Microsoft)
    13Pokémon GO (AR Adventure Game by Niantic & Nintendo)
    14League of Legends (Battle Game by Riot Games)
    15Konami (Yu-Gi-Oh! & Pro Evolution Soccer)
    162k Sports (NBA & WWE Sport Games)
    17Fisher Price (Edu Toys)
    18Among Us (Sci-Fi Strategy Game by Innersloth)
    19Play Doh (Toy by Hasbro)
    20Hasbro (Toys including Nerf, My Little Pony & Peppa Pig)

    While gaming, particularly sport, battle and strategy, has taken over the notion of ‘play’ in South Africa, some toys are still around or gaining prominence thanks to the influence of toy manufacturers pivoting into popular culture.

    After painting the world pink with her movie, Barbie saw a 13% positive year-on-year impact on South Africans' lives, while Lego, which hasn’t had a film since 2019, saw an almost equal decrease year-on-year.

    Interestingly, should AI be thrown into the mix under the definition of ‘play’, owing to its interactive and imaginative abilities, South Africans would place ChatGPT in fifth position, knocking down the likes of Call of Duty, Nintendo and Barbie.

    SA Top 20 Playfulness Brandscape: Be Fun & Friendly

    Not all brands are gaming or toy brands nor do they have to be to take part in the Age of Re-enchantment.

    The study goes onto say that while people want some magic, “70% of people say they can’t remember the last time a brand did anything that excited them”.

    So which brands are considered the most playful according to South Africans in 2024?

    1Tik Tok
    2PlayStation (Video Game Console Co)
    3Comedy Central
    4Super Mario
    5Pokémon Go
    7Stumbo Pops
    9Jelly Tots
    10Channel O
    11Call of Duty
    12Rockstar Games
    14Disney Plus
    15MTV Base
    16Pin Pop
    19Rugby World Cup
    20Fizz Pop

    Overall the most playful brands South Africans appreciate are brands that go beyond comedy to include a brand range including Social Media, Music, Sport, Candy and yes even gaming.

    Despite the category, South Africans use these brands to define playful brands as having the foundations of fun and friendliness.

    Mzanzi goes on to further define the unique attributes of each category:

    • Sweets have an additional layer of cool.
    • Music has an additional layer of sociability.
    • Gaming has an additional layer of creativity (as shown above).
    • Sport has an additional layer of energy.

    As we move deeper into 2024, along with the many potential tough times ahead for South Africa and the world, we can redefine 'play' as a sense of deep need and potential purpose for a brand.

    It’s crucial in the volatile environment we find ourselves in. So lets go play!

    About BAV

    WPP backs BAV. It measures brands in the broader brandscape of people’s minds – it shows where a brand sits in the collective culture, rather than limiting the study to how a brand is perceived versus its direct competitors.

    BAV has over 20 years of data on the SA Brandscape and its partnership with academics like the University of Oxford, London Business School, Wharton, and Berkeley Haas (to name a few).

    The South Africa Speaks series is named due to the demographic accuracy of BAV’s research across provinces, languages, genders and generations.

    Look out for the next in this Series of three articles, South Africa Speaks: BAV Top 20 Mobility Brands in 2024.

About Dono White

Dono White is the strategic planning director at VMLY&R and WPP BAV South Africa champion.

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