SA’s first made-for-mobile soapie

24 June 2008

In a first for South African media, cellular operator Vodacom is launching SoLikeLife, an ad-sponsored soap opera produced for viewing on cellphones and available exclusively through the company’s Vodafone live! service.

In a statement issued this week, producers Ochre Media say the soapie will be available for download free of charge to some 1.7-million subscribers to the Vodafone live! service, providing mass exposure for the advertising sponsor – in this case, Finnish cellular technology company Nokia.

“It is incredibly exciting for us to be able to offer our customers the first South African soapie designed for cellphones and, moreover, because the mobi-soap is ad-sponsored, Vodacom customers can watch it free of charge,” says Vodacom South Africa MD Shameel Joosub.

Mobile advertising is defined as a personal, always-on, presented at the point of creative impulse and the first media where the audience can be accurately identified – a unique new advertising channel just as effective as television.

“There are more cellphones in the world than all televisions and PCs combined and mobile is emerging as the seventh mass medium for marketers,” Joosub says. “It rivals print, recordings, cinema, radio, TV and internet mediums due to its wide reach, and for the first time provides a comparable channel to outdoor advertising.”

Joosub pointed out that mobile media was quickly becoming a massively customised media form, with the cellphone at the cutting edge of the revolution, and that it was part of Vodacom’s strategy to diversify into multimedia.

Twenty-something South Africans

SoLikeLife tells the story of two 20-something South Africans who meet, fall in love and are drawn into a relationship, within a virtual world that plays out on the cellphone.

The soap starts by introducing viewers to Brad, the lead singer for Paradox and Tahnia, the ultimate good time girl, as they’re partying at a nightclub, when a turn of fate forces them to connect physically, emotionally and “cellaphonically”. For Brad, it’s love at first sight, but for Tahnia, Brad’s just another guy who she believes won’t be any different from the rest.

“Although the storyline contains all the elements of a traditional soapie, including drama, romance and comedy, SoLikeLife breaks all the conventions of traditional TV as it is presented from the perspective of the two central characters,” Ochre Media says, adding that it offers a “fly-on-the-wall, voyeuristic perspective of a relationship unfolding in a digital age.”

The first series of the mobi-soap consists of 40 episodes, running for two months, with one new episode added daily from Monday to Friday. Each previous “mobisode” will remain available for viewing.

Vodafone live! subscribers can choose to view the story as it unfolds, free of charge, by downloading a new episode to their 2.5G- or 3G-enabled phones daily, from the Celeb & Entertainment section.

Alternatively other Vodacom customers and non-Vodacom customers can send an SMS with the keyword “SSL” to 31116, charged at 50 cents per SMS, to receive a link to the content.

SAinfo reporter

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