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Online comments ran from happiness to sorrow, and everything in between. It was the sort of emotional display routinely witnessed when major television channels announce they are pulling the plug on one of their flagship shows.

But it was nothing of the kind.

The final episode of Maggi’s first web series, Yelo Pèppè, had just finished airing in 25 countries across Central and West Africa. The show had gathered an impressive 20.3 million views on Nestlé’s social media platforms and generated a substantial level of online engagement across Francophone and Anglophone Africa.

Maggi Yelo Peppe

Yelo Pèppè is the latest example of Nestlé’s innovative ways of connecting with today’s consumers, whose changing media consumption habits are forcing companies like Nestlé to rethink the rules of customer engagement.

Set in contemporary Africa, Yelo Pèppè brings together five women from five countries across Central and West Africa, each with a different relationship to cooking and food, in a series combining engaging storytelling with nutrition and cooking guidance.

Maggi is all about promoting healthy home cooking using local produce, and this series allowed us to bring Maggi’s brand purpose to life in an engaging way”, said Dominique Allier, Business Executive Officer for Culinary at Nestlé Central & West Africa, who oversaw the Yello Pèppè campaign.

A digital-series only, Yelo Pèppè was broadcast over a three-month period on Youtube and Facebook, two platforms very popular in Africa among the younger generation, with three new 13-minute episodes released each week featuring a different healthy recipe. The show also didn’t shy away from touching on societal issues, such as pay equality, unwanted attention in the workplace, or the changing role of women in African society.

Pushing the (local) envelope

In many ways, Yelo Pèppè’s campaign is a textbook example of a global brand going local to connect more intimately with its consumers. The production of the screenplay was commissioned to an award-winning Ghanaian female director, while the show starred emerging TV and movie talents from the region.

“Until not long ago, TV shows were imported from Latin America and India, but locally-produced soap operas shows featuring local actors have really taken off,” said Dominique. “We were the first one to embrace a pure fiction format in this market.”

The move paid off. Yelo Pèppè quickly turned into a regional hit to eventually become the most watched web series in Francophone Africa during the Ramadan season.

Digital as the way forward

Yelo Pèppè is not Maggi’s first foray into educational and entertainment-based digital contents.

In the Middle East, the brand had launched Maggi Diaries, a web series featuring real people, providing practical cooking tips and advice to help mothers keen to see their children embrace a more balanced diet.

Kitchen Journeys was also rolled out in India, chronicling the stories of twelve Indian women who have transformed their lives through cooking. Each episode was linked to an online training course aimed at empowering women to start their own food venture.

Across the Nestlé Group, brands are embracing new approaches to connect with a generation of digitally savvy consumers, meeting them on their own turf. With an increasing number of brands taking to digital platforms, many are using “edutainment” – material that is educational and entertaining at the same time – to get their messages across.

For now, Yelo Pèppè fans can rejoice: they’ll be served up a second series of delicious, healthy recipes, and intrigue!