MWEB “Witchcraft” Radio Ad



Something fun for a Friday! This radio ad by M&C Saatchi Abel Cape Town calls on the coven of Gwadana Forest to advertise MWEB’s affordable Internet package. About the ad:


isiXhosa speakers inhabit two worlds at the same time – the traditional and modern. Modern technology such as the Internet comfortably co-exists with the notion of witchcraft being real.


To make isiXhosa-speaking consumers (the 2nd largest language group in South Africa) aware of their affordable Internet package, MWEB tapped into Xhosa folklore. Gwadana Forest is an area in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, that is prevalent in Xhosa folklore as being a gathering place for witches. They are rumoured to travel there in the dead of night on iiketshi (witch transportation devices). If these witches had access to MWEB Internet, what would they use it for?


The ad uses this idea of witchcraft in a contemporary setting in a tongue-in-cheek manner, allowing the MWEB Internet offer to be presented using cultural capital that resonates with potential consumers.




Executive Creative Director: Gordon Ray
Copywriter: Jabulani Sigege
Agency Producer: Bronwyn Henry
Recording Studio: We Love Jam
Music & Sound Composition: Arnold Vermaak
Performance: Verah Jones / Bella Soqele / Anele Mtoti



  1. From an ad perspective I think this is lovely.
    However, from a social perspective I think it could possibly be a little dangerous. Especially considering the whole witch hunting thing.

  2. Chest Rockwell

    I think it’s very funny, and i love how it is in pure isiXhosa – no slang or bastardisation. It reminds me of ‘amabali’ – the radio dramas you would hear on Umhlobo Wenene (then called Radio Xhosa) – those were, and still are, a staple of a majority Xhosa speakers. The witchcraft mythos/folklore insight is a powerful one to use, especially like this.

    As for the “witch hunting thing”, that used to happen in Limpopo mostly – that is not where amaXhosa stay.

  3. Are you being ridiculous?
    We live in a country where it is very well-known how easily influenced people are. Making statements with reference to “witches turning people into zombies”, is asking with fire and an an open invitation to those easily influenced, afraid of, and already under misconception of what witchcraft is about.
    In any way, one does not “turn humans” into zombies, one raises the already dead in order to create zombies.
    Badly done MWeb, careless and not well thought through at all.

  4. ChristopherBlackwell

    Falsely calling people witches when they are not and falsely claiming that they do black magic is insane in a country where witch hunts against innocent people still goes on.

    Even ad companies should research what subjects they use and not publish harmful lies.

  5. I first read the comments before listening to the ad, and I expected the worst. But I was pleasantly surprised. The ad made me break out in laughter. I even I played it over the phone for my mother and father (who are from rural Alice, in the the Eastern Cape) and instead of rushing out to find the nearest witch to burn, they just laughed so hard.

    Dee & Christopher Blackwell, I’d just like to ask: Do you understand Xhosa? Do you understand Xhosa culture? Have you ever listened to radio dramas on Radio Xhosa, such as Gonondo?

    No wonder ads targeted at black people are just filled with “Hawu! /Eish! / Yoh!” and people dancing for banking services and chicken. That’s always going to be the outcome if people with your paternalistic, culturally ignorant mentality are making them. You seem to think all black people are easily swayed and superstitious fools, and don’t know what a joke is. Shame on you.

    This ad is a breath of fresh air. I’m tired of ads that talk to black people like they’re mentally challenged. We have different cultures and the person who did this clearly knows their stuff about Xhosa culture and how our humour works. There’s no “one size fits all” solution. I wish there were more ads like this.

    Oh, and Dee, thank you for your lesson on zombies – but the closest translation for the word “isithunzela” (as used in the ad) is “zombie”. And there’s a slightly different meaning in Xhosa for it.

  6. Carol-Ann Myers

    This is a brilliant ad!

    Dee & Christopher you’re not the target audience here! Sit down! As for Damon Leff, you sir, are being very petty and spiteful. While you are at it, please lodge a complaint about those ads that are ridiculing Black folk hey?!

  7. LOL – that is funny! I love it… I liked the reference to folklore and the familiar mythical wizard uJambase (yup – the very same one who messes with a young maiden’s mojo so that she remains a spinster into old age). As a Xhosa speaker I get it, & I would love to share it amongst my circles because this is not an ad that just limits artist(s) to single-syllable onomatopoetic words for the amusement of people that can’t speak “Khoza” (which would be isiXhosa). Or are we actually trying to stiffle creativity that doesn’t come in our preferred medium of communication?!? I guess its true what they say; “isiXhosa asitolikwa!”

  8. gonondo omkhulu

    Funny how everyone who understands the advert has nothing but praise for it. As an easily influenced Xhosa speaker, this ad(and the Gonondo mention) brought a smile to my face.
    I hope this ad will set a standard for the quality of ad that we expect from here on out.
    In too good a mood to engage the naysayers(been singing the Gonodo theme song for the last 2 minutes), so all I’ll say to them is, “MNXIM”.

  9. Dee & Damon you guys should chill really, you blowing this way out of proportion. As a Xhosa and ad guy I don’t blame you though for your lack of understanding and affinity towards this spot, its clear you lack insight into the Xhosa culture & Folklore. This radio is a great idea driven by insight into target audience and the product. Personally I think this radio spot brings across humour in a clever manner which fuses the product features and taps into Xhosa folklore . I’m glad i’m not witnessing another ad which just uses Ola,Eita,Eish,Yoh and people think those spots are brilliant of which they’re not. Personally i think that’s just plain laziness from the creatives who lack understanding and insight into the target audience, anyway that’s another topic for another day.

  10. Awesome ad this is a refreshing using black culture without resorting to the typical stereotypes. By listening to it you can tell that its got some good insight even my mother can enjoy it.

  11. This ad made me laugh so hard yet I still got the message it was trying to bring across. People these days are too sensitive; I doubt that this ad is going to illicit a witch-hunt as per some of the previous comments. It’s clever, funny and doesn’t speak down to me as a Xhosa speaking individual. It’s incredibly refreshing and brings a smile to my face to imagine witches and wizards connecting over the net/ casting spells rather than converging in Gwadana – moving with the times so to speak. If you read the English translations of what is being said in the ad you lose the Xhosa nuances that make it so witty

  12. Dee, Christopher and Damon you guys need to relax. I’m sure your lack of understanding of the target market has a significant impact on your not so well thought out criticisms.

    I’m not sure where to start, but for one would like to know if you actually understand the advert or just what was explained above? In most cases when indigenous languages are translated into English, it’s unfortunate that the meaning is sometimes lost and does not have as much an impact as it does in the indigenous language. So my advice to you is go get some Xhosa lessons first, then listen to the advert again. Thereafter let me know if you still wish to partake in a little witch hunt.

    Its one of the better ads I’ve heard recently, loads of creativity and not just some suit who thought throwing in the same old, eish, yoh, mmawe, ola, eita was going to resonate with the target market.

  13. This is one of the most funny ads I’ve heard in a while. Big up to Jambase!!

    I don’t get the criticism from the 1st few comments, I don’t find anything socially wrong with it, as for black folk being ‘easily influenced’ by this ad is just ridiculous and down right stupid to say the least. Fellow white folk, please do your research before you comment on things you know little about.

  14. hey like look at us troll our own work on heye!!
    it so awesome!! and rad!! and like totally funny!!

  15. I am a Xhosa and I like totally think this should win a Loerie New Voice award and stuff

  16. It’s brilliant. But I didn’t write it at all. Honest.