With White Star Miss Soweto 2021 just around the corner – set for 27th November 2021 – we’re looking back at our 2020 event, and how we broke the mould of pageants for a truly spectacular event.

Find out how we kept the tradition alive, even with minimal face-to-face activity allowed during the height of the pandemic.

The Strategy

With the country in lockdown, White Star Super Maize Meal was determined to keep the tradition of the Miss Soweto campaign alive. Matriarch did not hesitate to take on this momentous project, developing an innovative approach to experiential marketing, engagement and community involvement in order to drive a successful campaign.

Flawless execution driven by comprehensive planning

Thanks to the existing platforms at our disposal, we were able to maintain high levels of engagement even through the various lockdown levels. Understanding that the lockdown would see a dramatic increase in social media engagement, this is where we focused our initial efforts – to fantastic effect.

In the run-up to the event itself, we facilitated strategic media engagements in order to court unique, earned media coverage via exclusive interviews, media speed dates and PR activations. This spurred hype around the event, and saw an innovative approach to gaining traction even in the context of the pandemic – where face-to-face interactions were limited and had to be thoroughly thought-out to achieve maximum effect.


  • Workshops for contestants
  • Media speed dates
  • Charity drive – donated a large amount of White Star Super Maize Meal to a local disadvantaged school

The impact

The pandemic response

The most fundamental level of innovation that was required was to overcome the obstacles of the pandemic and our nation’s response. At every level, we made great use of existing platforms to achieve our goals, from leveraging WhatsApp as a voting mechanism to utilising a range of formats through which to deliver high-quality content to keep our audience engaged. The social media metrics alone prove the effectiveness of this approach.

Furthermore, we were able to create substantial media hype through strategically identified media engagements and opportunities – all while maintaining strict social distancing and hygiene regulations.

Connecting a maize brand to a beauty pageant

On the surface, a maize brand and a beauty pageant are not an obvious match. From start to finish, the concept required fresh thinking in order to link the pageant back to the brand messaging. We were able to link the brand to the very nature of both Soweto and the pageant, establishing the brand as a leader in community upliftment and engagement, while creating a strong connection between the shared values of the pageant and the brand.

Owning the pageant as a vehicle for success

The pageant has become somewhat of a Soweto legacy, with 2020 seeing the 42nd pageant to date. However, no big brand was stepping up to take it to the next level, gaining recognition as a pageant to take note of.

White Star chose to own and grow the pageant; rather than merely seeing a simple sponsorship opportunity, the brand embarked on a mission to grow it as a brand asset. Now, after Miss Soweto 2020, we can confidently say that this mission was a success, and that the White Star brand grew alongside the pageant.

Bringing an important initiative to the fore

The Miss Soweto pageant is so much more than just a beauty pageant. It aims to uplift and nurture young black women, inspiring in them the confidence and skills to pursue notable careers and ambitious life paths. It allows the entire Sowetan – and indeed, South African – community to come together in a celebration of local talent, while providing a range of role models for women across the country. With contestants receiving huge support in both their personal and professional careers, and various outreach initiatives such as charity drives and events to elevate the Sowetan community as a whole, the pageant succeeded in encouraging contestants and viewers alike to pursue their dreams.

Working with White Star, we were able to breathe new life into the pageant, creating an excellent foundation upon which future pageants can build a truly South African tradition that continues to motivate and uplift the Sowetan and national community for many years to come.

Looking forward to White Star Miss Soweto 2021

With last year’s pageant seeing a monumental success, we are extremely excited for White Star Miss Soweto 2021! This year, we’re going bigger and better than ever, and we encourage everyone to follow the pageant journey on the White Star Facebook and Instagram pages.

Don’t forget to tune in to the pageant itself, seeing a celebration of everything that makes Soweto such a vibrant and beautiful place in a star-studded and festive event.

When: 27th November 2021
                8am to 5pm

Where: Soweto Theatre