Nissan and TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris hacked Waze’s ‘personal voice recorder’ feature to create a new set of commands using the isiZulu language. The re-recorded commands use a unique form of Zulu onomatopoeia to help users identify the dangers on the road by actually hearing the danger inside every word to further reduce the chances of negative incidents on the roads. The shareable Shwii by Nissan file allowed the car brand to provide all South African drivers access to unique tech, by capitalizing on the real-time data generated on the Waze platform.

Navigation app Waze is used by more than 800,000 South African users and 100,000 daily users. It collects user-generated data on traffic and road conditions from its active communities and immediately analyses that data to provide other Wazers with the most optimal route. It also helps users navigate their way on their journey safely, by avoiding dangers on the road.

You can use Waze in 98 languages locally, including Arabic, Mandarin and even a boy band. But in South Africa, it was still not available in the mother tongue. Zulu (20.6% of pop.) is the most widely spoken home language in SA, but Waze uses English (6.6% of pop.) and Afrikaans (10% of pop.) as the only local options.

To collaborate directly with Waze would have required an initial cost of $75,000 and lasted just two weeks. We needed to find a more economical option which could last longer than the two week period. Waze’s voice recorder allows users to record their own commands. So we developed a set of 41 key Zulu voice-assist navigation commands; and resulted in a shareable link accessed via the Waze app from which users can download Zulu commands in male or female voice options. This entire production cost less than $5,000.

As any global brand, the ability to resonate with a local audience is always a challenge. By developing a campaign that literally speaks one of 11 local languages, Nissan was able to create a great sense of local understanding based on strong local insights that tap into the isiZulu language. Shwii by Nissan is an extension of what the brand stands for, by using technology.