Travel
without footprints

Unfound Africa

Grindstone Advertising was approached by the client in 2017 to assist with the marketing of an island purchased in the north of Mozambique, Ilha do Fogo, as well as Pebane Beach Lodge, which was the land base for the island. At the time, the client was planning to build a 5-star, 50-bedroom, resort on the island, which was the maximum allowance detailed in an Environmental Impact Assessment.
  • THE CHALLENGE

    What started as a brief to design a website for the Fire Island Conservation project, has evolved into the management of various conservation projects and eco-tourism properties, and all of the associated digital media, advertising, CI development and print media.

  • THE SOLUTION

    We developed a comprehensive brand and digital development strategy for Fire Island Conservation, plus each of the seven lodges in Mozambique and South Africa that were subsequently acquired. Our approach included brand development, marketing management, website development, and social media that aligned with the culture and conformed to the ‘eco meets luxury’ identity. We also focused on extending the reach of the marketing efforts, through media placements and Adword management.

  • THE DELIVERY

    We rolled out the initial conservation website and social media channels, and built an effective customer following and base. We have developed each of the eco property websites, as they have been purchased for the client’s portfolio, and developed social media channels for them, or linked existing ones where required. We have also developed and designed branded products to sell, to raise funds for the conservation and community projects, while cultivating the brand identity. This ever-growing enterprise has appointed us as brand and PR managers for the entire Unfound Africa group.

  • THE RESULT

    Unfound Africa has developed into our labour of love. It is an ongoing, ever-expanding organisation, that we have been walking hand-in-hand with every step of the way. Our client depends on our constant vital input, and we continue to adapt all of the marketing media as the overarching company grows. On top of our continuous digital and brand media efforts, we have been enlisted to work on an animated feature film and a documentary that has garnered international interest.

  • OVERVIEW

    Grindstone Advertising was approached as we are a small agency, allowing us to dedicate our focus so that clients don’t just become another number, as is sometimes the case with bigger agencies. Our aim is not to get big clients but to make our clients big. 

    To gain a better understanding of the scope of the project, the challenges being faced in promoting this remote island as a destination, the logistics involved in getting guests there, the ideal target market, and what the area offers, our team joined a trip up to the island. 

    Grindstone was also actively involved in the planning, scripting, and editing of a documentary that was being filmed on the island, focusing on the conservation efforts planned in the area.

    After spending time on the island and seeing the massive devastation of marine life, the clients decided not to build the resort on the island. Instead, they adapted to focus all their efforts on establishing marine conservation and community projects on the island and its surrounding coastal communities. This was exciting news for Grindstone as we, like our client, believe conservation should be key in all business developments. As such, Fire Island Conservation was established along with Fire Island Eco Retreats – the main brand to promote tourism to the island and the fishing lodge.

    One of the major challenges faced, from a marketing perspective, was that the north of Mozambique is not well known as a tourist destination. Because of the lack of infrastructure in the area, just getting to the properties is an expensive, logistical challenge. We had to centre our efforts on niche market travel; attracting guests who share a passion for conservation and are comfortable paying premium fees to visit off-the-beaten-track, adventure travel destinations.

    In the following years, the Fire Island Eco Retreats property portfolio grew to include four luxury villas in the south of Mozambique, a lodge bordering Kruger National Park, a boutique hotel in Hout Bay, a boutique hotel in Klaarstroom, Karoo, as well as Sani Pass Tours that borders Lesotho.

  • THE CLIENT

    At the time of inception, there was no formal business registered. The Client comprised two individuals, an American investor and a South African entrepreneur.

    As the entire project was self-funded, budgets were very limited, requiring a creative approach to ensure success. Initially, the client only had Ilha do Fogo (Fire Island) in its portfolio but in 2018 purchased The Monarch Villa and Loggerhead Beach Villa. In 2020, Leatherback Beach Villa was added and shortly afterwards, Vida Nova Kruger. 2022 saw the addition of Sani Pass Tours and Klaarstroom Hotel. This meant that, in less than three years, the project grew from promoting a remote island to establishing and marketing a portfolio of properties across two countries.

  • OBJECTIVES & GOALS

    The brief was minimal and the scope of the project was unclear. The Client’s main goal was to establish a world-class offering in a unique destination, ultimately reaching the point where the operational costs would be covered by tourism to the island and allowing the investors to enjoy their piece of paradise without it being a financial burden.

  • CHALLENGES & SOLUTIONS

    The goalposts changed as the objectives shifted from a luxury island resort to an eco-friendly marine conservation-focused destination, and we repeatedly adapted our strategy to realign with new objectives. Our target market changed from romance-seeking luxury travellers to eco-conscious adventure travellers. 

    The challenges were numerous; funds were limited and shifting the focus from a high-end island resort to a more informal eco-centric establishment pursuing conservation and sustainability was not a profit-based business decision. 

    During the development phase on the island, there was political unrest in the north of Mozambique, which greatly exacerbated the challenges. Not only did Grindstone now have to promote a remote island in an unknown destination, but also promote Mozambique as a whole, nurturing confidence in the country as a safe destination for guests to travel to.

    Mozambique has not been top of mind regarding luxury destinations and the country itself has never succeeded in promoting itself globally. Consequently, Grindstone’s challenges were increasing, but the budget was not.

     

    And then came Covid. We’ll avoid delving into details of the challenges created by this global pandemic, but this set all our efforts back by years and caused a halt to the island’s development. During this time  Fire Island Eco Retreats grabbed the opportunity to increase its property portfolio by purchasing the properties mentioned above.

  • STRATEGY & PLANNING

    Where Ilha do Fogo was concerned, the strategy involved a PR campaign to draw attention to a remote area in north Mozambique by establishing conservation projects and collaborating with global conservation partners. Grindstone Advertising assisted in the creation of Fire Island Conservation, a Non-Profit company focused solely on the conservation and community projects.

    The Unique Selling Point of the island is not the luxury accommodation. The accommodation is a basic safari-tented camp. The USP is offering guests the opportunity to dive 150 kilometres of uncharted reefs. To get up close to critically endangered marine life. To experience an unexplored area. To be the first to SCUBA and explore unknown reefs and wrecks. 

    The project started as a once-off involvement, to help establish a name, corporate identity, website, and digital marketing campaigns, for what were then, only Mozambican-based properties. 

    In 2018., Fire Island Eco Retreats was born, deriving from Ilha do Fogo (island of fire), to promote the Mozambique properties.

    With the inclusion of the South African properties, the name Fire Island Eco Retreats no longer made sense as it was too location-specific. Grindstone Advertising came up with a strategy to rebrand the entire group. To give it a name that is not location specific and in one word, conveys the message that the portfolio consists of properties in unknown, remote areas, off-the-beaten-track, but all in bucket list African destinations. A name that can grow with the business as it evolves. A name that will resonate with adventurous, high-end travellers.

    That saw the birth of Unfound Africa.

    Our approach included brand development, marketing management, website development, and social media that aligned with the culture and conformed to the ‘eco meets luxury’ identity. We also focused on extending the reach of the marketing efforts, through media placements and Adword management.

  • CREATIVE CONCEPT

    The brand development involved meticulous research and stress testing to ensure that it would resonate with its market. With Grindstone’s expertise in the travel and hospitality industry, and leaning on industry experts, our final creative concept conveyed luxury and exclusivity, while keeping it minimalist, enticing the user to want to learn more.

    Our messaging is clear, concise, and educated, aimed at high-net-worth individuals and ecocentric wanderlust enthusiasts.

    With the business’ fast-evolving approach, the NPO, Fire Island Conservation, also quickly outgrew its name, as its conservation efforts extended to include projects and areas outside of Ilha do Fogo, garnishing international researcher attention. From here, it was decided to rebrand Fire Island Conservation and thus saw the birth of Earth Legacy Foundation.

    Earth Legacy Foundation’s creative approach was much more aligned with the ethos and values of Unfound Africa.

  • EXECUTION

    Grindstone Advertising rolled out the initial conservation website and social media channels, and built an effective following and customer base. We have developed each eco property website, as they have been purchased for the client’s portfolio, and created social media channels for them, or linked existing ones where required. We have also developed and designed branded products to sell, to raise funds for the conservation and community projects, while cultivating the brand identity. This ever-growing enterprise has appointed us as brand and PR managers for the entire Unfound Africa group.

Corporate Identity

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