Yuppiechef holds Woolies Lovebird ransom

Update 14/02/2010: We hit R100,000!
Update 12/02/2010: Fin24 donates R10k & challenges others
Update 10/02/2010: Standard Bank Group gives Soil for Life R10,000
Update 09/02/2010: Sanlam Developing Markets donates R10,000
Update 05/02/2010: Philips donates R10,000
Update 02/02/2010: Woolies breaks down in tears

Latest press coverage (they’re having a field day)

So this weekend we were wandering through Woolworths and came across their exciting Woolies Lovebird competition, advertised throughout their national network of stores on big posters (thanks for the pic @TalyaGoldberg).

It really is an exciting competition, and we wanted in, so we went online to check it out: www.woolieslovebird.co.za… just as the poster says. But the URL was not registered. What they meant to write was www.woolieslovebirds.co.za. We can only assume that the hangovers from the Woolies New Year’s parties were the cause for this little oversight. So we did something sneaky: we registered it and now we’re holding it ransom.

To get it back, and have us point the address to their competition asap, we’re asking Woolies to match, rand for rand, all donations made towards our 2010 charity, Soil for Life, between now and Valentines Day (and to be nice, we’ll put a limit of R5000 on it). Sound good? Excellent. So we invite all our fans to go ahead and donate R25 or more to support a great cause and make Woolies pay or the lovebirds get it 😉

Donate now to Soil for Life


UPDATE: 2 February 2010: TOTAL R9,000

Woolies has broken down in tears and has begged for their lovebirds back. Not only have they agreed to pay the ransom, they have volunteered an extra R2500 towards Soil for Life! Even better, they’ve allowed us to hold onto the web address because they believe this is such a worthy cause – hooray! So donate now to save the lovebirds;)

And if you’re a real lovebird, fly away and be free: www.woolieslovebirds.co.za


UPDATE: 5 February 2010: TOTAL R50,600

After our interview this morning on 94.7 Highveld with Jeremy Mansfield, Philips South Africa got hold of us and said they would match a further R10,000 in donations! Thank you, Philips. We are moved. In addition to R5,000 donated by fans this morning since the show, KitchenAid South Africa lent their support and added R2,000 to the pot. If we added more exclamation marks to this paragraph it would start to look silly.

Total raised at the time of writing: R33,100 + R7,500 Woolies Ransom + R10,000 Philips contribution: R50,600!

UPDATE: 9 February 2010: TOTAL R66,600

Sanlam Developing Markets called us this morning saying that they have just deposited R10,000 in our account towards Soil for Life! Thank you, Sanlam Developing Markets. Once again we are stunned by the generosity of people out there. Many other people have contributed in the last few days to raise our total to R66,000!

UPDATE: 10 February 2010: TOTAL R79,000

Standard Bank Group (@StandardBankGrp) announced today on their blog that they are contributing R10,000 to Soil for Life! Incredible. Thank you Standard Bank Group. Read about it here: http://bit.ly/a716SJ. Total now R79,000.

UPDATE: 12 February 2010: TOTAL R92,000

Just received a call this morning from Hayely at Fin24 (@Fin24) saying that they are going to donate R10,000 as well and put the challenge out there other companies in their industry to do the same! Here’s what they had to say:

Fin24.com challenge all media companies, and everyone linked to the industry including our readers, advertising and media agencies, PR companies and investor relations firms to, ahem, dig deep and see love, and gardens, blossom this Valentine’s Day through Soil for Life.

Wow! Total sitting at R92,000. 2 days to go…

UPDATE: 14 February 2010: TOTAL R100,050

With 56 minutes to go before the close of Valentine’s day, the donations to Soil for Life from Yuppiechef fans hit the R100,000 mark. Absolutely incredible. For a project that started with a target of R5,000, we have been humbled by your generosity and support. Thank you Yuppiechef fans!

Press Coverage

A big shout out to everyone in the press who has covered this story to date. The requests for interviews in print, radio and TV are coming in thick and fast. This is fantastic for Soil for Life, it’s fantastic for us and in a way it’s even pretty cool for Woolies. Anyone who needs more info can contact me (I am Paul) on media@yuppiechef.com. Here are a few of the highlights of the week.

Paul interviewed on Media & Money on CNBC Africa

Mashudu Masutha chats to Paul about the ransom. Watch it here if the video below doesn’t play.

94.7 Highveld’s Rude Awakening with Jeremy Mansfield

Jeremy interviews Paul and gives us a huge punt at the peak of rush hour traffic on Johannesburg’s biggest show.
Highveld 94.7 Jeremy Mansfield & Paul Galatis by Yuppiechef

Cape Talk: John Cherry breaks the story

Cape Talk 3/02/2010, John Cherry speaks about the Woolies Ransom by Yuppiechef

SAFM: Michelle Constant interviews Paul about the ransom

SAFM 6/02/2010, Michelle Constant interviews Paul about the ransom by Yuppiechef

Mail & Guardian Online

Woolies campaign ‘hijacked’

The Daily Maverick

Ambush marketers hold Woolworths to ransom, and get some lovin’ in return

My Digital Life

Woolworths Goes Web 2.0 For Valentine’s Campaign


SA online retailer holds Woolworths to ransom


A bit more about Soil for Life

Soil for Life are a wonderful bunch of people whose mandate is quite simply to ‘heal the soil, heal the plants, and heal the people’. Their main work is in under privileged communities where they teach people how to start their own home gardens, provide on-going support through a team of field workers and over time see them blossom into agricultural experts! Find out more

Written by Paul Galatis

Paul is one of the three directors at Yuppiechef. Hailing from a past as a designer and branding guy, he now plays the role of chief story teller to staff, the wider world and indeed, anyone who will listen. He is passionate about customer service and is inspired by the great people he has the good fortune to work with every day. View more articles by .


  1. Nicola says:

    Brilliant idea, I hope they take up your challange.

  2. Colleen says:

    HAHA!! What a fabulousl idea. I do hope that Woolies meets the challenge so the lovebirds can fly free :o)

  3. Kerry says:

    Haha… David & Goliath! Go Yuppiechef!

  4. Cat says:

    Very clever! Let’s see how agile Woolies is.

  5. Guys, we’ve been so lovebuzzed, this absolutely flew past us. And we’re lucky it’s been caught by such a great cause. So we’ll not only match the R5000 in donations, we’ll up it by a further R2500. Come on, donate here and then swing past http://www.woolieslovebirds.co.za to tweet your sweet!

  6. Dave says:

    Wow, reading the interaction between genius ambush marketers and friendly corporate (Woolies) with a great come-back, leaves one warm and fuzzy….well played, this should be PR’d further, it is fantastic !!

  7. Alexia says:

    Yuppiechef – this is BRILLIANT! Woolies – well done on taking up the challenge! I’m going to tweet my heart out about this! Great ambush, for a great cause…

  8. Koek! says:

    Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. I’m donating now…

  9. mr ismaei says:

    i am a very loyal customer of woolies unfornately woolies does not cater for people like me who do not know how to use TWEETER AND FACEBOOK. pls think of us have competition where all can enter.
    thank you
    god bless

  10. Hi Mr Ismaei, many thanks for the feedback. We would love to include everybody in the competitions – social media is a very new area for us and we are hoping to do more competitions across all channels. Our customer services team are going to be in touch to discuss this further as we value everyone’s input.
    Many thanks – Woolies LoveBirds team

  11. Arina says:

    Does Woolies perhaps need an eagle eye to proofread for them? arinaw@mweb.co.za

  12. hehehe – perhaps we do!! would you be interested? We’ll suggest it to our stores team 😉

  13. Hanno says:

    Kudos to Yuppiechef for putting this “kidnapping” towards a good cause and to Woolworths for so gamely playing along. Awesome stuff.

  14. Arina says:

    Woolies Love Bird, I would definitely be interested. And oh yes……Yuppiechef.. you did a great thing and Woolies, congratulations on turning what could have been a big oops into a whoop whoop.

  15. JT says:

    You guys are absolutely great! I think this is fantastic!

  16. Leanne says:

    Oh, this is CLASSIC! And kudos to Woolies for not being uptight :-)

  17. Debbie says:

    Just reading all the comments and the lighthearted to-ing and fro-ing makes me wish everything in this country could be as nice as this. Imagine waving at someone instead of showing road rage!! Dream on Debs…………

  18. marina says:

    I think I know which Little Yuppiechef team-member was behind this…. nice one!

  19. Dez Mynhardt says:

    This is CLASSIC. Sometimes it takes one slip to turn something ordinary into genius. You guys must send it to the Media and Marketing page in the Weekend Argus. Deserves an orchid. Well done!

  20. Elna Smit says:

    Very very clever!!!!!

  21. Teresa says:

    You guys are wonderful! Your products are great, your service is fantastic and now I see you have a sense of humour second to none, the absolute cherry on the yuppie cake. I love it!! Well done, keep it up!! LOL…

  22. Adele says:

    My two favorite companies fighting for “love”… – how awesome is that? With this attitude, wars would be won in an instant

  23. Helen says:

    Great thinking out-the-box ! I love the spirit in which this has been handled by all parties – goes a long way in putting smiles on a heap of faces – congrats!

  24. Natacia says:

    I love it!!! What a fabulous idea!

  25. Lee says:

    Now this is why I simply LOVE South Africa! Well done to all concerned!

  26. KathRoderick says:

    We love the yuppie chefs – masters of evil and nefarious ransoming!

  27. Adam says:

    Well done – absolute GENIUS all round!

  28. Dave says:

    Could this be the beginning of a beautiful friendship?

    Would be interesting to see if the Yuppies & Woolies work on more good causes together or even do marketing together.

  29. Natalie Greve says:

    Stunning, stunning stunning! Love it!!!!

  30. Pete says:

    Paul, this is brilliant. My donation is on its way, eks, my brither! Is there no way that you can force Woolies into another typo and we push them to R50 000? You know I can force a number of donations to get the total up to this level. I am Parthabs

  31. john says:

    brilliant!!!! well done!!!!

  32. Cathy Forfar says:

    i am a very loyal customer of woolies unfornately woolies does not cater for people like me who do not know how to use TWEETER AND FACEBOOK. pls think of us have competition where all can enter.
    thank you
    god bless

    I agree with Ismael’s comment. I am also a very loyal customer, being a vegetarian, get the best fruit and veges there. (My husband says we cannot move anywere where is not a Woolies, as I would not be able to cope!!!)

  33. Susan says:

    Well done guys!! Awesome kidnapping for a good cause. Woolies thumbs up to you! When something comes from the heart it goes a long way!

  34. Billy says:

    Well done guys! Woolies gets a nod to for having a sense of humour and not being dicks about it.

  35. Santie says:

    Bakgat Idee!!

  36. Starstreak says:

    How do we know this wasn’t all pre-arranged. I mean, come on, would they really register a site and put stuff on it without noticing it has the wrong name??

  37. dogmatic69 says:

    you say they have agreed but the site is still pointing here. that is dick

  38. Paul says:

    Hey Starstreak,

    This is just a quickie to say that this was definitely not prearranged, as perfect as it may seem.

    If you were Woolies and you had spent millions on your first foray into the world of social media, one would think that making the schoolboy error of getting a URL wrong is the last thing you would want to happen. They have handled it excellently, which has been a big plus for them, but pre-arranged? Absolutely not.

    If you’re super investigative, you can take a peek at the date that http://www.woolieslovebird.co.za was registered and I think you’ll find it to be Sunday night!

  39. Yuppiechef says:

    Dogomatic69, we have been in touch with Woolies. They are scrambling to organise the the non-sequential bank notes. The birds will be released as soon as we see the cash.

  40. Arina says:

    No man Starstreak partypooper, you got it all wrong. Woolies did register the right name. There was a typo on the in-store posters advertising the promotion. All because they didn’t use an excellent proofreader, like me.

  41. Donovan says:

    Hi Guys

    I like the way you think, but i have one problem. If you want them to match Rand for Rand, do the right thing and pay your domain registration fees!!!! I don’t think its fair to register the domain and not pay for it and then still want the company to pay you the Ransom for it!!


  42. Yuppiechef says:

    Hey eagle-eye Donavan, you’ll be glad to know that the payment was made as soon as we registered it but it takes a while to appear as paid. Sometimes days, sometimes weeks!

  43. Arun Rajagopalan says:

    The genius of Paul Galatis……this one would go down as a case study at Harvard!! A fantastic wake-up call to every markerting bloke on the planet!! Love it……money on its way ‘Soil people’

  44. Paul says:

    Thanks, Arun! Much appreciated, but this was actually the genius of our whole Yuppiechef team (and the work of our fans) – not just me 😉 Thanks for your support, Big Man.

  45. Claire Hoatson says:

    Well done! Have so enjoyed reading all the banter! Hope you guys get good mileage out of this – you deserve it! Please post the Jeremy interview so us non highvelders can enjoy!

  46. Des says:

    Aaai guys just heard this on highveld and thought it was a great idea…well done to all the players you certainly got people tweeting, Paul….brilliant man, could never afford your products but I usually come here and perv and one day is one day… Des

  47. Pistool says:

    Ant….. I mean…..Paul Galatis AKA Robin Hood

  48. Natasha says:

    What a great idea!!

  49. kareno says:


  50. Curious says:

    Very clever campaign, but I believe the whole thing has been staged… Can’t believe that a company like Woolies would ‘forget’ to register a domain for a campaign… Let’s see if it the domain is changed to point to the website they should have built for this campaign or not ;-)… I think it’s also a very clever way of Woolies using this idea to position themselves in the social media space as being so good natured… Very smart… it’s all for a good cause, so not knocking it… well done on an ingenious idea, but won’t be paying a ransom ‘fake’ kidnapping :-)…

  51. KitchenAid says:

    Go Yuppiechefs!!
    Make the world better:-)) One good idea at a time…
    Brilliant idea and thank you for giving us the chance to participate!

  52. Juan Peron says:

    Paul, an absolutely fantastic (and very brave) idea. I think Woolies did the most unusual thing in going along with this. We all know how stuck-up Corporates can be and how they hate being proved wrong. No wonder Woolies is our favourite store and we miss it so much, being stuck here in Buenos Aires. Let’s open a Wooolies on the River Plate?

  53. Yuppiechef says:

    Hi Curious, so you don’t believe us huh? Fair enough 😉 Here’s the scoop.

    Woolies didn’t forget to register the domain for their competition. They registered the correct domain: http://www.woolieslovebirds.co.za. What happened is that when woolies designed their posters they made a typo and left the ‘s’ off the end of the address on the advertising material. They had never thought of registering http://www.woolieslovebird.co.za (without the ‘s’). That’s what we picked up on… and here we are. And Woolies have been super kind and let us keep the URL point here because they think the cause is worth it and they like the way we went about it. Nice hey?

    Hope you believe us because it’s true!

  54. Curious says:

    @Yuppiechef, thanks for the background… OK, I believe you :-). Glad it worked well for everyone all round.

  55. Shax (jnr.) says:

    Love your work guys and just made a little contribution to be part of this great cause…

    My favourite part of it is that the domain name is still yours despite the ransom being paid. -Hooray for Yuppiechef and hooray for Woolworths’ great sport!

  56. averagenatured says:

    doing my usual scan through the daily maverick, i stumbled upon this fantastic story. there are some things, not too many, but a few that make me so proud to be part of the human race. i love every piece of this story – the importance of good copy editors, the intelligence of interested consumers, the speedy realisation of possibilities, the kindness and ‘business-wiseness’ of corporations, the triumph of NGO’s over a possible selfish onlooker, the lovely overall humour, the obligatory sceptics and most of all, the heartwarming abundance of readers who enjoyed hearing about this as much as i did.

    well done to all, truly. this has been the most fantastic start to my week and i hope it sets the tone to the rest of the year. here’s hoping this triggers a large spike in donations that does not drop for a long time to come.

    proudly south african indeed :)

    wow, i shall be smiling every time I manage to squeeze this story into conversation, hopefully initiating even more donations. filled with smiles at the moment :)

  57. Walter Pike says:


    Thanks for the call yesterday, Had just been talking to @Rubygold at classic FM about this the day before.

    Its a very cool story and its amazing to hear how much money you have managed to raise for charity, how much publicity you got for your business and how much has been generated for woolies.

    I will blog about it – and it will go into my digital strategy course as a local case study.

  58. Andrea says:

    Well done to Woolworths for going with the flow on this one. It must have raied their “cool” kudos significantly! Great idea.

  59. Colleen says:

    It has been so cool following and taking part in this amazing “crime of passion” You guys all rock.

  60. SydNasty says:

    Woolies and Yuppiechef making us love to be South African, I can imagine what this whole thing could have turned out like if it was in America or Europe. Lawyers for both sides would bespending sleepless nights trying to nullify each other’s actions in court. But here in Mzansi we have brands like Woolies and Yuppie chef who can manage to create positive outcomes out of the whole situation-now that’s the real “ubuntu” we always talk about as South Africans!

  61. Ann Williams says:

    This is just brilliant all around!
    Hey. Has anyone thought to give Woolies a thumbs up vote for this on helloPeter?

  62. JT says:

    i actually heard you on highveld. i was chuffed to say the least (why? well because I had a personal email from you guys…does that make me famous also?) . so glad it all turned out well. hugs always.

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