Tshegofatso Mnguni (left), Sarika Modi, the managing director of Triple Eight with a representative of the Gender Mainstream Awards when they won a prior award. They have now also won the Shorty Award.
Tshegofatso Mnguni (left), Sarika Modi, the managing director of Triple Eight with a representative of the Gender Mainstream Awards when they won a prior award. They have now also won the Shorty Award.

SA digital agency recognised with global awards nod for Nessie, the WhatsApp Mathbot

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Jun 14, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG: A South African digital agency has been recognised at New York’s Shorty Awards for its innovative WhatsApp Mathbot, winning two gongs in the process and a bronze award.

The agency, Triple Eight, worked with Nestle to develop the world’s first WhatsApp Mathbot.

The Nestle’s Nespray Math Moment Campaign sought to address the challenges of poverty and inequality in South Africa – which is consistently ranked among the lowest in the world, in terms of its mathematics abilities.

The campaign aimed to use Nessie, a WhatsApp Mathbot, to empower parents to coach their children to solve math problems. The campaign sought to address the problem of children losing interest in math, as they and their parents were intimidated by the subject.

The Nessie WhatsApp Mathbot won an award in the WhatsApp Innovation category, and also in the Education category.

HOW THEY DID IT

The Nessie WhatsApp Mathbot would provide fun and age appropriate problems to solve twice a week. The mathbot Nessie coached parents to become teachers and attempt to make maths more enjoyable for children.

The programme, said Triple Eight, had fostered more positive attitudes towards maths and Nessie also provided nutritional tips to parents, as there was a proven link between good nutrition and cognitive performance.

Of the thousands of families that participated, 98% completed all the questions provided, resulting in a 47% improvement in maths grades at school, and a 45% improvement in attitude and dedication towards maths.

Nessie became even more critical during lockdown, helping families stay positive and connected with maths.

The Shorty Awards – which are also sometimes referred to as the Oscars of the digital universe – is a global awards programme aimed at honouring the best people and organisations on social media. The New York-based awards are in their 13th year.

The WhatsApp Mathbot innovation was part of Nestle Nespray Math Moment and has made a difference in improving maths skills in local communities.

Triple Eight’s managing director Sarika Modi said businesses had a responsibility to help communities.

“If businesses want to be sustainable – purpose, people and communities have to be factored in,” she said, adding that the purposeful campaign married technology and innovation, in order to make a meaningful impact.

“We are delighted that Triple Eight’s work in this area has been recognised by the Shorty Awards and hope that our successes will inspire the next generation of young women of what they too can achieve,” she concludes.

The awards showcased the power of social media as a catalyst for good and its ability to ignite global movements. The Shorty Awards remain the most prominent award show of its kind.

The Triple Eight Agency became the first South African agency to win a Shorty Award. Comedian Trevor Noah, who is the host of the Daily Show, was the first South African to win a Shorty – when he scooped the Best in Comedy category last year.

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