June 30

Scott Anderson

Taking a Match to Convention: A Podcast Chat with Matchboxology’s Cal Bruns

‘Today’s generation is absolutely petrified, not by HIV, but by getting a job’



Cal Bruns left a successful career with advertising powerhouse Leo Burnett to found Matchboxology, a human-centered design consultancy with offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

In the past 10 years, Matchboxology has worked at the apex of behavior change, entrepreneurship development and health, working with multinational clients such as Levi’s, Adidas, PEPFAR/USAID, the UN, PSI and Johns Hopkins.

In the latest NextBillion Podcast, Bruns, the “chief incubationist,” and I talk about how human-centered design can be a powerful tool. But it all starts with listening. The Matchboxology team describe themselves as “ethnographers” rather than researchers or employees – and that too is by design.

Matchboxology worked with Levi’s in a marketing and education program designed to inform young people about HIV/AIDS in South Africa, while at the same time promoting the jeans’ brand. The result was the SCRUTINIZE campaign, which featured irreverent, “South Park”-like cartoons. We discuss the campaign, which includes videos like the one below.



Bruns and I also chat about the entrepreneurship craze that’s sweeping the continent, in some countries more than others. He spent years on assignment in Eastern Europe where he witnessed a massive change away from centrally planned economies to market-based ones. He sees a similar trend when it comes to the promise of entrepreneurship in Africa, ignited by necessity.

“Today’s generation is absolutely petrified, not by HIV, but by getting a job,” he said.

We also talk about how Matchboxology teamed up with Levi’s through the Pioneer Nation project to celebrate and connect young entrepreneurs – and not just the tech-focused ones. Join us for the discussion.


Scott Anderson is a contributing editor at NextBillion.





Health Care
employment, marketing and advertising