by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) The last time I was affected deeply by a Coronation ad was in 2012, with the true story of Lawrence Anthony, “the elephant whisperer”. This was the saga of the man who earned the trust of a herd of rogue elephants, with the bottom line of the narrative being: “Trust is earned.”

The FoxP2 TV commercial contained the moving tale of someone who’d dedicated his life to conservation, forming the Earth Organisation and taking on rescue missions to places such as the Baghdad zoo after the American invasion. Anthony even negotiated with the infamous Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army in an attempt to save the last of the Northern White Rhinoceros.

A perfect metaphor

The story was a perfect metaphor for the trust that an investor places in an asset manager such as Coronation. For many, this investment is the fund that will help facilitate a comfortable retirement, or a legacy to pass on to one’s children.

I’m glad to see that, despite changing agencies, Coronation has stuck with its positioning, and that trust remains the fund house’s core message to market. It’s a simple concept, that has longevity, and I think it could last many years, if not decades.

The new commercial sticks with the powerful message of “Trust is Earned”, as well as with using a remarkable but true narrative to demonstrate the power of trust. It tells the story of Dr Albert-André Nast, a doctor in the French village of Chelles.

Net#work BBDO’s TV ad for Coronation: “Trust is earned”

In 1931, at the age of 47, Dr Nast lost his eyesight but, despite this, his patients continued to call upon him. Instead of a life of darkness and solitude, he continued to practice, saving lives, treating diseases and delivering more than 4 000 babies in a 32-year career. The story shows that, even with the loss of sight, Dr Nast lived a life as full as he could possibly have wished for.

The ad has a ‘slice of life’ structure. The doctor hurries through rainy streets to help deliver a baby; the villagers have accidents and illnesses; and through it all, the doctor is shown dealing with these situations. The doctor knows that the icy north wind blows in arthritis for the butcher, and hurries to his aid. He lifts a baby up to listen to his breathing and heartbeat by placing his ear to the child’s back.

Produced for Coronation by Net#work BBDO, the film was shot by DoP Franz Lustig on 16mm film, rather than a digital format (as is the trend). The director was Nacho Gayan of Stink, a production company based in London.

Coronation: Trust is earnedWorthy of a Kubrick movie

The film has an incredibly rich and detailed feel which lends to its authenticity. The detail is fantastic, and the sets are worthy of a Kubrick movie.

Production designer Ana Alvargonzalez did an incredible job of sourcing authentic props, such as stethoscopes and pill bottles. Wardrobe was handled by Charlotte Chadwick, who not only found the bona fide 1930s clothes, hats and handbags but also had to focus on a very specific colour palette that the director required: browns, russets and green-blues, as well as a lot of white.

The copy cleverly omits to tell the viewer overtly that the doctor is blind — that detail is kept for the very end of this storied commercial. There are little clues, though — the hand feeling for the stethoscope, the wife helping him hurry through the rain and, upon viewing again, one notices that his eyes do not focus. It’s a great performance from the actor playing the doctor, as it’s a very subtle study of a man who has lost his sight.

Cleverly reveals

The voiceover is well written, and very clearly reveals that the point of the story isn’t just that people continued to trust the doctor, despite his having lost his sight, but that he never stopped working to earn their trust.

The narrative and the beautifully crafted commercial leads perfectly to the denouement — the Coronation slogan, which of course is: “Trust is Earned”.

The final shot is of the doctor balancing a child standing on his hand, in a village picnic scenario. This is a very poignant image of trust, and completes this story of the blind doctor who held an entire village’s health tenderly in his hands, with love and care.

Rare piece of genius

This is a rare piece of genius, a unique piece of work that is crafted in the same way that the best movies are made. And it is totally ‘on message’.

Hats off to Net#work BBDO and all involved for a commercial we’ll love to talk about — and remember — for a long time to come.


Oresti PatriciosAd of the Week, published on MarkLives every Wednesday, is penned by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki), the CEO of Ornico, a Brand Intelligence® firm that focuses on media, reputation and brand research.

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