by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) The oldest soccer club in South Africa, this team is known by many monikers. Some people call the home-grown Ibhola players the Buccaneers or the Bucs; others call them Ezikamagebhula, the Sea Robbers, the Ghosts, the Happy People, Amabhakabhaka, or Ezimnyama Ngenkani (which means the black ones — because this team plays home games in black kit).

Part & parcel of SA

Call them what you will, the Orlando Pirates are part and parcel of South African life and culture.

Anyone who’s watched the legendary Soweto Derby will know how this Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs contest drives fans into a frenzy. The much-contested showdowns showcase some of the best soccer you’ll see in SA, if not the continent.

The TV commercial featured this week is ostensibly to promote the Pirates’ jersey, and does feature branding by other sponsors. While Vodacom is the team’s primary sponsor, Adidas sponsors the team’s kit — jerseys, boots and other equipment.

140 BBDO TVC for Adidas: “The Mantra”

The ad, conceived and produced by Cape Town’s 140 BBDO, is beautifully shot. The lighting, the mood and framing are all artfully done. The styling is understated, and fits the overall mood, while the music and commentary all contribute to a well-crafted whole. Adidas has used several Pirates players instead of actors to create the story.

The ad starts with a close shot of running feet. We catch a glimpse of the Adidas stripes on his running shoes. The subtitle reads, ‘Soweto, South Africa’. The scene cuts to a wide shot of the man running, but from behind. The narration says, “It’s not just a club; it’s my club.”

adidas TVC: The Mantra screengrab - Orlando TowersCut to an exterior, early morning scene of another man running. He’s wearing a trademark triple-stripe Adidas tracksuit, and his path takes him past the iconic Soweto power-station towers, the Orlando Towers. The man’s face comes into view and, to the initiated, he would be recognisable as one of the Orlando Pirates players. The narration is: “The season does not define my club; its history does. My club is always a contender, never written-off or dismissed.”

The scene changes to another Pirates player running, this time at night, in a township street. The voiceover says: “It lives in the hearts of the millions around it.”

Over another player, the narration continues: “Its followers are CEOs and bricklayers.”

The next scene has one more player running past a field where four kids are knocking a ball around. The voiceover in this scene is: “It’s the club you support because your father supported it, and his father before that.”

adidas TVC: The Mantra screengrab - final shotThe final scene begins once again on a close shot of feet — this time they are Adidas soccer boots, and it’s a scene of three players in a tunnel that leads into a soccer stadium. “It is me,” says the voiceover, “It is us. This is my club.” The front shot reveals three well-known Pirates players — Daine Klate, Happy Jele and Tlou Segolela — resplendent in the new soccer season’s jersey.

This is, of course, of interest to Bucs fans, as the kit is updated each year. There are, in fact, two jerseys — one for ‘home’ games and one for ‘away’ games.

Sacrilegious departure

As part of the ‘buzz’ that surrounds this event, Adidas ‘leaked’ a version of the ‘home’ kit earlier in July 2014, much to the consternation of fans, as it was green — a sacrilegious departure from the traditional black-and-white of the Buccaneers of years past.

The creative team of executive creative director Ivan Johnson, creative director Alexis Beckett and agency producer Megan Sturgess has conceived a commercial that is powerful and resonant. I say the ad is ostensibly to promote the jersey, but it does much more than just that.

This commercial is a celebration of soccer in this country. It’s an homage to the men and women who are passionate about the sport, and who are inspired enough to hit the streets and train when most people are slumped in front of the TV. And, of course, it’s a tribute to the players themselves, who push themselves to the limit to make ‘the beautiful game’ what it is.

adidas TVC: The Mantra screengrab - man running early morningThe ad, directed by Gregg Bailey for Velocity, is a winner largely because the imagery is shot with sensitivity by DoP Robert Wilson. The narrow focal depth allows for a beautiful softness in the background; while it doesn’t necessarily ‘prettify’ the scene, it gives the shots a mythical, filmic quality. The locations help to identify the players with their hometown.

Just about every shot moves, the camera tracking with the subject through the environment, and most of the shots are in slow motion, so there is an enchanted, dreamlike quality to each shot. The editing is unhurried, allowing each shot to ‘breathe’ and reveal its own mood.

The music is unusual, consisting of one long-held synthesizer note with piano embellishments. Its mood supports the imagery and narration, and powerfully builds to the climax, the final reveal of the jersey.

Even though I’m a proud Sundowns supporter, this ad elicits a sense of excitement and anticipation for the soccer season ahead. It’s a tribute to the team, the sponsor and soccer in general.



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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