by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) Vodacom, Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg and Ian Gabriel of Giant Films team up with renowned dames of the South African entertainment industry — Usha Khan, Gaenor Becker, Abigail Kubeka and Elize Cawood — to deliver a fun road-trip story that is part Thelma and Louise and part Driving Miss Daisy.

Vodacom has produced entertaining ads throughout its existence, from the iconic Yebo Gogo campaign to the irritatingly memorable Mo the dancing meerkat. Even though it is the largest cellphone provider, it has taken cognisance of the competition from large and small alike, and has always been innovative and adventurous in its advertising. This latest summer campaign from the red cellphone company is no exception, and it starts with a TV commercial tied to an app and a celebrity road show.

The ad, Play Every Day, serves as a call to action for the Vodacom app, which is designed to be an easy way of checking your balances and doing basic tasks such as purchasing airtime, data and top-ups. The app now has the added opportunity of winning prizes, including electronic gadgets, holidays and data bundles. Each day, everyone gets one free spin of the wheel.

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The TV commercial that tells this story is set somewhere in the Western Cape. It starts off in one of those classic little towns in the Klein Karoo, such as Barrydale, Montagu or Prince Albert. A red Mercedes 450SL (an R107 model from the mid-1970s, if I’m not mistaken) pulls up in a cloud of dust outside a house with a quick hoot. Inside, the character played by Khan jumps up and calls her dog, a gigantic poodle. She grabs her suitcase and heads out the door, forgetting the gift which is right there, with a big sign saying “Don’t forget”. The car is driven by Cawood, and they rush off to the next stop, which is a house from which Becker emerges.

The music is “Walking on Sunshine”, the appropriately bouncy and happy pop song made popular by Katrina and the Waves in 1983. It’s a sound that will resonate with many in the target demographic.

The montage of the trip follows, which is the red Mercedes making its way through the Swartberg Mountain Catchment area. (It’s a beautiful, rugged part of the country, with both the Swartberg Pass and the N12 road between Klaarstroom and De Rust to choose from for scenic drives: well worth a detour if you’re ever down Swellendam way.) Cellphones are much in evidence, as the three grandes dames take selfies and do video chats with Cawood’s “new man”. The montage includes a quick stop for a refreshing splash at a waterfall/natural pool, which looks like the Meiringspoort rest stop.

Then they continue their journey, until Khan’s character realises that she has left the gift behind. The car pulls over as they double-check in the boot. “What are we going to do?” says one. Just then, Cawood spots the Vodacom tower on the mountainside. She dives for cellphone. “Vodacom Play Every Day,” she declares. She presses a button on the app and “Aha! Look, we’ve won!” as the screen lights up with a picture of a tablet.

The day is saved! The three women continue their journey and they soon arrive in Cape Town (although, if you know the Mother City, you will notice they took the scenic route). They are greeted at the door by the “birthday girl”, played by Kubeka. They present the gift, to her delight. The scene cuts to the party in full swing, as the tablet is being used to take photos and movies of all in attendance.

Tech-savvy glam-grannies

Part of the charm of this mini-movie is in the way these popular ladies carry off their roles of tech-savvy glam-grannies. They are clearly having the time of their lives, and technology is there to enhance it, courtesy of Vodacom. The campaign will also be extended into the ‘real world’, with Vodacom sending the ladies (including Kubeka) on a road trip in December: two to the Western Cape and two to KwaZulu-Natal. Fans will be able to follow and connect with their favourite characters via social media.

What makes this ad particularly smart is that, by using ‘grannies’ who are not necessarily considered to be tech-savvy, Vodacom is saying that the app is simple and convenient enough for anyone to use it.

Advertisers are moving from a place where they are simply ‘pushing product’ to rather creating great customer experiences. This is everything from how the customer is treated when calling your customer service centre to how much your app benefits the customer. It’s great to see that Vodacom is putting this into practice with its app and its core messaging.

I’m also glad to note that the messaging isn’t only targeting a youthful, tech-savvy demographic, but also appealing to an older generation who is gradually accepting the benefits of internet-enabled technology (anyone who has helped to set up Skype or Facetime for granny and grandad to see and speak to their grandchildren will understand the joy that technology can create in someone’s life).

The bottom line? A well-executed, well-performed ad that entertains with a truly South African flavour, while respecting its audience and getting a simple message across. Clear communication with style and effectiveness.


Ad agency: Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg
Art director: Errol Lepono
Creative director: Candice Hellens
Copywriter: Haydn Corke
TV producer: Helen d’Hotman
Senior group account director: Kim Kullmann
Production company: Giant Films
Director: Ian Gabriel
DoP: Willie Nel
Editor/post facility: Ricky Boyd, Deliverance
Final mix: Louis Enslin, Produce Sound
Music supervisor: Marc Algranti, Pulse Music


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. If you are involved in making advertising that is smart, funny and/or engaging, please let Oresti know about it at

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