by Herman Manson (@marklives) Daniel Siegler once tried to to entice us to head to Mars. Today the creative director and executive producer at Word. continues on his own mission to… not Mars but somewhere unconventional, anyway.

Word. logoSiegler describes Word. as a strategic production company; he wants it to offer more than most South African production houses do. Word. straddles the worlds of commercials, music and branded entertainment, positioned as a soundboard for the changing landscape of agency clients and the entertainment industry. Apart from production services, Word. also offers film development and access to a number of local and international directors, including Rick Wall, Adriaan Louw, Luke Huxham and Specter. Clients have included Porsche, BMW, KIA, Topman, C&A, adidas, Somfy, Coke, HPE, American Apparel, Marteria, Sony, Panasonic, Diageo and Chloe.

On their own terms

The company goes beyond client work by developing its own long-form content, where the producers make the rules and explore projects on their own terms. Sometimes these projects find commercial partners; sometimes Word takes on the role of distributor, as it did with its recently launched 33-minute film, Tour of Ara. This follows a bicycle race that is ridden mostly on SA-built steel racing bicycles over a 800km, dirt-road route in the Karoo. The two categories in the race are each open to only 40 racers. The film is directed by Rick Wall and produced by Siegler.

According to Siegler, projects such as Tour of Ara allow the directors and producers to claim ownership of their creativity. The film is in its launch phase and will be touring cities with strong cycling cultures, as well as ad agencies , it being a tool to reach creative directors and to showcase Word’s directorial and production prowess.

Companies such as Word are well-positioned to tell authentic stories with which brands may easily align and feed to their content hungry social media audiences. With a focus less on product and more on authentic storytelling, the content is less stale and offers a broader view of how brands can inspire dialogue with communities of interest. Reality, says Siegler, has never been more relevant for brands, and this is mostly thanks to social media.

Access to international producers

Access to international producers, he says, need not be prohibitively expensive: Word. sources talent in Europe, Asia and the US. It will open a Europe subsidiary in Berlin in Aug 2017, allowing for SA talent to work overseas and access more European talent in South Africa. The Berlin office will be headed by Kay Bohlmann, a long-standing business partner of his.

There is no reason that SA corporates should not have access to global talent or vice versa, especially as they follow global trends away from ads towards brand films and music videos (think Adidas, which won the Entertainment for Music Grand Prix at Cannes Lions 2017, or the Absolut “One Source” music video and brand film).

SA brands should certainly risk being more creative in the TVC content it produces, says Siegler, especially if it wants to see increased quality in its content, as well as more-engaged consumer conversion. Fewer and fewer people have time for meaningless work, which certainly won’t stand out in the content explosion that is digital. Everybody is looking for good content, and outside the traditional film spheres of cinemas and TV. Fashion and retail brands, in particular, face interesting content and brand challenges in a competitive market, yet they continue to be focus on photography with video remaining an afterthought. Word wants them to access film and music to a much greater degree that they currently do.

Breaking into music videos

With its focus on film, commercial- and cultural content, Word. is successfully breaking into the music-video business: it is currently shooting for Major Lazer, a US band that has seen more than 2bn YouTube impressions. The band is using Word. director, Adriaan Louw (known for his his Riky Rick videos), and filming is taking place in Johannesburg. The video mixes talent from the US, Nigeria and South Africa.

(The Word. video is still in production — the release date is in August 2017).

Advertising needs to become less abstract and more integrated into the reality of life, says Siegler. As advertising changes, so will agency, and production companies. It’s not quite a mission to Mars but it’ss a pretty exciting prospect none the less.


Herman MansonHerman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of

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