by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) FCB Joburg and director Teboho Mahlatsi of Bomb Commercials create mythical magic for South African Tourism in a commercial story that journeys our beautiful country.
South Africa is exceptional; we are fortunate that we live in a country which has so much that is unique, different, remarkable. Tourism is a major part of SA’s GDP and employment environment. According to Traveller24.com, tourism accounted for 4.5% of the country’s employment in 2014. In that year, the V&A Waterfront, which attracts over 24m visitors each year, contributed some R52bn to South Africa’s GDP alone. It’s a sector that’s easily accessible for entrepreneurs and, despite stricter visa controls and a worldwide economic downturn, tourism has seen steady growth over the past 10 years, adding more jobs to the economy than the trade, agriculture or manufacturing sectors.
To sell this fascinating country, FCB Africa has come up with a campaign for SA Tourism that includes a short movie and an Instagram feed. “Meet South Africa. Meet Bheki the Mbhaco Maker” is a smart campaign that delightfully celebrates our country’s diversity of scenery and culture. Aimed at potential foreign visitors, it’s a kaleidoscopic journey through our country, a narrative trek that is woven together with a charming story based on a Xhosa tradition.
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The scene is set from the start with a surreal scene of a band playing on the mountainside. They freeze as a procession passes, led by a praise singer, and accompanied a dozen locals: the wedding entourage. A tall Xhosa bride-to-be is on her way to meet the man who would make her Mbhaco — the most-important dress of her marriage ceremony. This man is Bheki, and he is the centre of the story.
Bheki addresses her as “Nkosazana”, which means ‘princess’ in isiXhosa. This is also a popular name but it seems that this statuesque woman is, in fact, a princess.
Unfortunately, all the design ideas that Bheki offers are rejected, so he has but one option: to seek inspiration elsewhere. This is where the journey really begins. He travels throughout South Africa to find his muse. As he passes through Port St Johns, three ‘swenkas’ point him on further down the road. Our protagonist continues through a herd of Nguni cattle on the beach on to three fishermen at a seaside village, who point him in three different directions. Undeterred, he diligently continues his search.
The commercial takes Bheki through the game parks, lodges, and wild areas of the bush. On white water rapids, until he gets to ‘the city of gold’, Johannesburg. Here he explores the street culture and nightlife. His voyage also takes him to the mountains and the skies, to the Valley of a Thousand Hills in KZN, to Durban and, finally, on to Cape Town. In the Mother City, he meets the girl of his dreams.
The narration ends: “Yes, no doubt, Bheki was inspired. So inspired, in fact, he now needed to make not one mbhaco, but two.” Talk about a fairytale ending!
If it’s possible to encapsulate the spirit, beauty and charm of SA on film, this short movie has done so, and more. Showcasing everything that might appeal to most types of tourists, the story of Bheki’s journey wraps it all into a vibrant package that is rich in narrative and incredibly memorable.
Well done, FCB Joburg, Bomb Commercials and South African Tourism, for creating a vision of our country that resonates with us all but, more importantly, that tourists and offshore candidates will fall in love with again. And again!
Client: South African Tourism
Chief executive officer: Sisa Ntshona
Chief marketing officer: Margie Whitehouse
Regional general manager (Europe): Ian Utermohlen
Communications manager: Thandiwe Mathibela
Creative agency: FCB Joburg
Chief account leadership officer: Romaine Mackenzie
Account leadership: Jennifer Dupen, Cretienne Vorster
Strategy: Siwelile Thusi, Zoe Willems
Joint chief creative officers: Jonathan Deeb, Ahmed Tilly
Creative director: Collette Wasielewski
Copywriter: Khanyi Mpumlwana
Art director: Nobantu Sibeko
Producer: Wakhile Sithole
Operations manager: Samantha Di Terlizzi
Production company: Bomb Commercials
Director: Teboho Mahlatsi
Junior director: Itumeleng Mohlabane
Executive producer: Gavin Joubert
Director of photography: Werner Maritz
Editor: Andrew Traill, The Upstairs Ludus
Post producer: Joe Erasmus
Final mix: Nathi Luthango, A Nathi Sound
Film score: Black Motion
Music: African Rhythm, DJ Fortee
Wardrobe: Sheli Nyathi
Production designer: Dimitri Repanis
Narrator: Zesuliwe Hadebe
Instagram: Hloni Coleman
Fashion brands: Vernac by Dennis, Maxhosa, Simon and Mary, House of Chesso, Urban Zulu, Ezasekasi, House of Ole, Toygal, Bryntsmoore, Elizabeth Morr
Ad 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.