by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) Those clever people at Joe Public United and The Star Film Company have done it again! This week I’m giving the integrated brand and communications group a standing ovation for its superb campaign for the green bank, which aims to get people to use Nedbank’s new banking app.

A mere 10 weeks ago, Nedbank Commercial and Investment Bank took Ad of the Week for its beautifully filmed ‘bird’s-eye view’ commercial. This week, Nedbank must take a bow again for a clever set of ads that work on two levels. The marketing promotes an app that makes banking on a cellphone easier. But it does a whole lot more than that. On a more ‘meta’ level, the videos further the bank’s philosophy of helping people to make better life choices by being interested in more than just money.

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The slogan “I don’t live for money” is the theme that runs throughout the set of commercials. There is a two-minute version, which has been reedited into two 47-second iterations. Plus there are short, 22-second spots to promote aspects of the app. These are more product-specific but use the same scenarios and actors as in the main themed ads.

The longer TV commercials start with a scene of a burly man with dreadlocks, seated at a piano. The soundtrack begins with Claude Debussy’s Claire de Lune. Our protagonist starts jamming but not on the keys; he is tapping out the tune on the wood. “I don’t live for money,” the voiceover says. The scene changes to a young man presenting his female friend with a gift — a hand-decorated pair of shoes. “I live for love,” the voiceover continues.

The rest of the ad portrays different scenarios to illustrate the things that people prefer to live for, rather than money. Each scenario’s theme is described with a simple line of voiceover:

  • “I live for the movement” is portrayed as a group of friends who travel in their van with the final piece of a sculpture, which is being erected in the desert.
  • “I live for freedom, to unlearn and reimagine.” The scene that accompanies this is of a young woman looking at a photo of herself as a dancer in a beautiful pose. She is crying and, when she stands up, the camera reveals that one of her legs has been amputated and she now has an artificial limb.
  • “I live for the empowerment, giving a voice to the voiceless in a safe space where the faceless show face,” depicts a silkscreen shirt printing business. White shirts are having slogans printed on them in bold black lettering.
  • “I live for growth” is a scene of a tattoo artist working on a man’s back. Magically, the tattoo that grows down his back is of tree roots.

Midway through the commercial, the music changes to a modern, driving, dance tune, which inspires a much more frenetic editing pace. Now we see all the scenarios coming together. The sculpture in the desert is on fire as part of some sort of ‘Burning Man’ celebration, with people dancing. The shirts are seen on a variety of models: a woman sports the slogan, “I am all woman”; an albino man’s shirt reads, “Black Excellence”; a grey-haired woman boasts the words, “I am enough”; a young girl in a ballet outfit has the words, “I am the future”. This all flashes by in a pacey montage, including the man from the start playing the piano.

At the end, the pace slows right down again for the final line of voiceover: “I don’t live for money, but it gets me what I live for.” This is followed by a male voice with the payoff, “Manage your money like never before, with the new Nedbank Money app.” This is accompanied by some of the key characters from before using the app on their phones.

The short ads are more straightforward but they sell one single aspect of the app, such as buying airtime for other people with a simple and quick process, or stopping your card, or sending money to someone. In all of these, the same characters from the longer ad are used, which creates a tie-in to the campaign.

The ad is shot with moody lighting, carefully graded to allow for deep blues and greens, without losing warmth in the skin tones. Interestingly, the picture has been framed for a 4:3 aspect ratio, with rounded corners, which is reminiscent of both an older, ‘traditional’ TV set (or an even older Super-8 movie), and more modern apps such as Instagram and Snapchat. The casting is notable, for the sheer variety of people in terms of age, size and even hairstyles. Instead of picture-perfect models, the storylines feature ‘real’ people in all their unusual, eccentric, unconventional and wonderful uniqueness. It’s just part of a layered message that the bank is promoting: that it is inclusive, and celebrates South African culture in all its variety.

What this campaign reveals about Nedbank is that it’s also focused on people by encouraging its clients to save and invest, rather than take out loans. Bravo Joe Public and The Star Film Company, for a campaign that raises the bar and will surely deliver solid returns to Nedbank.


Brand: Nedbank
Client: Vanessa Singh, Sandrine Prinsloo, Desmond Osman, Rebecca Malekane
Agency: Joe Public United (ATL & digital)
Group chief creative officer: Pepe Marais
Chief creative officer: Xolisa Dyeshana
Creative director: Martin Schlumpf
Art director: Tshepo Mogorosi
Copywriter: Buyani Duma
Group account director: Khuthala Gala Holten, Rachel Motloung
Account manager: Nomsa Sidu
Agency TV producer: Ofentse Moremi, Wendy Botha
Production company: The Star Film Company
Director: PHI (Jonathan Parkinson, Nicole Ackermann)
Director of photography: Adam Bentel
Executive producer: Adam Thal, Ashley Kadish
Music artist: Trevor Simpson
Post-production: Orchestra Blue Post Production
Editor: Graham Smith
Audio: Sterling Sound



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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