Now expanding into the UK market! Make contact to find out what we can do to get you heard!

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Scania Supports Logistics Industry With New Finance Model

Many operators are hesitant to purchase new trucks as an uncertain business environment threatens confidence. Unprecedented economic challenges are forcing fleet managers and business owners to rethink their traditional purchasing cycles. In response, Scania South Africa is rethinking its business model to make upgrading financially easier.

“We understand that trucks need to be working for companies to make a profit,” says Mark Erasmus, General Manager: Sales. “It’s now that the improved efficiencies leading to vital cost economies, offered by our New Generation Trucks, will really make a difference.”

Putting these cost efficiencies into the hands of businesses who could benefit from the cost-savings but don’t have the appetite for large capital expenditures in these difficult times has required Scania South Africa to look for optimal financing agility. “We understand our role as equipment providers and the value chain we need to provide to make our equipment relevant in a tough economy,” explains Nomonde Kweyi, Marketing Director, Scania South Africa.

“To this end we have developed industry-leading financial offers that allow our customers to work with and use our world-class technology and performance, backed by our extended warranty and coverage plan, while also benefiting from financially agile repayment models.” Scania’s new all-inclusive monthly payment offer includes maintenance, repairs, insurance and extras, with the option to upgrade or purchase after 36-months. “It gives operators a bundled offer that covers the essentials at an unbeatable monthly rate”, explains Kweyi.

The New Generation Scania trucks and services have been engineered to perfection with the goal of improving fuel efficiency. Through improved aerodynamics, new engine concepts together with intelligent support systems, such as eco-roll and active prediction, the new generation Scania trucks are making huge strides towards reducing fuel consumption. Connectivity is also highlighted as a valuable cost-cutting tool.

“Our connected services deliver it all – from automated tachograph reporting to remote diagnostics and driver coaching. Our systems are also uniquely easy to use so they are used more often, leading to greater insights that translate into long-term cost efficiencies,” explains Erasmus. Connected technologies are used to manage entire fleets, maximising uptime and productivity. Scania is also setting new standards in maintenance plans using several operational factors and vehicle specifications to offer a continuously updated and flexible maintenance plan that minimises downtime to the lowest possible cost.

“Factors such as topography, fuel quality and stop and start frequency all affect the level of maintenance needed,” says Erasmus. By individually optimising the different modules in the maintenance plan, such as air filter and gearbox, Scania ensures that downtime is planned and only occurs when necessary. For each maintenance event, timing and content is calculated based on factors such as cost of spare parts and labour. This way, an optimised maintenance interval can be adapted to suit a particular business operations schedule. Even when things don’t go according to plan, Scania provides operators with a complete back-up system designed to minimize downtime and keep a vehicle on the road. Scania Assistance is an essential support service that is available 24/7/365.

For Scania South Africa, it’s about supporting their customers. “To keep businesses sustainable, we need to play a role in ensuring they have access to the latest technology, best performance and most cost-effective aftersales services. However, to get them into that value chain, we needed to make affordability a focus,” says Kweyi. “Scania South Africa is ready to play a pivotal role in ensuring businesses have the best-in-class equipment and support to confidently recover and thrive, not just in the short-term but in years to come.”

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Stop Hate for Profit?

Moti Grauman, Digital Media Strategist at The MediaShop

Moti Grauman from The MediaShop says advertisers that have halted their spend on Facebook to ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ is ambiguous.

While the intent is clear, i.e. corporates need to stop supporting an organisation that is alleged to allow hateful content on their site for the sake of profit – it may also imply that stopping hate is in itself profitable.

Actually, it’s a bit of both, and savvy advertisers will know exactly where they stand.

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign has for all intents and purposes built up significant steam. There are according to the Movement’s website almost 400 companies participating in the initiative, who are pulling their ad spend during July or, and in some cases, beyond. This supposedly accounts for an estimated 98% of Facebook’s $70 Billion annual ad revenue.

The obvious question is will it make a difference and force Facebook to take more responsibility for the content that it allows to be published?

It would seem, according to a recent article on Gizmodo, that participation means different things to different companies and that the impact of the initiative is likely to fall short as a result. The article reports that a number of companies will pause their ad spend on Facebook while still advertising on Instagram (which is owned by Facebook). Other brands will exclude Instagram but continue to make use of Facebook’s Audience Network – you see the conundrum. For some global companies their stand may mean pausing US Facebook ad spend while continuing their advertising in other countries.

The result is that any impact will be severely mitigated as a result of ad revenue simply being redirected rather than stopped altogether. And this makes perfect sense. Why would any brand with responsibilities to their stakeholders stop advertising on a platform for an entire month or more if the results of that ad spend were significantly positive? Of course, positive results could be “undone” if the mere association with a platform made their brand look bad. To some, it’s not a question of believing inherently in the Stop Hate for Profit movement, but one of saving face. Effective advertising through the platform can continue while distancing itself from the Facebook brand.

No matter which side of the fence you sit, there is a question that needs answering: “Can (big) brands afford not to have Facebook in their media plans? And therefore: “What are the costs of taking a stand?”

Grace Kite writes on Marketing Week that: “for some companies social media is critical while for others it makes very little difference.” That’s obvious, but the key is knowing where “you” are.

The product type, and the target market are predictably the strongest determinants of the importance of social media.

For some brands, social media is really very effective at driving sales, but for others it isn’t effective at all. Econometric studies show that ROI is much more variable for social media than it is for almost all other channels.

That isn’t a bad thing in itself. It just means that advertisers need to ensure they can reach the right end of the ROI range or else reallocate spend to other channels where returns are more reliable.

Facebook’s own research doesn’t address when it’s best to use the channel versus not, so evidence from econometrics projects is helpful. This uniquely allows a comparison of effectiveness across media channels and untangles indirect effects like a TV ad driving people to click on a Facebook ad. With a more accurate view of ROI in hand, it’s clear there are some types of advertisers that should consider avoiding social media even in normal times.

It is low interest categories like insurance, politics, banking and toilet paper that see small effects of social advertising and therefore investment that sometimes doesn’t pay back. On the other hand, high interest categories like beer, TV, and video games see much bigger effects.

As Matthew Chappell from Gain Theory put it: “There does appear to be some statistically significant skew towards higher interest goods like cars and high interest FMCG plus, as you’d expect, companies who sell more online do better on social.”

The demographic of the target audience matters too. Younger people are more likely to be persuaded by advertising on Facebook versus other channels. In our experience, the converse is also true. Older people are much less likely to be convinced on this channel.

And then there are some social media campaigns that get an ROI boost because they have a long-lasting effect on sales. We’ve seen video rich social campaigns work like TV in some cases, with effects lingering for more than six months.

This is a feature of social video that we as an industry need to understand better. As linear TV audiences decline and ad-free subscription TV grows, the role of social video in brand building will become more important.

In the examples we’ve seen, YouTube has been a key platform in driving long term effects rather than Facebook. If this is a wider pattern, it could be driven by view-through rates being higher on YouTube and sound being switched on by default, but there is much still to learn.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see whether any of the brands that boycott Facebook this month report declining sales as a result. This could well be the case for Coca-Cola, North Face and Adidas, which have relatively young audiences that play in relatively high interest categories.

Other brands might not notice the difference, especially with the effect of Covid-19 and associated lockdowns still reverberating through the economy.

Either way, all brands considering investment into Facebook need to experiment and evaluate, and not only using the platform’s own tools. Dispassionate analysis that can compare social against other media channels which will help marketers navigate these turbulent times.

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RECMA identifies one South African agency in latest release

Being recognised as the best media agency in your country is a fantastic achievement. Being recognised as a top contender on a global scale is even better. Being the only South African media agency on that global list is the best!

 Global research company RECMA, which evaluates the performance of media agencies around the world, has identified The MediaShop as number nine on its Top 16 Standalone agencies that are part of groups. This is a phenomenal achievement considering the calibre of independent media agencies in South Africa.

The study also confirmed The MediaShop’s market share at 14.6% of the South African market, a higher share than any other international agency listed in this Top 16.

The Debrief, released on the 16th July is a specific analysis separate to its annual performance ranking of 900 media agencies around 50 countries. The MediaShop, while partly owned by the IPG Group, is a mostly locally owned and a standalone agency.

“As a majority locally owned media agency, The MediaShop is a proudly South African business that is well known for pioneering and innovating thinking,” says shareholder and board chairman Bonang Mohale. “In a market as unique as South Africa it’s imperative that any media agency is able to make autonomous, quick and decisive decisions for clients based on its local current climate at any given point. This is just one factor that sets The MediaShop apart. As a collective we’d like to congratulate The MediaShop team for once again placing the agency firmly on the world map of media agency excellence.”

The MediaShop:

The MediaShop is South Africa’s most established, most awarded, most transformed media agency, and member of the Nahana Communications Group of specialist agencies, each with their own independent structures, cultures and management teams, and a desire to work together where synergy exists.

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Good Things Guy launches Good Things Live

South Africa’s Good Things Guy, Brent Lindeque, has expanded his online platform to include Good Things Live, a live streamed show hosted on the platform that has already amassed over 76 000 views over just five episodes.

 Featuring guests the likes of The Kiffness, Riaan Manser and Mike Sharman, Good Things Live profiles SouthMaggie Africans in the business, entertainment and leisure industries providing both entertainment and inspiration to all South Africans during lockdown and into the future.

With each episode around half an hour, Good Things Live began in June this year when Adriaan Gerber of Mushroom Productions approached Brent with the idea. He says: “I met Brent a few years ago. Whilst producing Goliaths Go Live I approached Brent to be on as a guest with the Goliaths. When that episode hit 7000 views, I knew we had to ask him back for a second episode. When his second appearance also hit great numbers, I approached him about launching a Good Things Live programme, an idea that he was coincidentally playing with at the same time.”

“The response so far has been absolutely phenomenal,” adds Brent, “and it has given South Africans another avenue to connect with people, hear their stories and know that they are not alone in this pandemic. Additionally, for me, it’s an opportunity to raise the profile of struggling artists and people of influence and to remind South Africans to support one another in any way that we can.”

SkyroomLive has been pioneering the livestreaming market since 2012 and offers an opportunity to reach fans beyond borders and across time zones, giving artists and performers the opportunity to be filmed and broadcast live to a worldwide audience.

“The awareness of each Good Things Live episode has definitely grown,” says Adriaan. “We have completed five episodes to date with just over 76 000 total views. With the current trend on archived broadcasts we should hit 82 000 views before we air episode 6. We really enjoy working with Brent and know that the show will grow in popularity week to week.”

Sponsorship opportunities are available for brands interested in collaborating the Good Things Live show and can be tailored per budget.

The Good Things Guy can be found at, on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Made in… purpose

Arisha Saroop, Managing Director of The MediaShop Durban

Kantar’s Covid Barometer research shows that South Africans want brands to be purpose-led and practical, using their resources to help and inform during the global pandemic we find ourselves in.

Arisha Saroop, Managing Director of The MediaShop Durban shares a few examples of global and South African brands that have reinvented to be more purpose led.

The Covid-19 crisis has left its mark on virtually every single industry around the world and on all levels from a social, health and economic perspective. As some economies ground to a halt and others are still recovering from imposed lockdowns, there is no doubt that this pandemic challenges our ordinary and brands, like individuals, are being forced to re-examine every aspect of their daily operations, find new ways to survive, adapt, offer purposeful existence and maintain relevance within our new reality.

The majority of clothing and accessories stores were initially considered non-essential, and employment in this already struggling sector fell by 58.9% from February to April this year as per Business Insider research – it’s no wonder then that this sector had to take the leap of adaptability during these unprecedented times.

With no social gatherings fighting for RSVP’s – couture wardrobe and designer accessories have taken space at the back of the cupboard. Given the increased need for personal protective items; international and local design houses have evolved their offerings to stay relevant, purposeful and to deliver a supportable service.

Internationally, Tommy Hilfiger has donated 10 000 T-shirts to Covid-19 front line healthcare workers – in an effort to provide a change of clothes for those between shifts or just to freshen up from their daily PPE wear. In addition to this, they’ve launched a special capsule collection with 100% of sale proceeds going towards pandemic relief efforts.

Renowned French luxury conglomerate LVMH, known for their handbags and champers – swopped their leather and bubbles by converting three of their perfume manufacturing facilities, usually reserved for Christian Dior, Givenchy and Guerlain fragrances, into hand sanitizer production factories. These were given at no charge to the largest hospital system in Europe and to French authorities. Keeping staff employed and responding to public interest is what has kept this luxury brand purposeful and relevant.

It didn’t just stop at production though as one might have assumed; British brand Burberry has vouched to use its global supply chain network to deliver over 100,000 surgical masks to the NHS, and additionally, Burberry is also funding research into a single-dose vaccine developed by the University of Oxford.

Closer to home, Polo South Africa’s shirt factory in Atlantis Cape Town, recently pledged to provide 250 000 reusable and washable cotton face masks to essential service providers and at-risk commuters. Even though the masks are not medical grade, these indispensable items provide safety in reducing the virus spread. L’Oréal SA recently introduced a new range of hand sanitizers under its natural brand Garnier that will be donated to the South African Covid-19 Solidarity Fund to assist frontline workers. Iconic couture designer Gavin Rajah under his NPO White Light Movement trains victims of gender-based violence to make fabric face masks – the profits from the sales of these items assist them economically and the families they support.

Kantar’s Covid Barometer research provides insight into consumer behaviour that South Africans want brands to be purpose-led and practical, using their resources to help and inform.

Each of these brands have shown purpose in their adaption; either by utilizing their resources for alternate production or supporting a just cause towards the fight against the invisible pandemic – this has no doubt been for the greater good of the consumers and the brand.

This proactive reaction has kept the lights on for businesses in many aspects – by keeping their staff employed, supporting the local economy, producing essential items, staying relevant and most importantly, adding to their existence and purpose!

For consumers, such adaptions and purpose driven production translates to brands that care. A renewed brand purpose is reassuring during times of crisis, as consumers may not be buying today – however when we do return to “business as usual” we will remember and reward brands that offered meaningful sustainable support.

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The MediaShop and Nedbank deliver next level media thinking

In a recent campaign, The MediaShop and client Nedbank displayed just how great minds think differently, while delivering some next level media planning for a South African TV first.

DSTV viewers were quite surprised when they experienced a completely new form of advertising while pausing their favourite series on DStv’s Catch Up service. In a first for the South African television industry, DStv launched its ‘Pause Screens’ function where, in the Catch Up environment, viewers are served an advert when pause is pressed on the remote. The MediaShop together with client Nedbank were quick to take advantage of this new concept by purchasing the first Paused Screen campaign.

According to Gareth Grant, Business Unit Manager at The MediaShop, Nedbank has always been willing to test new and innovative platforms that others may not. Over lockdown The MediaShop progressed this idea with the DStv Media Sales team. “Being first to market for Nedbank and ourselves was important because together as we consider both companies thought leaders and pioneers within the media industry. To make it easier, the DStv Media Sales team have always been a real pleasure to work with, not only through this process but with everything that we throw at them.

We were exceptionally pleased with the results of the campaign. We know that viewers make use of the pause facility often, whether on live TV or within the Catch Up environment and this is a fantastic way to make use of that on-screen time! Suitable Catch Up series were selected based on the target market and each delivered their fair number of impacts*.

We practice what we preach when we say that we believe there is always a better way to connect our clients’ brands with their consumers. As respected specialists in the industry and as demonstrated in the Nedbank campaign, together with pioneering clients we’ve delivered revolutionary solutions.”

*Impacts – A measure of viewing to commercial spots. Impacts are added together to give the total number of impacts delivered by a particular advertising campaign.

 The MediaShop:

The MediaShop is South Africa’s most established, most awarded, most transformed media agency, and member of the Nahana Communications Group of specialist agencies, each with their own independent structures, cultures and management teams, and a desire to work together where synergy exists.

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2020 has been one for the history books!

Gareth Grant, Business Unit Director, The MediaShop

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would live to experience a global event of this scale that would be remembered for years to come. I recall studying about the likes of the Great Depression, the French Revolution and both First and Second World Wars, but to actually live through something so surreal, no chance. Enter COVID-19…

The 26th of March 2020 will be a date that no South African will ever forget. It was the date when our country entered lockdown and life as we knew it was turned upside down. Our movements were limited, there was a curfew in place, and what we could and couldn’t purchase was drastically affected. No take-aways? What do you mean?

In the beginning, I kept positive by reminding myself that this was only for three weeks… But wait…, three weeks was quickly extended to five weeks. Hmmm, that made it a bit more challenging to remain optimistic, especially when focusing on all the restrictions put in place. I allowed one day to feel sorry for myself and then I switched gear and realised this is a great opportunity to “hit reset”, and reflect on my life and re-evaluate what is a priority and what isn’t.

It gave me time to reflect on what is a necessity and what is a nice-to-have and to focus on the important things and be grateful for all that I have. If I was to do this properly, I would need to be deliberate about my priorities and the things I value most. I was sent an article which spoke about “time chunking” and how to break up your day. I found this to be very beneficial and so went about making a list of things I enjoy and value and things that are a necessity. From there I was more deliberate in allocating my hours, carving out work time and keeping to a schedule.

Weekends were no longer a mix of work and play but dedicated to time with my wife and our two Beagles and things that I enjoy doing.

Even as we move to less stringent levels of lockdown, I keep to a routine and start my day with a relaxing activity. Some people like to meditate, do yoga, journal or have some other form of quiet time. I like being in the bush or nature so starting my day with game drive and a cup of coffee is the best. Sarai Live on YouTube is fantastic if you share my passion for wildlife! Also, no weekend goes by without me doing things I love, like braaiing, making a potjie or doing my “skottel” breakfast as we often do when in the Kruger National Park. After all, if I can’t be in the bush at least I can have some aspects of being on a bush trip.

I have revaluated the amount of time I spend on social platforms too, as well as what type of news I consume. Video consumption in my house has increased during lockdown and across various platforms but I am more selective about the content I consume. The #RELIVE content on SuperSport was excellent! With no live sport at the time, watching old sporting events was nostalgic. I mean who could ever get bored of watching the Boks beat England in both the 2007 and 2019 Rugby World Cup Finals? And it was fun to reminisce with people I watched these events with when they were live. It is evident that I wasn’t the only person consuming a lot more video content. We just have to look at the stats across the likes of YouTube, Mzansi Magic, DStv Now and Catch Up to see this in action. Some audiences have grown by more than 30% in some instances.

My consumption, however, was not aimless. After all, I was hitting the reset button. I watched a lot of “how-to” content. No, not how to make pineapple homebrew. I have a real passion for woodworking and enjoy that time I get to spend by myself working on creations, so the content was around how to set up my workshop efficiently and ensure that I was making the best use of the space I have for my hobby and who better to ask than YouTube or Pinterest? The ideas that are available are endless. I’m glad to say that my workshop is mostly set up, and I continue to spend time in this space which adds value to my life, making things for people I care about.

As we continue to wade through these uncertain times, I urge you to take stock, evaluate what is and isn’t important, and then hit reset. Spend time doing the things that you love, have a passion for and those that add value to your life. Be deliberate about what you do. Don’t just go through the motions, because as we have seen life as we know it can change in the blink of an eye. So have no regrets, but mostly importantly, have fun!

Stay safe!

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Crazy times change behaviour. Forever.

Chris Botha, Group Managing Director, Park Advertising

We’ve been through 9/11, load shedding and one of the worst droughts our country has ever seen says Chris Botha, Group Managing Director, Park Advertising. Now in the thick of COVID-19, there is more evidence that we will learn, overcome and possibly emerge from this crisis all the better.

So here we are, on what feels like day 7 020 013 of Lockdown. Our country and the world is going through arguably one of the biggest seismic shifts of society (try say that three times fast) we’ve ever faced. And the one thing we can be sure of is that nothing will ever be the same again.

Crazy times have long, far reaching, deep societal impacts. History shows that these are mostly for the better because the result is a change in behaviour. And not just for now, forever. New fears are drummed into our heads, and we respond in a bold manner. New businesses are formed, and old ones die off. It’s the way of the world.

On the 10th of September, 2001 – you could walk up to an airline counter, buy a ticket with no ID, walk straight through to the gate, get on a plane, pop into the cockpit to say hi to the captain, and within reason do what you wanted. Post September 11 the whole world changed. Now we hold fears and precautions we never envisioned of before. We changed our travel behaviour. I would argue that travel today is safer, and better than it ever was before. But how, where and when we travel fundamentally changed since that fateful day.

Remember 2009? Life was hunky dory when without notice the lights went out across the country. South Africans learnt a new term called “load shedding” and it has been a hot topic for the past 11 years and will be for some time to come. The interesting change in behaviour we saw was that we became aware of a finite supply of electricity. In 2019 – South Africans used less electricity than they did in 2009. We learnt how to cope with less. Generators became a standard, and many new businesses and industries popped up.

In Cape Town 2016 a monumental drought changed a province. I don’t have access to any stats, but would imagine that water consumption in 2019 would be drastically lower than what it was in let’s say 2014. Capetonians are now deeply water aware as a result of this crisis.

What does this all mean? Crazy times, change behaviour. Forever.

Now here is the interesting part. What behaviours will change? I suspect we can all look at our individual industries and identify a few.

  1. Will travel ever the same again? How comfortable do you feel with 300 strangers breathing the same air as you for 8 hours or more?
  2. Speaking of travel – how strict will nations become before they let “outsiders” in again? I suspect we will all have to travel with an “all clear” from a recognised doctor to any destination.
  3. Cinemas and restaurants might have to change the experience to accommodate for more cautious customers.
  4. How many people who normally read newspapers and magazines, have “fallen out of the habit” during this lockdown period, and are unlikely to ever pick one up again?
  5. Many businesses have learnt that staff can work from home in a very effective manner. What does that mean for commuter patterns? If there is no more “drive time” what does it mean for Television and Radio audiences? What does it mean for OOH and other road side furniture?
  6. Day time Television – always a powerful medium (even though under rated) might become even stronger. And streaming services like DSTV Now, and Showmax will continue to grow at an exponential rate and take their place in the sun.

The list could carry on for ages. Take your pick. Commercial property will never be the same, neither will hospitals, or how governments operate and I do believe we will see a spike in conservative nationalism.

Time will tell, but for those making business plans for the future, know that all bets are off.

The consumer will be different. The world will be vastly different. That presents a threat and also a massive opportunity. Stay light on your feet, keep adapting and offering value, and the world post COVID-19 might well be your oyster.

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Pockets of opportunity can always be found in adversity

Neo Mtshatsheni, Media Strategist at The MediaShop

Despite the pandemic holding many hostage in their homes, South Africans have continued to find innovative ways to have their voices heard and to show off their skills through, for example, gaming or content creation. From a channel perspective, digital was always going to reap more benefit from this audience and the lockdown period has certainly affirmed this especially in the eSports category and on social media.

Platforms like Instagram and Facebook Live have certainly proved their worth over the past few months. Moving away from posting images of themselves enjoying a meal at the coolest, trendiest restaurant or spotting their latest pair of jeans, sneakers or sunglasses, South Africa’s youth have used these platforms to engage on issues ranging from racism, GBV, etc.

IGTV (Instagram TV) saw its first Instavella created by Ayanda Mkayi which depicts the lives of individuals living in an apartment block in Johannesburg during the national lockdown, with all scenes shot individually from the actors’ homes. Shooting ads and general TV production during lockdown was prohibited and now despite the extensive safety measures that are put in place, production still falls victim to the invisible COVID-19 enemy halting production. But fresh, relatable content remains key and as there is a growing need for local content, IGTV soapies are something to look out for!

On the eSports front, South Africa may not compare to its global counterparts in terms of the sheer size of active gamers but the interest and gaming community numbers are increasing steadily and will continue to do so. For every mobile device in hand lies a gamer and current stats show that 71% of connected South Africans play games exclusively from their mobile device. And for a category that is usually perceived to be predominantly male, 63% of them are women aged 30 and 50% of them are older than 34yrs and are using the platform as a means to escape their everyday lives. There are also many that play competitively against their male counterparts.

Console owners also provide a sizable opportunity for marketers with 53.8% of households having children that go to school, 39% are 35-49yrs and 25% are 24-34yrs. This audience might have a male skew but paired with the mobile universe it most certainly delivers numbers and diversity.

Most importantly, right now in South Africa mobile gaming is probably also the easiest way to buy media and get your brand in front of eyes. The growth in this category has been exponential compared to general entertainment, the global e-sports industry has been growing at a rate of 30% YOY and the PC gaming market is set to be worth 45.5 billion USD (788.1 billion ZAR) in 2021! The global box office which generated revenue to the tune of 41.7 billion USD (722.2 billion ZAR) in 2008 and the gaming market generated 151.2 billion USD (2.6 trillion ZAR). With fewer eyeballs available for live sports and more time indoors this category is certainly one that cannot be ignored.

As marketers, the ever-changing landscape and demographic we are constantly challenged to not only look for meaningful insights but re-evaluating the norm as the bar continues to be set high and the only constant throughout being change.

Masks, sanitisers and Zoom – local team takes TV ad production to a new level

What did it take to shoot a TV ad during South Africa’s lockdown? Over 75 hours of Zoom meetings, 48 Skype casting calls and four remote callbacks, six hours of online cast rehearsals, five virtual location reccies, over 1500 WhatsApp messages, 200 emails, hundreds of phone calls, and a very unusual kind of shoot day.  

All this to bring the new A.Vogel Echinaforce TV commercial to screens in time for winter and generate much needed income for over 35 people, mostly freelance professionals whose earnings would be among those hardest hit by the lockdown.

Initially as commercial director Dani Hynes raced home from Dubai ahead of the 27 March lockdown date, she assumed her next production, the Echinaforce TV ad, would be cancelled. Agency A Country for Jane and their client, SA Natural Products, were thinking the same thing.

But as lockdown commenced, a story of determination and ingenuity started up in the lounges, kitchens and even bedrooms of the team tasked with making this advert.

Hynes explains: “We’d been looking forward to making the advert as the product has some great new clinical evidence to share and the creative concept was beautiful and very different to normal cold and flu adverts. When lockdown was announced it initially seemed impossible. But then, Echinaforce is an immune support product, and right now immune health is everyone’s priority, so getting this ad out became something of a personal challenge and mission for all of us.”

With the natural order of work severely disrupted, and Levels 5 and 4 lockdown regulations prohibiting TV shoots, a monumental behind-the-scenes effort to prepare for an uncertain shoot day got underway. What was normally due process, became constant improvisation.

Team members, used to working closely together, had to now consult over Zoom. Production, used to working with reliable suppliers, now found them unavailable. This necessitated a complete rethink around props, costumes and location reccies.

“The script called for a florist shop, where Shaleen Surtie-Richards personifies the Echinaforce brand with her warm and nurturing performance. She’s way more than your average florist, offering nature’s healing support to worried customers who need help,” says Ursula Mcdonald, A Country for Jane MD. “It’s there, as she arranges echinacea bouquets in that enchanting setting, that the benefits of Echinaforce come to life. And that’s where our challenges began. We needed just the right location to create that special shop. Yet we couldn’t even leave our homes to scout for potential locations.”

“The location reccies were unique,” explains Hynes. “We had to request photos and videos from possible locations or have the owners ‘walk us’ around the properties using FaceTime. Not being able to visit the sites, see how the light comes in or get a proper feel for the space was challenging. In the end we were only granted physical access to the location the day before the shoot.”

Hynes continues: “Another challenge was the fact that we needed a lot of Echinacea purpurea flowers. Knowing they wouldn’t be in bloom in autumn, we’d originally planned to create them from silk. Now our silk couldn’t be flown into the country and we were out of time. The only option left was to digitally create them in postproduction.”

The wardrobe team and cast had their ‘new normal’ work cut out for them too. Without access to online shopping just sourcing shoes and accessories for the cast was a logistical feat. Actors, normally used to interacting with each other in lively script reads, had to learn the art of auditioning and rehearsing over Skype or Zoom with only the director to interact with.

While permission was finally obtained to shoot towards the end of Level 4, only a limited number of crew, donning masks and adhering to regular temperature checks and hygiene protocols, could attend the physical shoot. This left the client and agency team behind computer screens approving the footage remotely.

Locked down in Durban, the Echinaforce marketing team had to watch the live action in Johannesburg over their computers. “Normally you’re at the shoot, you meet the cast and you can give immediate input and direction on your brand. Now we were trying to watch takes via a dodgy YouTube Live link, while liaising with the agency and director over WhatsApp,” says marketing director Estie Schreiber. “Not seeing the cast’s performances live or knowing what Dani was aiming for in the moment was difficult.  Eventually we were approving takes via WhatsApp clips. How they pulled this off and delivered such a beautiful production is testimony to this whole team’s remarkable tenacity and professionalism.”

After seven weeks of fielding numerous logistical lockdown curve balls and the delayed shoot date leaving just three days for post-production and final approvals, the Echinaforce TVC material was ready and delivered to stations on deadline. And over WhatsApp, the teams celebrated a ‘new normal’ success story in very abnormal times!

Contact:                      A Country for Jane

                                    Pippa Capstick


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