Santam had television viewers doing a double take recently when it launched its new television advertising campaign. There was Oscar award-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley walking barefoot along Noordhoek’s Long Beach. Or wait. Was it the English actor? It certainly sounded like him…
In fact, it is Sir Ben Kingsley. And in fact, there were two ‘Ben Kingsleys’. One the genuine article; the other, not so much.
That, of course, was the point of the story. Some insurance policies look and sound real. But are they? Devin Kennedy, creative director at King James advertising and on the Santam campaign, said that in order to bring the premise of ‘Insurance good and proper’ to life, the team had to ask those questions too.
“Firstly, there were the questions we asked ourselves at the start of the creative process. What would a campaign that was to relaunch Santam and reaffirm them in the minds of consumers as the market leader look like? What would it sound like? What would connect with consumers and stand out from the clutter of the insurance category?,” he explained.
“Secondly there were the questions we wanted to ask the consumer. Words like ‘fast’ and ‘cheap’ have become the drivers of purchase when it comes to insurance and South Africans needed to be reminded that while these days insurance can be bought as easily as milk and bread, that to properly protect the things they value, time and attention needs to be paid to the quality of their cover.”
And so, the questions they asked became the questions used in the ad.
“The TV ad asks the questions we wanted to instil in consumers’ minds:
“How do you know whether your insurance policy is the real McCoy?
“Is it full-on, proper insurance?
“Or is it sort-of, kind-of, oh-you’re-not-totally-covered-for-that-insurance?
“Will it do what it’s meant to do when it really matters?
“Will it live up to your expectations?
“Lastly the add prompts viewers to go and scrutinise their insurance and question it to see if it’s the insurance they think it is or merely resemble it. ”
“The change comes from a clear-headed business decision,” said Yegs Ramiah, executive head of people and brand at Santam. “The revised logo exploits the fact that the yellow umbrella is instantly recognisable and has become a South African brand icon. However, this is more than just a revised visual representation of the brand. The redesign comes on the back of a number of hard, yet important, business decisions and ambitions. It differentiates Santam’s offering and value to shareholders, clients, partners and the broader South African economy.”
The quest to get Sir Ben Kingsley to sign on for the ad was far from easy. “It’s always difficult to lock down an international star. Their schedules are very busy and they’re often somewhere in the world shooting features. Secondly it can literally take months to negotiate which becomes stressful when you’re working on a deadline.
“You also have to keep in mind that these people are brands in their own right and won’t do anything they don’t like or that’s puts them in bad light. We were very lucky with Sir Ben as he has a history with South Africa with Ghandi and likes our country. It is however the first ad that he has done for South Africa,” said Kennedy.
Equally challenging was finding a decent lookalike – and getting him to agree to shave his head a la Kingsley. The solution was close to home. South African composer Rob Shroeder took on the role.
“Luckily we didn’t have to pay Rob Shroeder extra to shave his head but it did take some convincing. Rob’s resemblance to Sir Ben is not only uncanny, but he is also one of South Africa’s best music composers so we offered him the music to make up for his sacrifice and sweeten the deal. If you take into consideration that Rob is not an actor, he did a great job and in the end he also created a great music track that we were very happy with,” Kennedy told TheMediaOnline.
The advertisement was shot in Cape Town on the wild and wonderful Long Beach that stretches from Noordhoek to Kommetjie. It was a tough shoot, says Kennedy, with the city’s temperamental weather enhancing the look of the ad, but a nightmare for cast and crew.
“The lovely misty look was fairly easy as it was in fact quite misty! Credit also has to be given to our director Dean Blumberg from Bouffant who did an excellent job bringing the idea to life. We started shooting round 6am in the mornings and had about an hour before the light turned bad so we had to work fast. Then we had about another hour and a half in the afternoon to shoot,” Kennedy said.
“On the second day of shooting it started raining quite heavily which was a big uh-oh moment. Usually you’d call a weather day but with Sir Ben flying back in two days that wasn’t an option. So most of the day was spent undercover and dashing out to shoot for 10 minutes when there was a clearing. It’s just one of those things, it doesn’t matter how much you plan, the weather doesn’t care about your plans. But after a long day we had the shots we needed and we were all very relieved.”
The result was the stunningly simple but evocative advertisement. Santam CEO, Ian Kirk, used the effective mobile medium to alert journalists to the ad’s debut on televsion. It created a buzz on Twitter.
“The sms’s were the client’s initiative and not part of a broader digital strategy as such. But it’s always fantastic when your client is excited about the work and takes that initiative,” said Kennedy. “As far as the roll-out goes, it’s still early days for the campaign. Currently we are working with all stakeholders on the Santam brand including FCB who handles the below-the-line for the brand and ultimately the roll-out will occur across all platforms.”