A new podcast series, titled The 200 Year Old, is making its presence felt on iTunes, challenging chart toppers such as Ted Talks and Oprah as the most downloaded podcast in South Africa.
Sanlam’s future-facing podcast series paints a picture of a world 200 years from now that’s full of possibilities. “We’re hoping this campaign will give South Africa its ‘Serial moment’, said Dan Pinch, executive creative director at the King James Group. “Serial catapulted podcasts from niche to mainstream consumption in the US market. We believe The 200 Year Old could be our big podcasting moment at home.”
The descriptor on iTunes mentions the starring roles of Thapelo Mokoena and Nambitha Mpumlwana but also highlights that what the listener hears is based on current science and future forecasts, by leading experts on longevity and the future world. So while it is fiction, set in a projected future, it is supplemented by the opinions of present day experts. And it warns that the expert opinions are those of the experts themselves and do not necessarily reflect the official views of Sanlam.
Pinch describes the four-part podcast series as “a movie you can listen to”. Set in 2218, it tells the story of the world’s first 200 year-old, who some scientists predict has already been born. In doing so, it creates a mind-blowing vision of the future and some of the changes we’re likely to face as a consequence of staying younger for longer – possibly forever.
“We’ve brought the production values you would normally get on a movie or major documentary to an audio series and involved some of the country’s top acting and production talent,” says Pinch. “This is the most ambitious campaign I’ve personally worked on for Sanlam, with 70 pages of script and over three weeks of recording to get to almost two hours of performance, so we hope the public are as excited by the content as we are.”
The series asks questions such as what does the death of ageing mean? Would it change the way you made some of life’s biggest decisions? Imagine what you could achieve. How would living for so long change society? You could have multiple careers and retire more than once, ‘blockchain marriages’ may have an expiry date, and the workforce is likely to seismically shift as eight (or more) generations work side-by side. Plus, families and friendships will change as grandparents come face-to-face with some +60 descendants – as is the case in the podcast, which centres around a conversation between Lesedi, the soon-to-be 200 year-old, and her great, great, great, great, great grandson Sam.
Part of a new trend of scripted, high-production value podcasts, which have only just started to appear globally, the series relied on some of the world’s foremost experts on longevity and the world of the future to formulate the script. These experts also feature in the podcast, giving context and credibility to Lesedi’s story.
Pinch says the podcast is testament to Sanlam’s progressive and intelligent approach to marketing. “Sanlam has become synonymous for thought-provoking campaigns like One Rand Man and Uk’Shona Kwelanga, South Africa’s first WhatsApp drama series. The 200 Year Old was created as part of the group’s centenary celebration, looking forward to the next 100 years and more to ask the big questions that count.”
Mariska Oosthuizen, head of brand at Sanlam, says the podcast “illustrates our future focused, progressive nature as a business, and, importantly, it allows us to intelligently start interrogating a tomorrow we all need to start preparing for – especially financially.”
Fans of global podcasts should make it a priority to check out the South Africa series, says Pinch. “And if you’re not into podcasts, now’s the time to start listening. It’s the perfect antidote to commuting blues.”
To listen to The 200 Year Old podcast series for free, visit the200yearold.co.za.
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