South African cinema goers are familiar with the story of Philani, and how, after losing his sight, he had it returned, thanks to Ster Kinekor’s ‘#OpenEyes’ campaign.
Justin Gomes, executive creative director at FoxP2, the agency behind the campaign, spoke to media update’s Adam Wakefield about the campaign and why they entered it into the Loeries Awards, where it won the Grand Prix for Integrated Campaign.
In a nutshell, what inspired the SK ‘#OpenEyes’ campaign?
In the download age, we’re always trying to find innovative ways to remind people they should be watching movies the way they’re meant to be seen, on a SK Big Screen. So when the team came up with the idea of giving a blind boy the gift of sight and asking SA what his first movie should be, we knew we had a winner.
We presented the idea to the client as simply as I’ve just described it and they were all over it, immediately thinking of potential ways to make it happen. We have a saying at Fox that “Difficult is worth doing” and you need like-minded clients to pull off a massive integrated campaign like this one, with all the challenges that come with it.
The campaign is emotional. Viewers meet Philani, learn how he lost his eyesight, see it restored, and how he experiences the film Avatar, as others do, for the first time. How did the story of Philani come together from the agency’s side? How much time did it take to develop?
The entire project took two years to complete. Our first challenge was finding a suitable candidate and this took close to a year, as most of the visually impaired people we saw were very old. It was important for the narrative that we found someone the public would be able to emotionally connect with.
Eventually, we found Philani through our client’s Vision Mission CSI Initiative and, as soon as I met Philani, I knew we had our guy. He was incredibly introverted and lacking in confidence, but I was immediately taken by his ability to connect with people despite his handicap. The support system, in terms of friends and family around him, was just incredible and we knew they would play an invaluable role in telling Philani’s story.
We then brought on Dave Meinert of They Productions, and I must just give a shout-out to Darren Gordon and his team, they handled the subject matter so sensitively.
Why did you decide to enter this campaign into the Loeries?
The Loeries is the gold standard in local creative excellence and, although Philani’s story of hope is a universal one, we felt the way we had involved the South African public gave the campaign quite a local flavour. Seeing the campaign featured on the front page of The Star and Philani being interviewed in the primetime SABC news-slots was incredibly thrilling for us and no doubt contributed to the success of the campaign.
As an agency, what are the advantages of being associated with the Loeries through entries or other means?
The Loeries have come a long way in recognising work that feels distinctively South African. I love the fact that campaigns like Nando’s ‘Dictator’ and Santam’s ‘One Of A Kind Country’ win the big prizes at the Loeries. These are the campaigns that won’t necessarily be recognised at the international shows because they are so distinctively South African nuanced.
It also feels like after the MTN ‘Nowhere Library’ debacle, there are stringent checks and balances in place to ensure work that truly permeates local popular culture is the work being recognised.
How gratifying was it for FoxP2and the client that the Ster Kinekor ‘#OpenEyes’ campaign won the Integrated Grand Prix?
It’s the big one, isn’t it? I stand to correction, but I think only a handful of Integrated Grand Prixs have been handed out at the Loerie Awards since inception, so it’s incredibly rewarding and testament to all the hard work put in by agency and client.
I always say ‘”no great work is created in a vacuum” and if you look at the big ideas that have become a part of popular South African culture over the last few decades, a close relationship between client and agency is the common denominator. Think Ogilvy and VW in the eighties, Hunts and Nando’s in the nineties. With the rise of procurement, these relationships are more crucial now than ever if South African advertising is to produce world-class work.
For more information, visit www.loeries.com or www.foxp2.com.