Big Creative Advertising Idea, Immortalized In The Movie Invictus With Nelson Mandela

January 5, 2010

It’s not often that an advertising campaign is immortalized in a huge hit movie starring some of the prominent actors in Hollywood. This however is one of them.

In 1995, my agency suggested that our client South African Airways be the major sponsor of the Rugby World Cup, given that South Africa had been picked as the host nation. This was the first world sporting event that South Africa was to participate in since the release of Nelson Mandela and the election of a government of national unity.

 Leading up to the event we ran a series of commercials featuring some of South Africa’s most well known rugby players. In each commercial we finished with the player looking at a Boeing 747 flying overhead.  Here are two examples.

At the actual event, we planned to Fly a Boeing 747  over the stadium with the words “Good Luck Bokke” (good luck Springboks – our national team) written under the belly and wings of the plane.

The plane was flown by Captain Laurie, an extremely experienced SAA pilot together with his crew. The plane left on it’s epic flight that day making sure that they were directly over the stadium (Ellis Park) at exactly 14.32 and 45 seconds.

Take a look at the flyover.

The plane made two roaring passes that electrified both the people in the stadium and those watching the event around the world. It garnered a $140 million dollars in additional unpaid advertising exposure worldwide. The whole campaign was such an incredible success that most viewers will never forget it. Clearly this was way before the events of 9/11.

Kevin Tromp was my senior account person on the business and the CMO at the time was a gentleman by the name of Ian Bromley. An incredible client and a good friend. Thanks to the tenacity of both these individuals and an extremely talented flight crew we were able to pull off what is probably one of the most amazing promotional spectacles at any world sporting event.

What made it even better is that we won the game against all odds. Here is the commercial we aired just before the 8pm news on national broadcast television on the day. Footage was shot on the field, flown by helicopter to the edit suite, edited and sent to the station in less than 3 hours.

Take a look at it.