– 9 October 2013

The Ad

Known as “Africa’s richest square mile”, if one digs into the history of Sandton, you’ll find that the area has frequently been associated with wealth. Some 400 years ago tribes that watered their livestock in the springs and streams that then populated the area, started an iron smelting economy in the area.

The Sandton Tourism Association keeps a history of this place, and this record states that as little as 120 years ago one of the richest gold fields in the world was discovered in the area now called Sandton. Those of us old enough to remember when this part of the northern suburbs was filled will grassy estates and sandy horse trails will recall why the area was once called ‘the mink and manure belt’.

Today, Sandton is South Africa’s financial powerhouse place and is home to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. You will also find the head offices of companies such as Discovery, Nedbank, Investec, Rand Merchant Bank and the China Construction Bank.

Closely tied

Interestingly enough, the Liberty Group’s history is closely tied to that of Sandton’s, which is why the latest brand-building campaign from the financial brand makes such sense. Liberty is the owner of Sandton City which first opened its doors about a decade and a half after the financial brand was founded by Donald Gordon.

Just as Sandton has grown into a financial powerhouse, so too has Liberty. Today, the brand has assets of some R566 billion under its management, and is no longer just an insurance company but a financial services organisation that offers health, investment and asset management products as well.

By telling the story of Sandton City, the Liberty Group unfolds the journey of its own growth through time. The advertising movie is constructed on a single-take concept, and it is likely this was achieved using 3D animation.

The shot starts with a modern-day night-time framing of Sandton City. As the camera tracks in, the picture pauses, and then rapidly reverses to create a virtual reverse time-lapse of the building of the Sandton City complex.

Great copy

The copy is great. It begins with the statement, “This is the richest square mile in Africa, and the powerhouse of its economy. But it didn’t start that way.”

The strong, male voice-over goes on to talk about how Liberty had to find a way to make its clients’ investments grow, in a growing economy. By founding Sandton City, the company “built a way to grow people’s money in a way no-one had thought possible”. Powerful copy that makes one believe that this was a visionary company, all of four decades ago.

The huge time-span that the story covers convincingly illustrates how its growth was predicated on being able to ‘see the future’ but investing in it and helping it to come to pass.

As the history of Sandton City unfolds in reverse, the voice artist asks:

“Do you know how to make my little today enough for the day I no longer work? Or for the day I’m no longer around? That question, which determines someone’s reality, should never be answered with theory or opinion. So we built the answer. A place we built with more than just concrete and glass. A place we built with knowledge. That got stuck in and built a way to grow people’s money in a way no-one had thought possible. This became the richest square mile in Africa, the powerhouse of its economy. The day knowledge rolled up its sleeves.”

Knowledge is never enough

At the end of the commercial, one’s sight rests on an empty field — supposedly the site of the founding of Sandton City in 1973 — with three men standing around a car and looking at plans. It is a moment of reflection that aptly ties in with the understanding created by the copy that knowledge is never enough. That success can only be assured through the wedding of knowledge and hard work.

The advertisement does well for the Liberty brand, because it conveys a feeling of trust and longevity — exactly what you want from a financial brand, particularly if you’re looking at it to invest in your future.

The agency responsible for this visual feast and bold statement is FoxP2 , which has been well established in Cape Town for some time now. But the Johannesburg offices only opened in March this year, and the shop is being creatively and independently lead by Grant Jacobsen. [Read “FoxP2 Johannesburg open for business”.]

Given the calibre of work this agency is producing, I’d keep an eye out for it. Like Sandton and Liberty, it is highly likely it’ll go good places.