WeChat, a mobile text and voice messaging service, has produced a series of
quirky adverts which feature local and international celebrities purging their
stresses and qualms to a psychiatrist with Freudian flair.
Comfortably positioned on a cliched chaise longue, the characters of Mark
Zuckerberg, Gareth Cliff and a couple of concerned social media lawyers are
prescribed WeChat as the medicine to any and all of their personal problems.
Conceived by The Jupiter Drawing Room in Cape Town and produced by Giant
Films, the adverts show and explain that WeChat offers much more than just
messaging features to its users.
“The brief was to create a humorous character that could become the WeChat
mascot, who could deliver WeChat’s features in each ad we did,’ says director
Peri Van Papendorp, who believes it was crucial that each ad tickled the funny
bone. “The idea was to use celebs on the couch to create “talkability’ around the
brand, playing on the fact that the public are already aware of those celeb’s
The agency allowed Van Papendorp to inject his own humorous nuances into
the brief and to build texture into the psychiatrist character. This included adding
character eccentricities like the character’s taxidermy hobby, his collection of
self-portraits and his towering assistant Frauke whom he has sexual tension
The first commercials, which feature Zuckerberg and the lawyers, were shot on 8
March while the Gareth Cliff advert was shot on 8 April. Both shoots took place
in the grand library room at Rhodes Place in Cape Town and were captured
using an Arri Alexa high-speed 4K camera.
Van Papendorp comments: “The psychiatrist’s room was a great device to have
our lead deliver the features of WeChat in a way that featured him prescribing it
to his celebrity patients. Part of the quirkiness in these spots is that he is a
sincere and learned doctor, in the spirit of Freud and Jung, but his prescriptions
are always just WeChat. It also felt like the kind of environment we could have
some fun in and create a great structure for what are essentially retail
Confident that South African audiences will enjoy the quirks and mannerisms of
the doctor figure, played by top voice over artist and ex Hollywood puppeteer
Adam Behr, Van Papendorp says: “His grasp of accents is phenomenal and he is
an accomplished performer who not only takes direction well but has great ideas
himself. Couple that with having the right look for the role, and he was a good
The production team for the second set of WeChat adverts, which consists of
DOP Grant Appleton, gaffer Lesley Manual, grip Allan Gray, art director Laurence
Bishop and wardrobe stylist Dihantus Engelbrecht is currently working on the
last commercial in post-production, which Van Papendorp says will give viewers
another celeb-coaching shrink session on the couch to look forward to.