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Sanlam launches Conversations with Yourself campaign

Imagine having a conversation with yourself at six different ages. Older YOU could tell younger YOU when you’re going to lose the dad bod… you’ll know whether getting a tattoo at 20 still seems like a good idea when you’re 80… and you may learn what constitutes a good monthly RA contribution. And younger YOU could challenge older YOU to try new things. Are you making the most of your dream retirement? Why don’t you become a 60 year old freelancer? And go skydiving at 70?

Launched this month, Sanlam’s Conversations with Yourself campaign presents seven highly engaging films centred on one simple idea: what if you could learn everything you need to know about life from yourself. The campaign and films by the King James Group focus on a range of financial necessities in a fun, relatable manner and each tell a unique story.

Moe Kekana, art director at the King James Group says, “All seven films were constructed around a different financial product. Shot like a scene from a TV series, with both entertaining banter and poignant conversations, the content is something with which we hope everyone can relate.”

“The way Sanlam does things continuously breaks the mould and pushes beyond the boundaries of a low-interest category. Uk’Shona Kwelanga – SA’s first WhatsApp drama – for example, has been copied countless times. Disrupting the category means not making the easy decisions – it means making pioneering choices instead. That was certainly the case with Conversations with Yourself, which was incredibly technically challenging to produce.”

Sonja Sanders, head of Marketing and Client Experience at Sanlam Personal Finance, says she is hopeful that people will relate to the films, “As soon as you mention retirement to a 20 year old, their eyes glaze over. It’s just too far into the future to think about. Until it’s not. This ground-breaking campaign allows for cross-pollination between every life phase. It brings together all the versions of a person – face-to-face – to ruminate over the tough and fun stuff.”

Sanders says the approach breaks the mould of an ordinary financial services conversation. “At some point, we have all wanted to fast-forward time to know how our lives will work out… whether the choices we make now are the right ones for the future… whether we’ll be happy. ‘Conversations with Yourself’ is a way to make this real. As Wealthsmiths, Sanlam wanted to present the defining nature of all decisions in a convincing yet empowering manner, which demonstrates that people have the power to financially plan a course that allows them to live their best lives. Much of this comes down to making sure there’s sufficient money to achieve the goals that really matter.”


Kathi Jones, group executive producer at King James Group, explains some of the challenges of filming Conversations with Yourself:

  1. Choosing one actor to play all the characters, except the child:

The recurring question was ‘will this convince our audience’? Will they believe they’re seeing six versions of the same person? It’s very uncommon and complex to get one actor to play different roles in the same scene, so it rarely happens in feature films or series. Conversations always has six versions of one person, together, seated in a circle. Initially we set out to cast each role for the ages that they needed to represent, provided they all looked enough alike for us to make small prosthetic alternations. That wasn’t convincing enough when we viewed the tests. So, we took our strongest actor, Thami Buti and asked him to do a camera test of each role from ages 20 to 80. His versatility was phenomenal and we knew that he needed to play all the roles – except the ten year old.

  1. Getting the wardrobe and prosthetics right:

Wardrobe and make-up played a critical role in the characterisation and each age/role was styled in some variation of grey and denim. Thami spent between three to five hours in prosthetics and make-up every shoot day, depending on how old we were making him, adding everything from fake veins and neck sags to various wigs. We wanted to clearly convey our character’s progression – from a young child to a super-fly 20 year old, more responsible 30 year old, dad-bod-bearing 50 year old (there were giggles on-set when Thami’s ‘man boobs’ kept slipping), slimmed-down 65 year old, and wise and humorous 80 year old. Building the character in pre-production was quintessential to the process.

  1. Coordinating the filming:

The shoot was filmed in ages – so all the 20 year old scenes were shot in one day, 30 year old in another, etc. Setting each eye-line for the inter-character dialogue and ensuring that the characters’ movements all synchronised involved body doubles, green screens, hours of overnight editing and scene superimposition. It was crazily, mind-bendingly complicated, but so worth it. There’s not a moment that lacked believability for me – and I hope our audiences will share this experience.

For more information on Conversations with Yourself and to view the films, visit the Sanlam website.

South Africa gets its big podcasting moment

The ground-breaking content of Sanlam’s future-facing podcast series, The 200 Year Old, paints a picture of a world 200 years from now that’s full of possibilities. With movie-quality production, an all-star cast, world-class experts and a script that makes listeners question everything they think they know about the future, it has all the potential to spark a podcast boom by being as relatable as it is innovative.

Dan Pinch, executive creative director at the King James Group says, “We’re hoping this campaign will give SA its ‘Serial moment’. 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.

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. This is the most ambitious campaign I’ve personally worked on for Sanlam, with seventy 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.”

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.

What does the death of aging 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, SA’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, “As WealthsmithsTM, we’re committed to building a better world for generations to come. For the last 100 years, we’ve been building financial futures and lasting legacies. And that’s what we’ll be doing for the next 100 years and longer, hopefully. We believe this podcast illustrates our future focussed, 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.”

Pinch concludes that fans of global podcasts should make it a priority to check out the SA series, “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.

Sanlam launches interactive audio drama

Following the success of South Africa’s first ever WhatsApp drama series – Uk’shona KwelangaSanlam has launched a follow-up audio drama, Lives of Grace. This time the series is highly interactive, with the subscriber able to make a meaningful impact on the outcome of the story-line. It plays out over WhatsApp and for the first time, Facebook Messenger, and uses big name actress, Zola Nombona, to engagingly help consumers understand the impact funerals can have on their financial health and make informed decisions.

Dan Pinch, executive creative director at the King James Group, says social media as a medium to educate and tell stories has a lot to offer audiences. “Brands have really just scratched the surface. The successes we had using WhatsApp –  achieving a total of 44 000 subscribers and 30.5 million impressions – showed us social media is the perfect platform to reach our audience and we are excited to continue to explore telling compelling stories this way.”

This year the drama series is played out almost entirely through voice-notes, making the power of the voice critical to bringing Grace’s story to life.

Acclaimed scriptwriter Bongi Ndaba – who received international accolades for her script for Uk’Shona Kwelanga – also penned the new series. The drama unfolds over five interactive episodes which follow Grace as she faces a series of life-changing scenarios and examines the consequences of some of the defining decisions we make in our lives. Each episode ends on an interactive note, where the subscriber, who takes on the role of Grace’s confidante, is able to help Grace make a decision in her situation.

Tendani Matshisevhe, head of Marketing and Communications at Sanlam Developing Markets Limited, believes the script will be relatable for many South Africans, “In South Africa, giving loved ones an honourable funeral has great cultural significance and can be extremely expensive, often putting financial strain on certain individuals in a family or whole families. This series not only explores the importance of being adequately prepared for the often unexpected loss of a loved one but looks to educate the public on how the decisions we make today can shape the future we wish to have and leave for our loved ones.”

Sanlam celebrates 100 years with Born Today film

On Friday, 8 June 2018, Sanlam celebrated its 100th birthday! To commemorate 100 years of securing financial futures for generations to come – and to remind us all of our responsibility to build a better world for each new life to inherit – the King James Group shot Born Today. Filmed, finished and flighted on 8 June, in the space of just 12 hours.

The film features the first moments of some of the precious new lives born on 8 June 2018. To capture this, the King James Group was at hospitals around the country to record the first baby to be born on 8 June – Baby Hlophe at Addington Hospital – at 12:25am and some of the little ones that followed.

Cameron Watson, creative director at the King James Group said Born Today is a reminder of what we owe to the next generation, “Besides the technicalities that stood as large production hurdles to this project, the purity of this film’s focus is what makes it compelling. The children born on 8 June 2018 will be the sports heroes, scientists, teachers, politicians, artists, literary geniuses, humanitarians, and eventually, mothers and fathers of the generations to come. Each new child is a new responsibility for those of us that are here already. To be able to show that in such a visible, tangible and immediate way creates a connection that is far more real than any fully polished and perfected piece of communication.”

On average, 2 500 babies are born in South Africa daily. Mariska Oosthuizen, Sanlam Group head of Brand, says it’s exciting to think what this means, “Think of the potential every child holds for South Africa. Each of those children has the power to change our country – and the world. By investing in them today, we can give them the best possible chance at a prosperous tomorrow. All the decisions we make – good and bad – have ramifications for generations to come. That’s what Born Today highlights: the precious potential of every child and our role to nurture this.”

Watson says that shooting, producing and airing a film in the space of a day was a labour of love. The scope of the project was immense. There was zero margin for error and no luxury of second takes. It was real life happening in real-time.

Tanaka, the young girl used in Sanlam’s previous Built to Last campaign, also features in this one. Watson says the team wanted the continuity of having her in both. “She has a powerful presence and represents the voice of the next generation. There’s something very strong about having a child welcome new babies to the world. There’s a lot of hope and optimism in that moment.”

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