Mobile operator Virgin Mobile South Africa is running a series of four humorous television commercials to promote its prepaid airtime offering. The colourful ads mark the first time in three years that Virgin Mobile SA has launched a television campaign.
Each of the four 30 second TV commercials depicts a scene where one of the characters reaches a pivotal moment in time; i.e. when something significant is about to happen. For example, one of the ads features a wrestler about to ‘finish off’ his opponent. Another shows soldiers engaged in an intense gunfight, with one brave fighter poised to throw a hand grenade. However, before these actions can be carried out, the characters suddenly run out of steam, and we see that they are in actual fact ‘wind-up’ toys that need to be re-charged/re-wound. The commercials all end with the tagline: “We know what running out of airtime feels like.”
Black River creative director, Ahmed Tilly explains the creative rationale behind the campaign. “When you’re on prepaid, you never know when you’ll run out of airtime. It’s like being a wind-up toy that could run out of power at any time. You don’t know when you’ll run out and it usually happens at the most inopportune moments.”
One of the commercials has some interesting real-life trivia behind it. In the war scene, all the weapons used are authentic World War II weapons, and one of the lead soldiers acted in the runaway local success District 9. The scene was filmed in the middle of Johannesburg but is unrecognisable as it looks like a war-torn city on the other side of the world.
The commercials were directed by Peter Pohorsky from Plank Films and produced by Gareth Hansen. Flighting commenced on Sunday 7th August and the campaign is being aired on SABC, M-Net and etv.
While it remains to be seen how the quirky campaign affects sales of Virgin Mobile SA’s prepaid airtime, the commercials will certainly bring chuckles to South African households.