VW “Cheetah” by Ogilvy

This is the latest work done by Ogilvy Cape Town for the new VW Golf. Great advertising often relies on great storytelling, this ad does that and leaves you with the warm fuzzy feeling that South African’s have come to associate with the VW brand. Click through for the press release.

Art directors: Prabashan Pather and Michael Lees-Rolfe
Copywriter: Sanjiv Mistry.
Golf launch ads are always big news for both Volkswagen and their agency of 30 years, Ogilvy Cape Town. The challenge is to live up to the excellence of the past executions for Golf – the “Rally” campaign, the GTI “Drum” ad and most recently the “Dreams” execution.

Golf is, and always has been, a driver’s car. Golf briefs have at their heart the task to communicate the thrilling experience of driving the ultimate driver’s car – and the ad has to do it in a fresh and exciting way. The latest ad does that in heaps, in a way that is typically, beautifully Volkswagen.

“Two things happened – first we wrote an incredible local human story, then, through a Cape Town based production company, Gatehouse, found a director who specialises in documentary, reality-style commercials,” says Ogilvy Cape Town Executive Creative Director, Chris Gotz.

That director was Henry-Alex Rubin, an Oscar-nominated documentary director now directing commercials.

“A Golf commercial has to capture the exhilarating feeling of driving. We wrote a story about an injured cheetah that relives and experiences the thrill of speed by driving in a Golf.”

“When we were looking at directors, Henry Rubin came into the mix at the last minute because another director pulled out. Before he even spoke to us and pitched, he flew up to Namibia, which has the world’s largest wild cheetah population. He wanted to find a real story. And he found it. He hooked up with a woman called Marlice van Vuuren who rehabilitates wild animals, including cheetahs at her game farm near Windhoek. She drove a three-legged cheetah that she was rehabilitating around in her bakkie. Henry suggested we do it for real. And that’s how it all came about. Instead of truth meeting fiction, this was fiction meeting truth,” says Gotz.

At heart, Rubin is a film and documentary maker. He works for international film, TV, commercial and music video production company Smuggler.

Marlice van Vuuren runs a wildlife sanctuary called N/a’ankuse, largely committed to relocating problem animals as an alternative to farmers shooting them. In cases of injured animals, she rehabilitates them and gives them a life on her farm. The female cheetah in question had lost her hind leg in a farmer’s gin trap. Since she would never return to the wild, Marlice committed herself to rehabilitating her as best she could.

“Her tenderness and care for the animals was inspiring to watch and she opened her arms to this project. Marlice uses many unconventional ideas to strengthen the cheetah’s remaining hind leg: throwing food, running with her dogs, playing with tennis balls and feather dusters, even using her son’s remote control car. Marlice named the cheetah Lucky because she was lucky to be alive. In a sense, we were lucky too, as I never expected to land upon such a beautiful true story that lined up with an agency’s dreamed-up idea,” says Rubin.

“Ogilvy Cape Town wrote a rare and inspired script. Its message of kindness and resilience resonates. It’s one of those, few-in-a-lifetime ideas that will grow wings and fly around the world. I truly wanted to help give it wings”, adds Rubin.

Ogilvy Cape Town Managing Director, Gavin Levinsohn says about Rubin; “He had this raw authenticity and he also presented the best treatment. It’s as simple as that. I also think it’s great that we got access to him. South African agencies are world-class; it’s now time we draw on the world.”

“Henry has captured a story that is pure Volkswagen. The incredible and moving bond that Marlice has with her animals will live through this commercial. We are so privileged to have been part of that,” concludes Gotz.

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