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.






  1. Best bit of watching this ad for the 1st time: I was watching tv with my dad and he went: ‘this will make such a good car ad’. And then the VW logo/payoff popped up…

  2. Haha that is brilliant! It’s an interesting move by VW to go back from the exciting, thrilling (and very male) tone that characterized the previous Golf commercials.

  3. I dunno about the payoff. Its a bloody heart warming advert – and if I was in a fragile state, might even shed a tear, but a cheetah is about speed and performance, which is more GTI. Its weird, heart warming story = family brand car – Cheetah = speed and performance. My god does it provoke emotion though, which is what Ogilvy does do very well . . . even the best in the TV area.

    But big ups to Mike and Prabashan thats the best TVC I have seen out of the big red in ages – Well done guys

  4. Mariana de Villiers

    What a stunning ad. It had me in tears. When will we see it again?

  5. The only thing is what’s the chance you’ll allow any pets (including cheetahs) on the backseat of a brand-new car. More like a bakkie, maybe..

  6. Imagine a Golf 6 Bakkie… They did it with a Jeep and a Land Rover… so why not a Golf!

  7. Absolutely stunning advert, was desperate to find out the location of the shoot. Hope you’ve got lots of viewing slots booked, i want to see it over and over 🙂 great job ogilvy and Vw

  8. Ok, the story is beautiful and all but it is not Golf! Golf is a hardcore and edgy brand with the essence of performance and pushing the boundaries. This ad is a terrible attempt to link animal welfare and ‘doing-good’ to the VW brand. Stick to what Golf is! It is a transparent ploy that has weakened a beautiful car.

  9. Beryl-Ann du Plessis

    What an ad! Now for the branding (funds to save the cheetah): Picture of Lucky with caption: Lucky to be alive OR
    Just because she can’t run (then picture of three legged Lucky) and below: ….doesn’t mean she isn’t a cheetah…..

  10. Riette McKenzie

    WOW WOW WOW love the ad, love the Cheetah she is gorgeous.

    Thanks to her owner for saving her.

    It is a pitty to think that the cruelty of humans cost precious animals their lives, or limbs. It is a shame to think that some humans dont care for animals at all, no matter how big or small.

    Thanks to those who do care. God bless

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