Nelson Mandela Bay-headquartered Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) has shifted gears while rewriting the marketing manuals to introduce its much-awaited new T-Roc.
To do this, the Uitenhage-based manufacturer has partnered with South Africa’s first black female combat pilot, Major Mandisa Mfeka, and the first black ballerina to dance in The Dying Swan in Russia, Kitty Phetla.
VWSA: ‘Defying expectations, dismantling stereotypes’
Volkswagen, in conjunction with Mfeka and Phetla, will launch short films which will tell their stories of defiance, with the campaign as a whole being centred on the themes of “defying expectations and dismantling stereotypes”.
Major Mfeka made history when she became the first black female combat pilot in South Africa. Her story inspired many women — not only in South Africa, but around the world where gender equality is still a struggle.
Kitty Phetla transcended cultural barriers in becoming the first black ballerina to dance The Dying Swan in Russia, at a time when ballet was conservative, and transformed the industry.
VW T-Roc #TheDrivetoDefy campaign
According to Volkswagen, in ushering its all-new vehicle offering, the automaker has recognised these important milestones and will launch the short films to tell their stories of defiance online, with the stories to form part of the new VW T-Roc #TheDrivetoDefy campaign.
“Like many industries, the film and communications industry was hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic presented new challenges for the production team,” explained VWSA.
“In line with #TheDrivetoDefy concept, the films were briefed and produced during the lockdown in Johannesburg, Alexandra, Pretoria and Middleburg Airfield with the core team attending and directing shoots remotely.”
A girl curious about planes…
“Volkswagen’s T-Roc #TheDrivetoDefy campaign, which was launched on Thursday 22 October 2020, tells the story of a girl curious about planes and her defiant journey to becoming South Africa’s first black female fighter pilot. People can visit the campaign’s online platform here to watch Major Mfeka’s story,” continued the German automaker.
“Major Mandisa Mfeka, who also made history by being the first woman to form part of the Hawks formation display during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inauguration in 2019, is happy to come on board and partner with the country’s leading passenger car maker to tell her inspirational story,” explained VWSA.
In Major Mfeka’s words…
“We used to claim that ‘the sky’s the limit’…but by being in the sky, we are already defining what the limit is and limiting how far we can go.
“I live by the quote that ‘The sky is the baseline’.
“This film resonates with me so much because I got to witness how I chose to ignore the naysayers and chose to go after my goals. Every person that was part of making these films has defied someone and anyone that has ever said no to them,” said Mfeka.
In Volkswagen’s words…
“The film is inspired by the many heroes and heroines who didn’t have a roadmap cleared out for them. The people who were told to ‘know their place’ and yet continue to defy and smash glass ceilings and challenge stereotypes against tremendous odds,” said Meredith Kelly who heads marketing at Volkswagen SA.
“The new T-Roc is not what people expect from Volkswagen, which is why it made sense to partner with heroines like Major Mandisa Mfeka and Kitty Phetla because their stories are all about achieving the unexpected.
“The films delve deep into their journeys, covering their defining moments. Becoming the first black female combat fighter pilot was not easy. Becoming the first black ballerina to dance ‘The Dying Swan’ in a time when ballet was conservative was unheard of,” added Kelly.
Inspiration from Phetla
“In my personal experience, life has always been self-explanatory. You are on your own in this competitive, challenging world. It is how you make sense of it all and connect the pieces of the puzzle.
“You have to constantly be in competition with yourself, you have to be a step ahead of yourself to visualise your goals, take them in, accelerate, execute, and own it. ‘Who do you think you are’, you ask… the master of my craft is who I am,” said Phetla.
How it came about
The films are launched in partnership with brand and communications agency Ogilvy Cape Town and produced and directed by Fausto Becatti of Bioscope Films.
True to its core meaning, four additional films are included which were shot in partnership with four protagonists who, like Mandisa and Kitty, embody #TheDrivetoDefy attitude.
The additional films were directed by Kyla Philander. The platform will house these stories of defiant individuals who were once told to know their place but chose to stand out and disrupt norms and industries.
Throwing net wider with additional short films
The additional films include Rasta Mpholo – who disrupted the status quo by not having a conventional career path. He worked as a security guard and has defied the odds to become an assistant director of cinematography.
The Kyla Philander story brings to life her continual struggle with depression and how, every day, she tries to put words to something so hard to understand. It depicts her battle against depression, anxiety and imposter syndrome in becoming a revered film director.
Jodi Windvogel‘s contribution challenges stereotypes through photography by giving new perspectives on women like herself and her community.
Kuda Vazhure‘s film is equally inspiring. Having left Zimbabwe to find his place in the world and make a name for himself, Vazhure now pushes the limits as a stunt and precision driver.
“These online films are a source of motivation. We believe it will drive people to discover new possibilities,” concluded Kelly, adding that with inspiration such as these, Volkswagen hopes to encourage people to defy their odds.
The Volkswagen T-Roc
The Volkswagen T-Roc is a sub compact crossover SUV which is positioned below the Tiguan and above the slightly smaller T-Cross. The T-Roc made its worldwide debut in late August 2017 as Volkswagen’s fourth SUV in the European market. It is the first Volkswagen SUV to sit in the B-SUV segment.