Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

To mark its 100th anniversary, Sanlam’s latest advertising campaign looks ahead at the opportunities and challenges the human race will face as people live longer. It takes the form of a through-the-line campaign featuring a four-part podcast series titled The 200 Year Old.

Dan Pinch, executive creative director at the King James Group, says: “We thought it would be a great idea to dramatise the impact of this, and toyed with a documentary format, but eventually decided that creating a future world on film would be too costly.”

Podcasting, on the other hand, offered a medium that would allow the brand’s story to come to life and enable the audience to fill in the visual gaps with their imaginations. “SA has proven its excellence in radio advertising time and again, and podcasting provides us with the opportunity to make our mark here too,” says Pinch.

The 200 Year Old series is described by Pinch as “a movie you can listen to”. It presents the story of the first person to live for 200 years (who some scientists believe has already been born) painting a picture of this new world and all its possibilities.

The series – which involved some of the country’s top acting and production talent and a 70-page script, and took over three weeks to record – is a brave move for Sanlam. Pinch says it is the most ambitious work he has been engaged in for the financial services group.

“Podcasting is not something in which brands in SA have invested very much – especially on this scale,” he says adding that in 2009, the King James Group produced a podcast for Kulula that was more experimental, and perhaps ahead of its time.

The complexity of The 200 Year Old podcast is a new approach globally. It uses a script and actors, as opposed to being in the usual “talk show” format. Yet podcasting is gaining traction around the world. Marvel, for instance, has recently launched a Wolverine podcast, which shows that this medium is heading for the mainstream.

The big take-out

The 200 Year Old, a four-part podcasting series produced for Sanlam by the King James Group, illustrates the benefits of podcasting for marketers and their brands.

“The trend of streaming is growing, as more and more South Africans have infrastructure and access to Wi-Fi, at work, at home or in areas where it is provided free of charge. This also means there is a growing audience we can target with podcasts, which have the potential to reach millions of people,” says Pinch.

To ensure maximum reach the podcast has been made into short sections that are available on Twitter and Facebook.

The podcast had to highlight the biggest issue that would affect finance in the future, says Pinch. “People are starting to live longer but they’re not saving enough for this, and the topic provided the financial and economic impact we were looking for, as well as the ability to be linked with other challenges the future may bring.”

Podcasts, says Pinch, can be a hugely beneficial platform for brands. “With content that captures the imagination of the audience sufficiently to subscribe, you have people’s attention for 20 minutes or more, as opposed to the 30 seconds of a traditional radio spot. Another advantage is that not many other brands are competing in your space.” However, he cautions that the challenge is to ensure that the content is compelling and adds value.  

Of course, in today’s market, any campaign must be measurable. Pinch explains that the reach of the full campaign across all platforms will be measured, but that key to the success of the podcast series will be the minutes of content that is consumed.

Sanlam is the first local brand to have invested in a podcast on this scale, and to some extent, the podcast campaign is experimental. “We have the support and safety net of TV, public relations and social content engagement to communicate the same sentiment. These are early days, yet in the opening week the series debuted at number one on iTunes, which is a great indication. Now we need to keep the momentum going,” he says.

To listen to The 200 Year Old podcast, subscribe on iTunes.