Featuring one of Africa's most unattractive and misunderstood creatures - a vulture, the ad nevertheless conveys such a sense of passion, commitment and quiet strength that the viewer's possible negative associations with the bird are turned on its head.
The ad was conceptualised by Grey South Africa's team of Copywriter Annette de Klerk and Art Director Kyra Antrobus, and overseen by Executive Creative Director Cath Ireland and Creative Director Jayson Dicks. Directed by Frieze Film's Tony Baggott, its storyline is simple: a man teaches a rehabilitated vulture to fly again.
"With this commercial, we specifically wanted to evoke strong emotions in the viewer and bring across the concept of 'Anything worth doing takes time'," explained Dicks.
"To achieve both objectives, we briefed Tony to show the extraordinary lengths to which conservation officials go to deal with the sometimes weird and wonderful tasks that come their way, and to do so in a way that would demonstrate how much patience they need to do what they do.
"Tony's execution was spot-on: not only did he manage to capture the amusing and tender moments between a man and his unusual charge that fuel the viewer's emotional response, his choice of action shots and the manner in which he shot them convey that the task progressed at a painfully slow rate.
"The production values and organisational skills of everybody involved were excellent. With the unpredictable nature of the script, there were some uncontrollable elements but Tony came up with viable solutions that worked just as well.
"On set, mostly a vulture sanctuary in the Magaliesburg area, everyone was extremely professional and capable, and we were able to complete everything on schedule. In the edit suite, Tony had the task - one he relishes, he says - of sifting through hours of great footage and selecting the parts that told the story and conveyed emotion the best. The synergy between Grey and Frieze was extremely positive, and we believe we delivered a great ad that came really close to our original vision."
"This was a challenging yet very rewarding brief," added Baggott. "Not only was the vulture largely untrained, we had a tight deadline to meet on an outside set; poor weather or the bird's refusal to respond to the trainer could have derailed us at anytime.
"However, the sun did shine and thanks to detailed planning ahead of time and a professional and calm crew on set, the process went smoothly. We're really proud of this commercial and are certain it readily conveys Mazda's appreciation for the work that conservation officials do, as well as the company's support for conservation projects."
A 40-second version of the ad is currently flighting on major television stations while a 50-second version is screening in cinemas nationwide.