StarSat takes Africa’s pay television to new heights

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As she looks down at the town she has lived in all her life, from hundreds of meters above, a solitary tear runs down the cheek of an elderly, bespectacled woman as she is comforted by a relative.

And as the group of giant hot air balloons soar majestically through the clouds, the camera zooms onto the faces of the occupants in the different baskets. Some show exhilaration, others apprehension. And others, like that of the old woman, who have never left the ground around the town their entire lives, are pure emotion.

As the townspeople hover above the tiny Free State town of Clarens, and the sun’s rays catch the spectacular backdrop of the Maluti Mountains, the warm glowing colours of the Star Sat balloon hover into frame, and the words appear: ‘Change your view’.

This is the tagline of the relaunch of TopTV into the South African pay television market, as StarSat, operated by On Digital Media (ODM). Promising its subscribers a new viewing experience with new content, new pricing structures and new packages, StarSat wants to be more than just a pay television operator.

The company wants to get South Africans, who for decades have had limited choice of viewing owing to the cost of pay television to change their view, to StarSat.

The genesis of the balloon ad was a collaborative brainstorming session between new pay television platform StarSat and ad agency Shift Joe Public, which was announced in a new TV, print, radio, online and OOH campaign that rolled out at the end of November.

“The imagery is meant to convey warmth, reliability and stability, but at the same time illustrate the opportunities provided to South Africans through a new viewing experience,” says Shift Joe Public Non-Executive Director Fiona Hitchcock.

“This campaign is steeped in a strategy that says people don’t want to be dictated to by brands, they want choice,” says Hitchcock, adding that the concept of taking hot air balloons to a small town like Clarens was also to take the campaign into communities.

“Because ultimately, StarSat wants to be known as the people’s champion; not just to go into communities but to actively engage with them, make emotional connections with them, and get them to change their view,” says Hitchcock.

The town of Clarens was chosen, says Hitchcock, for the uniquely South African landscape, and for the demographic mix of the town, which is home to a community of different cultures and languages.

The creative team behind the ad did not have to stage-manage the emotion on people’s faces: most had never seen a hot air balloon, and were going up in one for the very first time. This is a metaphor for the experiences StarSat hopes to create among viewers who access pay television for the first time through their programming.

“Our aim was to set the tone for the brand, and for people to not just make an emotional connection with the ad and watch it again, but also for them to gain an understanding of what StarSat stands for.”

Shift Joe Public

Executive Creative Directors: Maciek Michalski and Xolisa Dyeshana
Art Director: Freda Raubenheimer
Copywriter: Jeanine Vermaak
Art Director: Christo Kruger
Producer: Helen Hotman
Account Management: Fiona Hitchcock
Production House: Egg Films
Director: Slim Grippa
Producer: Nicci Cox

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