The Economist is ending an absence of more than four years from
British TV with a commercial telling the true story of how the South
African government was tricked into supplying the publication to Nelson
Mandela and his fellow prisoners on Robben Island.
When officials eventually realised The Economist was a provocative news
magazine and not a dry tome about economic theory, they banned it from
Now Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO has adopted the story - told by Mandela in
his autobiography Long Walk To Freedom - to show would-be readers that
The Economist is not an academic journal.
The 60-second film breaks during next Wednesday's screening of ER on
Channel 4, and is the first time the magazine has been promoted on TV in
the UK since a commercial featuring Henry Kissinger, the former US
Secretary of State, appeared in September 1996.
The new ad features a voiceover by Mac Maharaj, who spent 12 years in
prison with Mandela and later became one of his ministers.
The TV initiative, a precursor to an upcoming redesign of the magazine,
is the work of senior AMV creative, Tom Carty, who also wrote, art
directed and directed the film through Gorgeous Films.
Shot in and around Cape Town, it juxtaposes the narrative with surreal
images of deprivation and isolation. Media buying is through New
David Hanger, the publisher of The Economist, said: 'The film embodies
the core values of the magazine but communicates them in a fresh way,
thereby appealing to a new group of readers.'