AMV BBDO re-tells Mandela story to promote Economist

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

the prison.

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.'

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