Working at Flow Communications is anything but predictable – no two days (or even three, four, five) are the same. One day you may be writing a pitch for a client, or working out a costing; the next, you’re dressed as a film character and “invading” a radio station.
We asked our Flowstars to tell us about some of the memorable – and even strange – tasks they’ve had to do, all in the name of work.
Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments!
Christelle de Beer, traffic and production manager
Brass bell (no, not that one)
I was once asked by a client to find a big brass bell, like the ones on church towers and large monuments. It needed to be heard within a 2km radius, and needed to be installed in two days!
Who you gonna call?
Then there was the time we were helping a client promote the new Ghostbusters movie, and Flow account director Chuma Siswana came up with the idea for four ladies, dressed as Ghostbusters, to invade radio stations as part of a PR stunt.
Over a weekend I had to find Ghostbusters overalls, and made proton packs (the device used to catch ghosts in the film, and worn on the back like a backpack) using cake lid covers from a cake shop: I spray-painted the lids black, bought wiring, and popped hazard stickers on the packs. I also got boots and put reflective tape on them, and the ladies wore normal safety glasses.
We found a replica Ghostbusters vehicle/hearse – the Ectomobile – in Benoni. I then had to get clearance from the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department to drive the Ectomobile through Sandton. The officials were crying with laughter and thought it was a great idea when we explained what we were going to be doing.
Ella Marren, project manager
On track for Gibela
Our client Gibela had completed production of a train set for delivery to its client, and asked us to supply it with a huge decorative bow – the same kind used on newly bought cars. The bow was fitted to the front of the train and was a huge success!
Caroline Smith, head of public relations
In the line of duty
I’ve done a number of odd things in the line of duty. There was the time I sourced 1 000 clay hand grenades filled with chilli seeds as part of a Nando’s initiative.
And then there was the time I had to write a holding statement about how, although marijuana had been legalised, you still couldn’t buy a joint from this joint.
I was also approached by a client who had been wrongly identified as a sex pest in a video that was being widely circulated on social media and had to help them clear their name.
Allison MacDonald, account director
Ma’s home cooking
Once, in a previous life and in a different agency, I had to travel to Mumbai, India, for a launch event. My client, the CEO of the entity I was consulting to, had flown in ahead of me. On the day of my departure for Mumbai she called me and instructed me to bring with me a case of Lagavulin whisky – she was unable to find her favourite tipple in the five-star hotel she was accommodated in. We were there for five days and not a single bottle of Lagavulin came home. This is a true story.
Also, working with the same client, but this time in Tokyo, I was sent into the kitchen one night to make pumpkin fritters and custard for a dinner party. The guests were all South Africans and they missed ma’s home cooking. This is also a true story.
Richard Frank, head of digital
(Image: Flow Flickr)
In 2018 the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) asked Flow to cover a football match between Barcelona and Mamelodi Sundowns, which was part of the Nelson Mandela centenary celebrations.
The Flow journalists who would normally cover NMF events were busy on other work, so I co-opted colleague Roy Barford (who is a former sports journalist) and we set off to the FNB Stadium.
It’s amazing what a press pass can give you access to! I soon found myself rubbing shoulders with Lionel Messi in the players’ tunnel and taking photos, pitch side.
I then got a call from the Foundation asking me to do some interviews in the presidential suite with NMF CEO Sello Hatang and Tokyo Sexwale. The suite seemed a good place to watch the rest of the game and complete my story. While up there I bumped into the then DA leader Mmusi Maimane, who generously gave me a quote for the story.
At the end of the game I went back onto the field to take photos of the post-match proceedings and managed to shake hands with Messi. I filed the story and got home in time to brag to the household teenagers about my day at the office, which typically involves writing a few hundred lines of code rather than watching football!
Ros Caboz, project manager
At the top of my list is the safety campaign we developed, produced and installed for Sasol Mining – the underground-hazards photo shoot to document specific mining hazards was certainly memorable. Miners face a number of hazards, including rockfalls, flammable gas build-ups, explosions and potentially hazardous equipment, and accidents at this level can be very serious or lethal.
The photographs were to show the correct safe behaviour in each particular situation. We had originally been told by the Department of Mineral Resources that no photography could happen underground due to concerns about the static from photographic equipment causing underground explosions or fires, and therefore a lack of oxygen. However, we managed to get special clearance if we stayed in “secondary” areas.
We had to attend several safety training courses, kit ourselves out in full mining safety gear, and move about half a bakkie load of photographic equipment underground to the shoot area. Heavyweight mining equipment had been moved into place for us and a number of miners volunteered to be our very real models.
It was really interesting to experience first-hand what miners deal with on a daily basis, and was a real eye-opener.