Africa Day is a big deal for all who live on this continent, and to most who think of themselves as part of the diaspora, but who live elsewhere in the world.
It’s a chance for many, but for our leaders especially, to send a clear message about African unity, Africans rising to their individual and collective challenges and overcoming them, and Africans celebrating the diverse, intriguing, beautiful continent we call home.
However, sending a clear message – and one to the world, at that – is often more simply said than done. But it’s what Flow was called on to do when the agency was appointed by the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) to compile a one-hour programme to mark Africa Day 2020.
The production would be flighted on all South Africa’s major television channels; on many channels across Africa; and on numerous digital platforms. It fell on the shoulders of Christelle de Beer in Flow’s production team and Nicole Ellis in the design team to pull it all together, and to deliver the 50-minute production in record time – we had just four days in which to pull off the apparently impossible. “And two of those days were a Saturday and a Sunday, and this was in the context of level 4 Covid-19 lockdown,” says Christelle.
“There’s only one way to win in a situation like this: you’ve got to build a team at double speed. And this job – insurmountable as it seemed, and truly exhausting as it was – was successful because we broke boundaries, ignored the clock and worked like a team of demons to put our very best voice forward for South Africa, and for Africa.”
When there’s kilopascals of pressure on a team whose members are strangers to each other, tempers sometimes flare, tantrums can be thrown and towels come close to being tossed in. It’s all part of dealing with the demands and building a team. But quiet determination soon takes over, the team gels and the work gets done – and in this case it got done brilliantly.
The magic ingredient in this project – which has President Cyril Ramaphosa calling for the guns across Africa to be silenced – was a deeply trusting relationship that quickly developed between team Flow and Dirco, and especially with Dirco Deputy Director General Clayton Monyela.
Says Christelle: “He took charge, guided us and made the big, scary decisions. It was not always easy, but we pulled it off. The Flow team was hard at work at 1am on Monday morning to finish the production, with Clayton giving full support and encouragement. When I got ready for bed at 3am on Monday, I realised I was wearing the same dress I had put on on Saturday morning!
“It was astonishing to see the spirit of can-do and will-do that everybody brought to this project. It reminded us all, afresh, of the amazing things a team can and will achieve when dedicated, skilful people put their minds to a task and refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer. It reminded us again of the value of a spirit of real partnership between agency and client.”
The result was a powerful, impactful message to the world. “It’s something we are enormously proud of. And it’s something we are humbled by, too: a message of solidarity, of peace, of hope and of celebration of the most amazing place on earth,” Christelle says.
See the final result here, and be inspired: