When Ayoba’s Head of Marketing, Oliver Prentout, first called MullenLowe South Africa and asked if we would be up for a challenge, we said yes. But we were nervous. The ask? One film for 15 markets, four languages, very tight timings and many stakeholders. All this during Covid with all its restrictions.

‘We bit off more than we could chew, but we just kept chewing,’ says Kirk Gainsford, chief creative officer of MullenLowe SA.

MullenLowe SA has a great deal of experience working in Africa, says Gainsford. The agency manages campaigns for clients in most of sub Saharan Africa and creates work for over 18 different markets. There isn’t a separate division that does that, it’s the agency as a whole. ‘I was quietly confident. But it was a big ask,’ he says.

The agency had to approach the job differently. Covid and timing dictated that they break the rules of client, agency and production engagement. They partnered with 7Films and brought them in right at the beginning, and they roped in client early on and had him as part of the team. ‘There was no client, agency, production team dynamic. We all just got stuck in,’ says Gainsford.

Lourens van Rensburg commented ‘It never feels like work when you’re having so much fun; hopefully this translates and the audience will have the same fun experience’’ 

In addition to the challenges of travel during a global pandemic, there was the creative challenge of making a film for x markets, and achieving representation of the whole of the continent. ‘The big question was: how do we make it feel interesting and cool, and appeal to a young market?’ says Gainsford.

Creatively the agency also made their lives more complicated, because they wanted to demonstrate life inside Ayoba as seamlessly as possible. They needed to find a way to show everything possible in the app without any cuts. In the end the whole 45-second commercial has just five cuts. ‘The only way to achieve this was to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. And we tore down the silos, having our clients by our side every step of the way. 

Thankfully, Oliver Prentout has run his own advertising agency and Sharief Kamish, Senior Multimedia Designer at Ayoba, has been a creative himself, so they understood the dynamic and simply became an extension of our team, it was much less complicated to handle than I expected, says Kim van der Linden the Business Unit Director at MullenLowe SA.

It took exhaustive planning to pull it off. Having cast change character, extras change roles and props all in one shot while the camera was still rolling was a tall order.

Nina from 7Films commented ‘It was so different and I have never worked on this kind of approach before. It was definitely worth the effort as Oliver Prentout did say if we pull it off the next job is in Mauritius…my bags are packed!’

Gainsford says: ‘We realised that it was going to be unbelievable lucky if everything worked on the day. And it did. We only had our first shot of the day after eight hours on set and still we weren’t half way. We just kept chewing, kept the energy up and kept believing.’


“We are delighted to have worked with MullenLowe on the production of our first Pan African ATL campaign namely “life inside ayoba”. We have gone through a 5 months process including concept testing in 4 markets to deliver to 16 MTN operational markets, a full tool kit including a TV commercial localised for each market, an approach to radio, production of OOH visuals, social media, PR and internal communication assets. The main objective of this campaign is to drive awareness around what ayoba is, what ayoba does and what ayoba can do for its users. It is an important milestone in our vision to become the super app made in Africa for the world”