Even as South Africa settles into Level 1 lockdown, life without social distancing and curbed personal liberties is difficult to imagine, and we can’t help but worry about what lies around the next corner. 10X’s new series of television ads turns the frowns upside down and shows us a way to take back our own futures (and 10X them).
The series of three commercials echoes scenarios from the 80s movie trilogy Back to the Future, with Rabinowitz’s ‘future self’ travelling back in time to deliver a few hard truths – and some softer ones – to his ‘present day self’. A carefully made-up future Nik gives the Nik we know (and the rest of us, as viewers) hope for the future. There is a catch though: you need to be investing smartly in order to have a future worth looking forward to.
10X's Chief Growth Officer, Declan Hollywood, says the company partnered with Rabinowitz and Ari Kruger and his film production company, Sketchbook Studios, to conceptualise the commercials.
Rabinowitz previously co-wrote and starred in 10X’s well-received 2018 campaign, Stop Daylight Robbery. As Hollywood explains, the 10X Your Future campaign blossomed from memories of their earlier collaboration.
"I was looking through emails when I stumbled across a message from Nik. He was broadcasting some live standup comedy from his home during the lockdown, and that triggered the idea for me,” says Hollywood.
“The initial idea was around the lockdown and how we could link this experience to not having enough money saved for retirement and, of course, we wanted to work with Nik again."
He adds: “The Stop Daylight Robbery campaigns with Nik were very successful: five viral videos with more than a million views each.”
Hollywood believes that helping South Africans capitalise on the "lockdown mindset", where many people were using the time to re-examine their priorities and values, seemed like a great opportunity.
"People's ability or aspirations to live well have been significantly curtailed," Hollywood continues. "One day they are living the quality of life they are used to. Then out of the blue they have severe limitations on what they can do, where they can go and what they can spend their money on,” he says.
“This is very much the reality for people whose retirement payout falls short of their expectations, a future that no one would want to look forward to.”
After connecting with 10X, Kruger introduced the “Back to the Future” concept and quickly won Rabinowitz’s buy-in.
“It struck me that seeing a happier, more financially secure version of yourself from the future would be a thought-provoking and fun idea. 10X quickly saw the merit, and how it aligned with the messaging they wanted to convey, while Nik liked the idea of seeing two versions of himself,” said Kruger.
“From there, we wrote the scripts with Nik’s style of comedy in mind. While we wanted the ads to be funny and bring about some inspirational, light relief, we didn’t want them to be silly or lack credibility in any way, so we researched the prosthetics and make-up artistry for Nik’s future self in order to make each scene as authentic as possible.”
Kruger wanted to stay true to 10X's disrupter brand status and to stay well clear of more traditional styles of retirement investment advertising.
"10X gave Sketchbook a lot of creative freedom during the process, which is quite unusual in the commercial film-making space. So, I approached the concept and shot from the consumer's point of view of: 'What would I like to see?', rather than imposing morals and metaphors on an audience that is already tired of being told what they can and can't do in their everyday lives,” he said.
“The comedy element helps us to poke a little fun at our shared situation while reminding us that the future isn't all doom and gloom. Rather, our collective futures could be quite bright if we make careful decisions now."
Since the commercials aired on TV and through social media, 10X has seen a 50% increase in digital leads. The first two videos each received around a million views with cost per view measured at about 10 cents, making the ads extremely cost-effective over time.
Hollywood adds: "The engagement has been very strong and the feedback overwhelmingly positive, particularly the hoverboard video. Its direct reference to Back to the Future resonated strongly with viewers with high sharing and virality figures.”
As consumers in South Africa continue to rethink their values and what’s important to them right now, 10X and Nik Rabinowitz from the future raise many laughs and give viewers a peek at a future they can take charge of.
Watch the 3 episodes below: