Walk on the wild side

A pro bono campaign by the award-winning Jupiter Drawing Room tells people to take a hike.

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If you think advertising is only about consumer culture and corporate greed, then drop the cynicism (ok, not all of it) and take some time out from that urban, media-saturated lifestyle - preferably by going on one of these pristinely located San Art Trails that are enthused about here.

The advertising campaign you see before you was realised and executed free of charge by the Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town, with the added kudos that it's aimed at getting people back to nature (before all that precious green stuff disappears under a mall parking lot). San Art Trails won the campaign in the Design Indaba Expo's annual Creatathon, a charity drive aimed at bringing needy organisations and creative minds together.

Now in its third year, the Creatathon puts out an annual call for entry to charities and SMMEs, offering them the chance to win a brand makeover by one of South Africa's leading agencies. For 2006, the makeover winners were the Men at the Side of the Road Project, which aids itinerant workers, and the back-to-nature getaways offered by San Art Trails. Both campaigns were executed by the Ripple Effect, a mentorship programme for previously disadvantaged designers steered by Ross Chowles, the Jupiter Drawing Room's creative director. The results were exhibited at the Design Indaba Expo 2006.

With our green issue in mind, the San Art Trails campaign is interesting in that it presents ways in which nature, or a nature-dependent product, can be sold to an audience. Advertisers are going to have to become more and more resourceful in the ways that they depict the environment to avoid the trap of resorting to the obvious and to cliché.

Here, Ross presents the thought processes that went into the print campaign for San Art Trails:

Creative rationale

A growing number of tourists are looking for more then just a rubber-stamped postcard tour of the Western Cape. They want an experience, a story to tell their friends over a drink or at a party. San Art Trails offers just that, with a collage of adventure activities that includes abseiling, night camping, kloofing and hiking to ancient San caves around the Cape.

The client wanted the campaign to tap into the human spirit and his love and appreciation of nature. We felt that tapping into people's desire for escapism was to be the key insight. A reminder that there is more to life then meetings, McDonald's and being cooped up in your office cubicle from 9am-5pm.

Why we choose the direction

The number of adventure trails on the market is huge. Most of the promotional material available shows the obligatory postcard settings and promises the prospective client all the luxury peripherals. San Art Trails is the antithesis of that, and the campaign needed to reflect that.

The execution

The idea behind 5 Million Star Accommodation was to highlight night camping and peace and quiet. The emphasis is on open spaces. The look of the ad had to reflect that; hence there are no screaming headlines. The body copy is a testimonial from a couple working in one of the most demanding industries - hotel and accommodation.

With the second execution, we wanted to have some fun and thought to ourselves: "What if the ad was about someone who actually hated walking the San Art Trail?" Not everybody loves the big outdoors and walking for hours on end to see a cave painting would not be their idea of fun and adventure. Lots of people cannot survive without their cell phones and double-skinny frappé latte. Thus by exaggerating a negative point of view, we hoped to highlight the positives.

The last execution emphasises why San Art Trails are different from other offerings. Here, two-ply paper means putting two leaves on top of each other and grabbing a shovel. A shower is beneath a waterfall, and so on… Nice.

Watch the Talk with Ross Chowles

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