Public Relations

VW partners with black ballerina and female combat pilot to launch campaign about shattering stereotypes

As Volkswagen South Africa launches its new all-new Volkswagen, the vehicle brand has also announced the #TheDrivetoDefy campaign
which sees the South Africa’s first black female combat pilot, Major Mandisa Mfeka, and the first black ballerina to dance The Dying Swan in Russia, Kitty Phetla sharing their inspiring stories in an effort to dismantle stereotypes and defy expectations.

Mfeka made history when she became the first black female combat pilot in South Africa, while Phetla transcended cultural barriers when she became the first black ballerina to dance The Dying Swan in Russia at a time when ballet was still very conservative. The two films will be part of the new VW T-Roc #TheDrivetoDefy campaign. The films were launched on October 22 in partnership with brand and communications agency Ogilvy Cape Town and produced and directed by Fausto Becatti of Bioscope Films.

Volkswagen’s T-Roc #TheDrivetoDefy campaign tells the story of a girl curious about planes and her defiant journey to becoming South Africa’s first black female fighter pilot. “We used to claim that the sky’s the limit, but by being in the sky we are already defining what the limit is and limiting how far we can go. I live by the quote that the sky is the baseline. This film resonates with me so much because I got to witness how I chose to ignore the naysayers and go after my goals,” said Mfeka.

VWSA Head of Marketing, Meredith Kelly, said “the films are inspired by the many heroes and heroines who didn’t have a roadmap cleared out for them; people who were told to “know their place” and yet “continue to defy and smash glass ceilings and challenge stereotypes against tremendous odds. The new T-Roc is not what people expect from Volkswagen, which is why it made sense to partner with heroines like Major Mandisa Mfeka and Kitty Phetla, because their stories are all about achieving the unexpected.

Phetla said: “You have to constantly be in competition with yourself, you have to be a step ahead of yourself to visualise your goals, take them in, accelerate, execute, and own it. ‘Who do you think you are’, you ask… the master of my craft, is who I am.”

The films were briefed and produced during the lockdown in Johannesburg, Alexandra, Pretoria and Middleburg Airfield, with a core team attending and directing shoots remotely. Four additional films show four more protagonists who embody #TheDrivetoDefy attitude. These were directed by Kyla Philander and the subjects are:

Rasta Mpholo, who worked as a security guard and has defied the odds to become an assistant director of Cinematography;
Kyla Philander, who battled depression and anxiety to become a revered film director;
Jodi Windvogel, who challenges stereotypes through photography by giving new perspectives on women like herself and her community; and Kuda Vazhure, who left Zimbabwe to find his place in the world and now pushes the limits as a stunt and precision driver.

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