Ian Gabriel creates epic encounter for RMB

Posted: June 10, 2016


In the closely observed category of South African Financial advertising, authenticity and local relevance are important touch points. Witness Stick Communications and GIANT FILMS’ director Ian Gabriel’s new campaign for Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), built around the central theme of collaborative thinking in which rowing is explored as the metaphor for RMB’s Corporate and Investment Banking.

The campaign’s narrative unfolds in three consecutive parts:  preparation, competition and reflections on success, saluting the hard work and dedication of South Africa’s best rowing talent. “We’ve done some myth-busting and dug deep to define what we know makes us different at RMB,” says James Formby, RMB CEO. “Rowing is the ultimate sporting analogy of teamwork and collaboration – practices key to RMB’s business success.” South Africa’s rowing stature and popularity has grown steadily in recent years with major international wins since 2012.


The demanding lead role in the new RMB series blends performance, narration and person-ability.  Director Ian Gabriel approached renowned South African actor Tony Kgoroge (Invictus, Hotel Rwanda, Long Walk to Freedom) to play the lead presenter role.  “We wanted to cast someone whose leadership role in society reflected the values we were exploring in the campaign, so there was no disconnect between the on screen persona and the well known off screen reality surrounding that persona. Tony (Kgoroge) is a well-known Arts Activist and creative Union Head. Tony and I have wanted to work together for years so the opportunity to collaborate on these commercials with a positive message that resonates for all thinking South Africans, was one that neither of us wanted to pass up.” said Gabriel.  This is Tony’s first commercial campaign for South Africa.

The campaign mantra, Thinking. Pulling. Together promotes a process that aptly describes a path to collective strength and progress that South Africa’s future prosperity depends on.

Ian Gabriel worked closely with Roger Barrow, SA Rowing’s Head Coach.  “Our aim was to bring the work and strategy of the rowing squad to the fore, and draw a visceral comparison between the focus and dedication of SA Rowing and the focus and dedication investors experience with RMB.”

The commercials were shot in Gauteng and Lesotho where the South African squad prepare for the international stage.


RMB – Thinking 60″


RMB – Pulling 60″


RMB – Together 60″


Watch the RMB 95” Cinema version here.


Agency: Stick Communications
Executive Creative Director: Darryl Cowling
Senior Copywriter: Peter van der Walt
Agency Producer: Sue Tyler

Production Company: GIANT FILMS, Cape Town
Director: Ian Gabriel
Executive Producers: Emma Lundy & Cindy Gabriel
Director of Photography: Timothy Pike
Art Director: Keenan McAdam


Post Production: Upstairs Ludus
Editor: Kobus Loots
Colourist: Nic Apostoli
Visual Effects Artist: Charmaine Greyling
Composer: Markus Wormstorm