How 70 000 globes did more than light up the town of Stanford

What might have been a bleak Christmas for small-town Stanford has transformed into one of the most memorable festive seasons the town’s tourism has ever seen. Agency 99c, production company 7 Films and Checkers wanted to honour this community that stood together during the town’s recent floods by lighting up the main street with a Santa-approved lights display. Bringing a little bit of ‘xtra joy’ back to a community that nearly lost everything ended up having a lasting impact felt throughout the area.

While still trying to recover from the effects the pandemic had on tourism, Stanford was then hit hard by terrible fires followed this year by floods and hurricane winds. The brief was in; bring a little ‘xtra joy’ to a community in need this Christmas. A simple idea that ended up making a big difference.

An invitation was sent to the flood victims, heroes and first responders, many of whom hadn’t had the opportunity to speak to each other since the incident. The over 200 guests were asked to gather around a long table on the main road of Standford to enjoy a feast and see the lights being turned on for the first time. As the guests were served a Christmas dinner, 70,000 solar-powered bulbs illuminated the main road. Metal sculptures of life-sized animals and Christmas trees created by local artists were flickering as those who once shared in the heartbreak of the floods could now share in a new far brighter experience. The event was catered by locals from Searles restaurant, with food from Chef DJ Searle Crabtree, who was also one of the rescuers from the floods.

The evening was filmed and forms part of a moving mini-documentary about a small town’s resilience and its road back to becoming a community. It was however not the final chapter in this town’s story.

Sculpture by Stanford artist Michael Methven

Our accommodation bookings have already doubled from the past four years and the morale of our community has never been higher, says Penny van den Berg, owner of The Stanford Hotel.

Beyond honouring the victims and heroes of the floods, 99c, 7 Films and Checkers, had a greater goal in mind. Bring Stanford’s tourism back to life. The lights that lit up the Xmas feast now remain in Stanford and its shop fronts for the entire festive season, the effects of which have already been felt by the town’s tourism industry. The town has seen a massive surge in visitors in the first few weeks and locals have responded quickly to the newfound attention, opening stalls and small businesses for all the locals and tourists to enjoy.

‘It has been life-changing experiencing the after-effects of our work here in Stanford. It’s not very often I get to see what we leave behind after a shoot but to me, this has been so special to witness. This main road is the artery of the whole area and to see it full of people, families from all communities, and tourists from all over the world, that’s incredible. Tourism and local businesses are thriving but most importantly, it has brought this town back together. The transformation is humbling,’ says Lourens van Rensburg, director at 7 Films.

‘This campaign is a testament to how creativity and collaboration, can take good ideas and turn them into great ideas that work hard for brands. Checkers honoured a community that stood together with a little xtra joy, but beyond that, they turned the idea into something that will change a town long after we have left,’ says Production Director of 99c Hylton Heather who worked closely with 7 Films and the team at Platform Creative to bring this campaign to life.

Dedicating approximately six weeks to finding the people and the real stories of what happened during the floods, Director Lourens recognised that the only way to really get to know the people of Stanford and tell their stories authentically was to become a part of the town’s fabric. ‘I think we are now in our third month of living here. We moved the whole 7 Films team here from Cape Town – our offices, equipment and edit suites, and my whole family. This is such a special town and I think we will probably end up living here,’ he adds.

Lourens and his family enjoying their new community in Stanford

Every element of this campaign was a tribute to Stanford’s spirit. From the catering of the dinner by Searles restaurant to Stanford local and internationally acclaimed artist Michael Methven sculpting the masterpieces that lined the streets, complemented by backdrops crafted by talented local artists. ‘We aimed not just to tell a story but to uplift the community. Our commitment extended beyond the dinner event, with a deliberate choice not to outsource talent. From the camera assistant to fixers, location managers, and unit managers, they all hailed from Stanford. We took it a step further, offering skill development opportunities for locals eager to learn on set. It was about creating an experience that resonated authentically with the heart of Stanford,’ says Hylton.


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This is a story brought to life by many moving parts, a story that proves that what we do in this industry, can change lives. Nowadays it’s so easy to tell if a campaign was successful because we can track how many views and likes it gets but, in this case, it was feet on the street and it worked. Incredible to see. Well done to all involved and book your trip to Stanford to see the lights – they’re up until the first week of January 2024.

Contact 99c
+27 21 4605299

View 99c Website

Contact 7 Films

Executive Producer: Nina van Rensburg

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View 7 Films Website

Produced by the IDIDTHAT Content Studio – Credits: Anne Hirsch (Writer) / Julie Maunder

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This Editorial is paid for by 99c and 7 Films. Want our studio to create content that puts your agency/company/kickass ad you made in bright lights for the whole industry to see? View or editorial packages or contact and we’ll make it happen! #Boom