Romance Films’ director Jabu Newman speaks Gen-Z in Standard Bank’s latest commercial ‘10% Millionaires’

Director Jabu Newman has crafted a visually vibrant and unapologetically Gen-Z world for Standard Bank. Reality meets every young adult’s fantasy in the stylish tongue-in-cheek campaign that uses energetic TikTok-inspired transitions to authentically celebrate South Africa’s youth culture.

In collaboration with M&C Saatchi the high-octane commercial was shot over just two days in and around Joburg. Working entirely with a cast and crew under the age of 25, there are few directors who could have pulled off this youthful and irreverent spot as authentically as Jabu. She says: ‘I love this script because it resonates with my belief in this generation. I know what it’s like to take a leap of faith and follow your dreams.’

The ‘10% Millionaires’ campaign is a way of incentivising the youth to make their first 100k before the age of 30, because, according to the bank, ‘Once you hit 10% of a million, you are on your way to success.’ Now you tell us!

Selfie-mode activated! Watch the commercial here.

We spoke to the always incredibly cool and charming Jabu on a call all the way from Berlin. The Romance Films director flew to Germany to judge the Porsche Awards, but plot twist, KLM delayed her flight by 48 hours and she missed the ceremony #SABOTAGE! Nevertheless, we were lucky enough to virtually catch up with her while she was spending a few days in Berlin.

Q: What drew you to the ‘10% Millionaires’ script?

Jabu: This is very much the kind of work I care about and believe in. I feel like I went through a very similar journey as the characters in this commercial. Wanting to follow my dream and make the sacrifices to do that was something that my family might not have understood at the time. I was excited about the opportunity to look at where my generation wants to go, but also where they are now and celebrate both those moments. The commercial was about showing the journey before and after, but also that you can be in those two places at the same time. I was so excited to see a bank go in this direction, a really cool and relevant piece of communication.

Q: The entire crew and cast were under the age of 25, how did that come about and what was the experience like?

Jabu: It was really important to me that the cast authentically reflected the generation and the people that the ad was speaking to. I wanted the cast and crew to fully understand TikTok and the transitions I would be using, this is something that made the entire process so much easier. I feel like most young people are ready for the camera by now, because they’ve been performing for their phones since they were like 12 years old, so the young cast were all absolute naturals.

It was also really important to me to work with my DOP Jason Prins on this. We share a similar background and work ethic and I knew he would be the perfect collaborator for this spot.

BTS video of Standard Bank’s ‘10% Millionaires’

Q: The transitions you used to tell the story are so slick and smart, what was your approach?

Jabu: I used the jumps and camera transitions to take us from the dream world to reality. The Tik-Tok transitions were a really fun way to move the narrative along while immersing us in the aspirational world of these characters. The intention was to clearly show what our characters dream of, their goals, and how they’re hustling and making sacrifices to achieve these aspirations. We wanted the visuals to really land that they were doing bougie on a budget.

Q: You really captured the energy and vibe of the local TikTok generation, a generation that sometimes has a reputation for being entitled, what’s your perspective?

Jabu: Some people see this generation in a very specific way; that they are naive, lazy, on their phones all the time or that they all want to be famous, all want to be creative. Sure, maybe they are not following paths that are traditional, but they are forging their own ways and their own paths and yeah, they can be cocky about it, but why not, they are owning that space and I have a lot of respect for that. They are putting in the work and getting results.

BTS on Standard Bank’s ‘10% Millionaires’

Q: Casting must have been quite a task. Where did you find all these characters?

Jabu: The team at Kevin Gray casting were amazing as always. We searched for a long time because we wanted to find authentic people who actually use TikTok, and we did. They are all playful and confident with a tongue-in-cheek attitude. These characters lean into their ‘flaws’, taking ownership before anyone can troll them.

Jabu Newman is a culturally conscious and collaborative director who genuinely cares about what she puts her name to, always pushing and questioning to ensure the work is the best it possibly can be. She explores subject matter with sensitivity but also with a great sense of humour. A filmmaker who has established herself as someone passionate about South Africa and championing equal representation both in front of and behind the camera. Why not (s)talk some more? Romance on IDIDTHAT


Executive Producer: Helena Woodfine

Executive Producer: Rozanne Rocha-Gray

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

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