Regent Highway Heroes – The search to find South Africa’s best truck driver

September 13, 2016 · 2 comments

in Advertising,Campaigns,Culture,Documentary,portraiture

Regent Insurance’s campaign – Highway Heroes – is the biggest campaign I have worked on and, without any doubt, has been the highlight of 2016 for me.

Last November, the first Regent Insurance Highway Hero award for being South Africa’s best truck driver went to Themba Vilakazi, who won R50 000. In March this year, we started the new Highway Hero campaign to spread the word about what South Africa’s truck drivers do every day and to raise awareness about what these everyday heroes do for us as a nation – and the search for the 2016 winner began in earnest.

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Themba Vilakasi

Regent selected popular local personalities as brand ambassadors and to be the voices of the campaign – Derek Watts, Sasha Martinego, Loyiso Bala, John Adams and, much to my surprise and delight, me!

We created a behind-the-scenes video of the photo shoots, which includes interviews with the crew, the personalities and the people in the industry to bring in the ‘realness’ factor. The video highlights the under-rated importance of truck drivers and the sacrifices they make to ensure the shops are stocked, petrol stations have fuel and that items of importance are transported from A to B every day. We even visited their homes away from home and hung out at truck stop canteens to listen to their stories and let them know that we do care and that we are grateful for what they do.

In April, we surprised Themba by rebranding the Fairfield Long Haul trucks with a massive photograph of himself on the side of his truck. The look of pure joy on Themba’s face when he saw his ‘rig’ made it very clear to everyone that this recognition meant the world to him and it was certainly one of the heart-warming moments of this successful campaign that everyone will remember for a long, long time.

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The branding process

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Themba’s reaction seeing himself on his truck for the first time

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Themba’s truck

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Truck branding with Sasha Martinengo

Over the past few months, the Regent team and crew has toured the country following truck drivers and getting a glimpse into their lives. We made late night visits to truck stops and handed out promotional packs to weary truck drivers and engaged with them. We laughed and we cried – and our perceptions of truck drivers changed. These truck drivers said our interactions with them made them feel validated, that they appreciated the time we spent with them and they were grateful for the opportunity to be heard. One truck driver, Mark Marufu, was so touched by the work we were doing that when he saw the team at the same truck stop early the next morning, he bought each one of us a deliciously sweet fresh orange as a token of his appreciation. While that may seem trivial to some people, for me it was a defining moment when I fully comprehended how much of a difference we were making.

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Katlego Maboe with Mark Marufu

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Mark Marufu and the Regent Highway Heroes team with our oranges

As this year’s campaign draws to an end, we all have one question on our mind: Who will be our next Highway Hero? The winner will be announced on 17 November 2016.

These were the adverts of the brand ambassadors, used in various media and publications:

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Derek Watts

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Sasha Martinengo

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John Adams

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Loyiso and Jen Bala

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Paul Dangerfield, Regent RCV

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Sherril Rankin, Regent Operations Manager

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Myself

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Rorisang Morebodi, Regent Experimental Marketing Officer

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Michelle Ashen Abrahams, Regent GM Marketing

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Ash Singh, Regent Segment Marketing Manager

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Gary Meyer, Regent Art Director

Behind the scenes on our travels across the country, interviewing truck drivers:

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Interview at a truck stop in the Northern Free State

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A place to worship for truck drivers on the road at Highway Junction, Harrismith

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Interviews alongside the road

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Interviewing a truck driver in Harrismith

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Interviewing Graeme Watkins at a truck stop in Belfast

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Graeme Watkins

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The crew in action in Belfast

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Katlego Maboe in Belfast

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Late night interviews with truck drivers

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2015 Runner up winner, Dumisane in Meyerton

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The accommodation where Dumisane stays while away from his family

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Dumisane’s office

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Themba also featured on a billboard en route to the airport

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And so did Sasha Martinengo!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle September 13, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Thank you Rikki for telling South Africa your story and your journey with us throughout 2016! It’s been a challenging year, but it is these stories and experiences that remind us to say Thank You, show love, appreciation and recognition for unsung heroes. Such a pleasure working with you.

rikkihibbert September 13, 2016 at 9:32 pm

Thanks Michelle, this journey with the Highway Heroes campaign has touched my heart and been a very special experience for me as a person, and as a photographer. The trips we did, the people we met, the stories we heard and the memories we made, are priceless and I’m so lucky to have been a part of this.

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