How Mzansi’s Unsung Stars Joined Shimza To Stand Up For Individuality In Ballantine’s New ad

Whether dance, fashion, art or music is your preferred form of self-expression, there’s no wrong way if you stay true to yourself. That’s the message behind the inspiring new Ballantine’s commercial, which harnesses the power of our diverse local talent to show that in a world of impersonators, individuality is king.

The Stay True: There’s No Wrong Way global campaign is now hitting South African shores with a dynamic television advert that features Shimza as well as a constellation of friends of the brand who are stars in their own right, from a Vaal-based amputee dancer to an indigenous dance troupe from Ekurhuleni. These are real people with real stories and authentic ways of expressing their individuality.

The commercial is a celebration of Mzansi’s diverse melting pot, urging people to “do it for the culture … dress to flex, or to relax … dance like you’re on the guest list … [and] turn those expectations off”. It’s a potent call to action to be true to your vision and your instinct.

Says Justice Mukheli from Romance films, who directed the commercial: “Working on this campaign was such a wonderful experience that helped me reflect my own experience and view on ‘Staying true’ and ‘There’s no wrong way’.

From the brief, I felt so connected to this film because I could relate on a deeper level: I’ve always had an imposter syndrome for not having had formal training as a film director. So, firstly, working on this project really instilled in me the confidence that I can do it my way, and however my process unfolds as a filmmaker and artist, there’s no wrong way. – Justice Mukheli

“Then, also, this project came with the opportunity to tell stories that are a fresh take among our competitors by bringing stories with heart and meaning that speak to the people from a relatable point of view. I’m so grateful to have contributed to this film and to have brought meaning and heart to it,” says Mukheli.

To show that Ballantine’s is a whisky for everyone, embracing people who think for themselves and free themselves from society’s expectations, the brand decided to scout for lesser-known local talent instead of actors to feature in the campaign – South Africans who shine in their own, unique ways.

Keval Ramraj, the Ballantine’s Scotch Whisky Senior Brand Manager in South Africa, says that the local campaign taps into the true South African “passion points”, which include dancing, going out and dressing to express themselves: “We feel these passion points resonate not just with our consumer but with South Africans as a whole, and we’d like to be the vehicle driving the spirit of ‘There’s no wrong way’ through these relevant touchpoints.”

Shimza, who is the “face” of the campaign alongside many rising stars, truly embodies the essence of this message, as he has pushed boundaries as a DJ, taking his one-man show to Portugal and France and also branching out as a restaurateur and businessman. – Ramraj

“His ‘Stay true’ mentality has brought many great opportunities for him, which he always brings back to his hometown, Tembisa, which he’s very proud of. To quote Shimza: ‘If you want to be the first DJ to perform in space, then make it happen – because there’s no wrong way.’”