Volkswagen’s Latest Campaign Drives People To Discover New Possibilities


To usher in the new T-Roc, Volkswagen (VW) South Africa has partnered with Major Mandisa Mfeka and Kitty Phetla to launch short films to tell their stories of defiance as part of the VW T-Roc #TheDrivetoDefy campaign. 

Mfeka made history when she became the first black female combat pilot in South Africa. Her story inspired many women not only in South Africa, but around the world where gender equality is still a struggle. Kitty Phetla transcended cultural barriers in becoming the first black ballerina to dance ‘The Dying Swan’ in Russia, at a time when ballet was conservative, and transformed the industry.

Like many industries, the film and communications industry was hard hit by the Covid‐19 pandemic. The pandemic presented new challenges for the production team. In line with #TheDrivetoDefy concept, the films were briefed and produced during the lockdown in Johannesburg, Alexandra, Pretoria and Middleburg Airfield with the core team attending and directing shoots remotely.

Mfeka, who also made history by being the first woman to form part of the Hawks formation display during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inauguration in 2019, is happy to come on board and partner with VW to tell her inspirational story.

‘We used to claim that ‘The sky’s the limit’, but by being in the sky we are already defining what the limit is and limiting how far we can go. I live by the quote that ‘The sky is the baseline’. This film resonates with me so much because I got to witness how I chose to ignore the naysayers and chose to go after my goals. Every person that was part of making these films has defied someone and anyone that has ever said no to them,’ said Mfeka.

‘The film is inspired by the many heroes and heroines who didn’t have a roadmap cleared out for them. The people who were told to ‘know their place’ and yet continue to defy and smash glass ceilings and challenge stereotypes against tremendous odds,’ said Meredith Kelly, Head of Marketing at Volkswagen.

‘The new T‐Roc is not what people expect from Volkswagen, which is why it made sense to partner with heroines like Mfeka and Phetla because their stories are all about achieving the unexpected. The films delve deep into their journeys, covering their defining moments. Becoming the first black female combat fighter pilot was not easy. Becoming the first black ballerina to dance ‘The Dying’ Swan in a time when ballet was conservative was unheard of,’ continued Kelly.

‘In my personal experience, life has always been self‐explanatory. You are your own in this competitive, challenging world. It is how you make sense of it all and connect the puzzle. You have to constantly be in competition with yourself, you have to be a step ahead of yourself to visualise your goals, take them in, accelerate, execute and own it. ‘Who do you think you are’, you ask. The master of my craft is who I am,’ said Phetla.

The films were launched in partnership with brand and communications agency Ogilvy Cape Town and produced and directed by Fausto Becatti of Bioscope Films. True to its core meaning #TheDrivetoDefy, four additional films are included that were shot in partnership with four protagonists who, like Mfeka and Kitty, embody #TheDrivetoDefy attitude. The additional films were directed by Kyla Philander. The platform will house these stories of defiant individuals who were once told to know their place but chose to stand out and disrupt norms and industries.

These include:

Rasta Mpholo – disrupted the status quo by not having a conventional career path. He worked as a security guard and has defied the odds to become an assistant director of cinematography.

Kyla Philander – her film brings to life her continual struggle with depression and how, every day, she tries to try put words to something so hard to understand. It depicts her battle against depression, anxiety and imposter syndrome in becoming a revered film director.

Jodi Windvogel – challenges stereotypes through photography by giving new perspectives on women like herself and her community.

Kuda Vazhure – having left Zimbabwe to find his place in the world and make a name for himself, he now pushes the limits as a stunt and precision driver.

View the #TheDrivetoDefy films here.