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How ‘Biking Bandits’ Brought Cycling Back to Soweto’s Streets


Groundglass’ Jason Fialkov and Saatchi & Saatchi South Africa’s Dylan Davies tell LBB’s Nisna Mahtani about Klipdrift’s ‘Friends with Purpose’ sporting series

How ‘Biking Bandits’ Brought Cycling Back to Soweto’s Streets

Combining sport with socialising and a brotherhood, Biking Bandits – a South African cycling community – paired up with brandy company Klipdrift to show the positive impact of ‘social riding’. In the campaign, the Soweto-based cycling group champions its motto of 'bringing cycling back to the hood' and aligning with the ‘Friends with Purpose’ series from Klipdrift.

The campaign film follows Titi Mashele, Tsatsi Rantsatsi and Tebogo Galagala as they explain how they created Biking Bandits to promote their “freedom of movement” and respond to the loneliness of the covid pandemic. Giving them the ability to not only dress and express themselves in any way they want, but to channel their energy into the sport of cycling, it’s had a life-changing effect on the group. 

Throughout the two-and-a-half-day shoot for the campaign, the aim was to capture the urban cycling movement in the most natural way possible, as the group rode through the rain, and sunshine, interacting with each other during this period. With a clear passion for making cycling accessible, the partnership between Biking Bandits and Klipdrift fit perfectly within the brandy brand’s sporting series. 

Jason Fialkov, director and cinematographer at Groundglass and Dylan Davies, executive creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi South Africa, speak to LBB’s Nisna Mahtani about the Biking Bandits movement and why they embody Klipdrift’s brand.

LBB> Let’s start by speaking about Biking Bandits. How was the group formed and why was it an important cause to highlight?

Dylan> The Biking Bandits was formed out of the loneliness of covid, between a group of friends who wanted to reconnect with their community during a strange, lonely time. It started as a group of friends riding together and wanting to spread their love of cycling to their wider Soweto community and just grew from there.

Their story really talks about the power of friendship to create real change and inspire others around us.

Jason> The friendship factor was important, particularly highlighting the power of friendship and a shared purpose against the backdrop of the covid-19 pandemic – where there was a lack of connection and a lot of loneliness because the whole world was isolating. 

It was important to me to highlight one effort at reconnecting; being outside, being able to explore and connect with each other again. This is what Biking Bandits was born out of – a need to reconnect and share a common love for cycling. 

Another added layer of interest for me with this story was that this film provided an opportunity to showcase cycling in a different setting. The face of cycling in South Africa has predominantly been white and these guys are changing things and reinforcing that this is an activity that everyone can participate in; wearing what they want and cycling in whatever spaces they want to. 

LBB> When did the conversation about including the bikers first begin? And how do they embody the client’s vision?

Dylan> We first caught sight of the Biking Bandits in a news clip about them. Their passion and excitement about cycling and making it accessible to everyone was immediately evident and infectious. Klipdrift is a brand that believes in the power of deep friendships, and this is the motivation behind the Friends with Purpose stories – finding real friends who are doing amazing things in their communities. When you meet Titi [Mashele], Tsatsi [Rantsatsi] and Tebogo [Galagala] you can see how much they love and respect each other and that this deep friendship has allowed them to create the Biking Bandits movement. 

Jason> At the core of all the stories that form a part of this campaign is ‘friendship with purpose’; Biking Bandits’ social impact is undeniable – they encourage the people in their community and have become a movement. Uniquely, this is one story where the purpose (bringing people with a shared love for cycling together) is simply the beginning of the story; lots of work relationships have begun here, life-long friendships too, I imagine that a lot of kids growing up in Soweto now and seeing the Biking Bandits might grow up with an interest in becoming professional cyclists. Their friendship and this cycling group are just the beginning of things.

LBB> You capture the Biking Bandits in the rain, sunshine and within their workshops. How long did it take to shoot the different scenes which make up the campaign?

Jason> The overall shoot took about two and a half days – the whole idea was to shoot their story as an authentic ‘day-in-the-life-of’. We let them do their thing and captured it. The aim is always to keep these films as real as possible. It wasn’t supposed to rain on one of the days but it did and we shot it – the results are beautiful.  

LBB> What was the process of creating the copy for the piece? Was there any improvisation or did it follow the rhythm of the script which was created?

Dylan> We created an initial script based on conversations with Titi, Tsatsi & Tebogo. This led to our thinking and line of questioning over the two-day shoot, but ultimately nothing the guys said was scripted. We had very honest conversations with them on camera and had hours of footage for our editor (Barry Smit) and director to piece together with our script as a skeleton.

Jason> There are key points that we aim to highlight in each film and that’s establishing the friendship story; when their friendship started, what friendship means to them, understanding who they are and what they mean to each other. Importantly, we highlight the ways in which their friendship benefits the people around them and has a positive impact on their community. Everything else is unscripted and we shoot it as it unfolds: the aim is to simply let the subjects of our film be and see them go about things in their world in an authentic manner.  

LBB> The edit would have been where this piece came together, the sound matching so well with the narration. Were there any challenges you faced during this part of the process?

Jason> No, our edit process was pretty straightforward. I had a really good editor on this job, Barry Smit from Prodigious, he has a knack for piecing dialogue together into an emotive narrative.

LBB> Specifically focusing on the music aspect of the piece, how did you land on this particular track? 

Jason> All credit goes to Barry for that one – he chose the music. I suppose that’s the mark of a great editor – he chose a track that complimented the picture well. He did the same with the Khayelitsha Canoe Club film, he chose music that makes one feel something and that’s what music should do, especially in a documentary – it’s the heartbeat of the film.

Dylan> We weren’t really sure which genre of music to use for this piece. But when we went to our first edit, Barry had found this piece and we all felt that it just worked. The more we listened, the more we loved it. 

LBB> Previous campaigns have featured the Khayelitsha Canoe Club and the Kwaru Rugby Club, what’s next from here?

Dylan> We’re staying with sports and looking at the friendship and camaraderie that happens in the stands at the Nation’s rugby matches as we follow the story of the Gwijo Squad.

LBB> What have some of the responses to this campaign been like? Can you share some memorable reactions?

Jason> The biggest highlight for me has been seeing how the Biking Bandits have grown in the last month since the film came out – a lot more people have started joining their rides, and a lot of people are showing them love. The film is doing what it’s supposed to – it’s touching lives and bringing people together. The comments on social media have been amazing and really uplifting. The Biking Bandits film hit 1 million views on YouTube in less than two weeks of its release, this shows that the film is being shared and being spoken about which is great. The Khayelitsha Canoe Club film has also had over 1 million views on YouTube. The Biking Bandits film recently picked up an IDIDTHAT Craft Award for Direction which is great.

Dylan> It’s been amazing to see the positive reactions to the Biking Bandits story on social media. In a time when people’s attention spans are limited, seeing people engaging with a longer-form piece of branded content has been very rewarding. Several friends and colleagues have said this film gave them all the feels and a bit of a tear in the eye. I think the guys are such likeable, real, characters and you can feel how much they love each other, and this has really touched people.

The Biking Bandits themselves are so thrilled with how the piece has helped them to grow the Biking Bandits community and with the support of Klipdrift their cycling businesses – which they’ve now expanded into an additional bike shop and city cycle tours.

LBB> Would you like to share anything else with us?

Jason> I’ve loved every minute of working on these films – they are soulful films, with a lot of heart. It’s not your typical Advertising; with commercials that are overproduced, forced and staged, these films are raw and heartfelt and I think that’s why they have been received as well as they have. More brands need to do work that makes a difference and gives back to the community in some way. That’s what Klipdrift has done well with this campaign – they are supporting these organisations and helping them grow. 


Campaign Title: Friends With Purpose
Title: Khayelitsha Canoe Club, Kwaru Rugby Club, Biking Bandits
Brand: Klipdrift
Product: Klipdrift Export
Sector: Alcohol

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi South Africa
CCO: Jonathan Beggs
ECD: Dylan Davies
AD: Mzuyanda Swartbooi, Derek Poole
CW: Trevor Sacks, Amy Thompson
Exec Producer: Nicky Furno, Ali Coetzee
Account Director: Shannon Straightfill
Strategist. Devon Ross, Ryan Fortune

Client: Klipdrift
Brand Category Lead: Junior Jekwa
Marketing Manager: Fred Leclezio 
Brand Manager: Nadia Anthony

Production Company: Prodigious, Groundglass 
Executive Producer: Janette de Villiers
Producer: Debra Stubbs, Meike Varga
Director: Jason Fialkov
Cinematographer: Jason Fialkov
Editor: Barry Smit, Emily Bussac
Colourist: Kyle Stroebel

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Groundglass, Thu, 22 Sep 2022 16:33:00 GMT