Last July, Ford South Africa released a short film, The Independent State of Nandi. I found the short through a YouTube ad placement. As a sucker for short films, I often spend an unanticipated two to three hours watching indie short films and movie trailers. Thankfully, what eventually spurned one such YouTube binge, The Independent State of Nandi, was relatable.

I’ve never owned a vehicle, much less driven with my significant other in the passenger seat. However, I can recall many moments, good and bad, spent in the car. I remember getting dressed for dance competitions in the backseat of my family’s 4×4 truck. There was also the occasional heated exchange between the driver and whoever occupied the passenger seat. More fondly, I remember never knowing directions on account of my habitual backseat napping. Granted the Ford Fiesta isn’t a truck, but my childhood memories tugged on my girlhood nostalgia as I watched.

The Independent State of Nandi as a film

En route to Amazimotoni for her sister’s wedding, we watch Nandi (Lebo Borole) and Sechaba’s (Marcus Mabusela) road trip unfold. The couple is accompanied by Nandi’s ex-boyfriend, the thorn in Sechaba’s side. In this film, the male lead is the “undeserving”/”unworthy” partner, as opposed to the typical “she’s not good enough” trope. I usually see the womxn in this role try to be “the best”, thus I was frustrated with Sechaba’s attitude throughout the duration of the film. From his nonchalance towards his girlfriend’s stress and the position her family placed her to his unwarranted jealousy, I found myself exasperated while watching him.

Dialogue and body language prove to be the most important elements of this film, in my opinion. Acting chops aside, the actors are set in a confined space, a Ford Fiesta, and have to somehow bring the story alive in a moving vehicle. Directed by Zwelethu Radebe, viewers were focused on nothing but what was said, how it was said, and what could come next.

The film as an advertisement

Nevertheless, Ford is trying to sell cars, specifically the Fiesta. Would I purchase this car after having watched the ad? I don’t know; I’d have to interrogate the car market in comparison to the job market of South Africa first. However, after watching this advertisement, I have not been able to forget the Ford Fiesta since watching. This is ad recall, a measure of an ad’s effectiveness based on whether or not the ad can be remembered by viewers.

More so, as a creative artist, I’m certainly more inclined to like Ford on the basis that they spoke to my interests as someone who appreciates the arts. Ford didn’t just produce an ad, they produced a film; one that makes me support and enjoy the brand even more!