Netflix ‘Made in South Africa’ content generates excitement for travel

by Adele Mackenzie

Made in South Africa
Shola Sanni, Netflix Director of Public Policy for sub-Saharan Africa. 

Global streaming service, Netflix, has announced the launch of the ‘Made in South Africa’ content collection – a curated collection featuring over 80 South African films, series, documentaries and reality TV shows.

The collection was announced after the global streaming service shared the results from its ‘Cultural Affinity Study’ during a panel discussion at the three-day Africa’s Travel & Tourism Summit – held in Johannesburg and Durban – which concluded yesterday (September 21).

The Cultural Affinity survey was a collaboration between South African Tourism and Netflix, with the marketing body looking at creative ways to retain the country as an attractive travel option for global travellers.

Subsequently, in March this year, SA Tourism and Netflix agreed to explore joint opportunities that look to showcase South African-made stories that can drive international arrivals to the country.

Speaking at the Summit, Shola Sanni, Netflix Director of Public Policy for sub-Saharan Africa, said the ‘Made in South Africa’ collection would be accessible to Netflix’s more than 209 million subscribers from over 190 countries.

It will feature shows included in the Cultural Affinity survey and the much-loved shows and films such as My Octopus TeacherBlood & WaterJIVA!How to Ruin Christmas: The WeddingTrippin’ with the KandasamysI Am All GirlsQueen SonoKings of JoburgSantanaRiding with SugarSeriously Single and many more.

“It is about partnering to showcase the best of the local culture. It is about South Africans telling their stories to the world. There is a connection that happens when people view content and stories on Netflix. What we found is this power to be a cultural ambassador for South Africa and the continent,” she said.

The Cultural Affinity survey – conducted with subscribers from Canada, Germany, the US, the UK, Brazil and France – found that, after watching South African content, they were 3.1 times more likely to make South Africa their number-one travel destination while also being 5.6 times more likely to learn a local language.

The survey also found that South African content was a powerful vehicle for creating deeper cultural affinity that could drive tourism. “It ties into the objective that tourism boards around the world want to achieve on how they can leverage the power of storytelling on the service and translate it into actual tourism influx. By bringing these insights to government, we thought they could leverage this opportunity to increase actual tourism traffic,” said Sanni.

Findings showed that viewers of My Octopus Teacher wanted to visit South Africa for its nature and wildlife, viewers of Blood & Water were attracted to its landmarks and monuments, while viewers of Seriously Single wanted to explore the country’s creative scene. Not only do these stories showcase the beauty of South Africa but also showcase the country as a great film production location for other content creators around the world. “The very first thing for partners to understand is, the more authentic the story is, the more compelling it is for viewers – not the simplistic portrayal of Africa, but the true and authentic side of Africa.”

Viewers who participated in the survey were able to relate to the stories and characters in these and other South African productions. “They saw themselves reflected in those stories. One US viewer said they felt people in South Africa had the same aspirations and life experiences as those in their country,” said Sanni.

“Now more than ever, digital technology allows us to transcend geographical borders and enable people from around the world to view local content.”

Netflix partnership builds soft power

Chief Marketing Officer of South African Tourism, Mzilikazi Themba Khumalo, said the partnership between Netflix and South African Tourism arose from the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. People were not able to travel and opted for consuming content on platforms such as Netflix. “We saw that as an opportunity to enhance South Africa’s communications to the world as storytelling in the long form.”

Khumalo said destinations could serve as backdrops for films to attract viewers to those places. “As a tourism body we need to have a backdrop for a story that Netflix wants to tell. If you watch American movies shot in Washington DC, shots of the White House, The Capitol and other key icons in the city are shown. They have built the iconography in the film to project the power of the destination.”

According to Sanni, for every original production, 67% of the budget goes to sectors other than film. “Countries must realise that the film industry must be leveraged to fulfil economic deliverables.”

FAME Week Africa

FAME Week Africa

FWA Connect bringing the Film, Arts, Media and Entertainment sector together by providing creative industry professionals on the African continent with news, trends and in-depth articles.

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