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As part of the much anticipated Sony Pictures Television ‘Picture This’ campaign, devoted to raising global awareness for environmental issues, they now ask you to look deeper into the cause. Picture a baby rhino nuzzling its mother, flipping away errant flies with its tail and ears. Now picture encountering a couple of life-size rhinos foraging within the precinct of Gautrain’s Sandton Station. They are virtual, of course, and it was quite a journey to create this amazing spectacle in the heart of Johannesburg’s financial and transport hub.

The idea started with the management of the Sony Pictures Television. “The various Sony Picture Television networks world-wide support global causes in their respective regions, and for Africa we chose to raise awareness of the plight of the rhino poaching scourge, and of course, other endangered species,” says Sonja Underwood, who heads up the Sony Channel’s for African from London, UK.“We commissioned a television campaign which illustrates the fragile existence of the rhino in particular – if we do not protect them, they will in future exist as animals in virtual space only.” says Underwood.
Everyone knows Africa’s Big Five, but one of the greatest engineering achievements on the Continent is the swift and futuristic Gautrain. “We are proudly South African, and care about the environment,” says Dr Barbara Jensen-Vorster, Director of Communication for the Gautrain. “When we heard of the campaign, we invited Sony Pictures Televisoin on board and they enabled the development of an application that creates the grazing rhino within the walls of the station.”

The concept is simple but profoundly entertaining: by downloading the app once through the Gautrain turnstiles at Sandton Station, commuters need only pan their smartphones over the designated area to see the rhino forage placidly within the confines of the designated “savannah”. And by turning their smartphones around, they can snap a selfie with the rhino right behind them.

“It’s a great way to create an awareness of the fragility of nature and the rhino in particular,” says Sony’s Sonja Underwood. Dr Jensen-Vorster of the Gautrain concurs. “It’s educational and fun and of course, like the Gautrain, quintessentially South African. It’s great to see a brand like Sony recognize our endangered species.”

The television campaign and the virtual app throws its combined weight behind the RAGE organisation, one of the most prominent supporters of the fight against poaching. The campaign will urge viewers and app users to visit the RAGE website and to support the work they do. “Just communicating the message is not enough,” says Sony’s Sonja Underwood.

“We looked for a credible and passionate partner to support in this worthy cause, and RAGE has all the credentials we were looking for.”
The campaign will run for several weeks on the DSTV platform and have a high rotation on the Sony Channel (127 on DStv) and Sony Max (128 on DStv), whilst commuters can enjoy the thrill of the rhino app for the months of September and October.

Tune into Sony Channel (DSTV Channel 127) and Sony Max (DStv Channel 128) in the months of September and October, not only for your favourite viewing but also see the thrill of how the rhino app played out. Just ‘Picture This’.

The app will not be active during peak times on the Gautrain to prevent congestion, but will run outside peak times.

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