Behind the Scenes

Telling A Story

Terry van Rhyn, MD at Ashgrove Marketing, explains the evolution of the Boston Brand.
As a business, Boston Family office supplied exceptional quality services to exceptional people. When Ashgrove Marketing was approached to help develop the brand proposition, it was clear to us that Boston needed to stand apart from other businesses in this sector.

It was also clear that Boston needed to feel at home with the other lifestyle brands its clients were surrounded by every day. Boston had to belong and be comfortable sitting around the same dining table or attending a party with ultra-premium brands like Cartier, Rolex, Porsche, Louis Vuitton, Bentley, etc.

From the beginning, we were less concerned with positioning Boston against its direct competitive environment but we were laser-focused on understanding what makes their clients tick – who they are, what drives them and what is important in their lives.

Up in the stratospheric heights of these super highfliers, the overriding shared characteristic is that these are people who are able to cut through the clutter and not be affected by the chaos around them. They are not negatively affected by disorder or turmoil – in fact they embrace this volatility, and they are able to stay resolute in achieving results. If this was easy and anyone could do it, then they would not be unique or different.

From this understanding, the premise and the positioning of the business evolved quite naturally into a very evocative and appropriate strapline –


Technology today has allowed us to present concept ideas that are so close to the proposed final execution that clients do not have to visualise what something will finally look like from rough pencil sketches. Such a “hand drawn” approach can be high risk but with a brave client such as Boston, we were able to share a mutual trust that made this journey relatively seamless for both parties.

The visual treatment to achieve this exceptional brand image and feel was certainly not going to be found in stock photography libraries. Every single element of this brand had to be exceptional and the devil was in the smallest of details. So, the journey started in search of those who were able to not only deliver, but to exceed our expectations.

The first and most important element was to find a photographer who understood the brief, had worked with professional models and was able to offer something exceptional that would enhance our creative concept.

The hunt for our ideal photographer took us to Russia, Hungary and Norway before finally settling on the sunny shores of Cape Town, South Africa, where I made contact again with my good friend and photographer, Johan Wilke. He had established himself as a very in-demand fashion photographer and was commissioned to shoot spreads for numerous international fashion magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Style and a host of local titles.

The beauty of collaborating with someone who shares a similar creative vision is that they are willing to share the risks and push the boundaries to uncover the unexpected. A true creative collaboration is rare, but when it happens it is a wonderful experience.

My creative director, Leigh Windell, was the mastermind behind the creative visuals and her relentless pursuit for perfection was what eventually made these rise high above the mundane and ordinary. Coordinating couture garment designs, selecting models, approving locations, briefing the photographer – all done remotely – took a Herculean effort.

The shoot was scheduled for mid-February 2015 which is the perfect time to shoot in Cape Town for two reasons. Firstly, the weather is perfect – no wind, no rain and not too hot. Secondly, about 5,000 international models are gathered in Cape Town from October to March to be on tap for TV commercials or movies. This part of the world has become the Mecca for international TV and movie productions, partly due to the beautiful and varied landscapes, weather and of course the costs due to favourable currency exchanges.

We had five days maximum to capture the shots we needed to create the magic although one lesson I have learned over the years about shooting on location is that if things can go wrong, they will. No matter about the meticulous planning – which you must do – the curve balls will be coming your way for sure.

There is always great anticipation on any location set with a large professional crew consisting of a photographer, lighting, hair and make-up, wardrobe and set styling people all waiting for the models to arrive.

For all the promises of great weather during this time of the year in the Cape of Good Hope, we had to contend with a few early morning rain showers on our first location in the shadow of Table Mountain. Our location hunter had found an amazing abandoned quarry entered via a well-hidden, long dark tunnel which eventually opens into a secluded area with a large pond in the centre.

Here we set up two of the key images – the dandelion and cliff shots – which we shot on different days. This location gave us full control of the environment without any curious onlookers or disruptions.

Early the next morning, we gathered at the Royal Cape Yacht Club to board a 42ft sailboat and cruise around an active volcano. We anchored just outside the breakwater where we found cover from a rather strong South Easterly threatening to disrupt our carefully planned schedule. However, it all worked out well for us and we got our shot! Fortunately the active volcano only became a real threat when we were in post-production.

The following day was spent on an estate in the shadow of Devil’s Peak, in the exclusive neighbourhood of Bishop’s Court. This is where we shot the iconic images of the Boston ballerina that bring grace, strength and serenity to a wild world.

Throughout the shoot, all crew members and models were a delight to work with. In these days of photoshopping and other visual trickery, it seems like this was a supreme effort to get the pictures we wanted but I believe the result is what sets Boston apart and it is as fresh and works just as well today as when we created it.

Terry van Rhyn, Ashgrove Marketing