They say nothing tells an interesting story about a country's economic growth and overall psyche like the commercials on television, radio, newspapers and magazines. Forget the billboards. That is why internet sites like absolutelyandy attract so many visitors who want to know what's going on in the United Kingdom. Commercials, by their very nature are created to target a specific market with money to spend, otherwise it's broken down into what they call LSMs and niches within the LSMs. No wonder the buzzword these days is on-line advertising (the Google ads you see on this blog) which is projected to tremble in the next two years. Why? Because someone told media buyers and advertising executives that anyone who can flick a mouse and double click Internet Explorer has money to spend because the superhighway of information is not free access. With Telkom, it's a million times more expensive.
Speaking of commercials, one can not help but realise that adverts on South African television are slowly drifting away from our reality. We are left wondering who are the creatives and copyrighters thinking about when they conceptualise some of the flops on our television screens. A good ad shouldn't encourage a viewer to flick the remote controller to check what's on the other channel. Here are a few examples of good and bad ones;
Do you remember the old Sunlight bath soap ad where a woman in a bathtub was singing jovially only to be interrupted by her toddler daughter who laughs naughtily, drawing the same reaction from the mother? Now, rewind a little and remember the white version of it whereby a white woman is this time interrupted by her husband?
Complaints compounded the ad since race consious critics implied that it simply smirked of racism and stereotyping of blacks and their family make-up. "It actually says black women are single parents while whites are all married, why can't we have a white kid interrupting the mother and a black man interrupting the woman if that was not the message told?", they asked.
Okay, this here is South Afrika and such analysis should be expected because it actually means nothing apart from saying the country is made up of 45 million intellectuals.
However down the years such inflammatory issues have been addressed with good crisp adverts that reflect the mood in the country at any given time. Castle Lager has always managed to churn out excellent camaraderie ads that, even though they might be racial diversity wish-wash, still manage to maintain a level of intelligence. You can tell from the delivery that they are ads made by intelligent people for perceived intelligent viewers. The moral of all beer ads; beer is something you drink at the end of a hard working day, not a beverage you start the day with.
The one that works brilliantly without stereotyping is the Grand-Pa ad with the taxi driver. The dude surely looks like the drivers we meet everyday and the message works well there. Even though there are those who are critical of it saying the taxi driver says, 'I can't stop, I'm busy' but is seen on the ad having stopped. One can't help but guess that taxi operators must have felt well-represented and boosted Grand-Pa's bottom line since the ad talks to them. It is the same thing usually done with doctors and Panado. No one can tell if doctors really believe in the painkiller but we think so.
Whoever told the Maq washing powder marketers that innuendo sells has misled them. Who in their right mind will find humour in a bunch of people in a taxi driving along a typical township where a woman is doing washing with Maq, and who all have a set of sunglasses to shield them from the brightness of Maq? Whoever conceived the ad needs a shrink, the message is lost.
Another stereotyping ad is the Chinese/ Korean or Japanese in Mellow Wood brandy. What are they trying to say about Oriental culture and brandy? Why a slit-eyed old man and not a Yankee or Brit? I mean given the jokes about drunken Chinese people. And that Shield deodorant one which features a Chinese family and some karate. I find them not funny because the Chinese these days are busy building bridges, dams and stadia, not going to remote mountains to fight.
Do you still that other stupid one which also featured Chinese and the words, 'where's the formula? Tell me, where's the formula?'. Only for a woman on a gym bike to expose the formula after working up a sweat. I was Shield as well. Whatever they have against the Chinese.
Remember the Audi "beating the bends", which actually was innuendo for "beating the Benz"? (Quite interesting the Audi folks took their car to where the Benz failed to beat the bends). That was intelligent and provocative, something last seen with the Mercedes Benz that capsized at Chapman's Peak but remained intact because of its reinforced roof. (Yeah, that's the one Audi chopped to good use). Soon Armstrong shock absorbers was out using the same Chapman's Peak's rock falls to insinuate that any car with their shock absorbers would have made it past the bends. Castle Lager as well used Chapman's Peak about a bunch of men who were given a contract to stop a mountain from falling. Those men resembed the early days of Black Economic Empowerment, or what BEE was supposed to be if the greedy sods with party membership cards did not mess it up to convert in into Black Elite Elevated.
Thumbs down to the Frisco ad whereby the mother keeps on sending a young boy to ask for coffee from the neighbours. Someone needs to understand that black people will ask for sugar, tea bags, salt and mealie meal but not coffee. Coffee is a luxury, which suggests the copyrighters did not do much research about kasie living. It is the same thing with the boy who carries Sunlight liquid in a teaspoon from neighbours, not funny.
Same booing goes to the AVBOB ad where young children come to a funeral for a free bite. Where in hell's name could African children be encouraged to feast at such an event? Research is important to make sure that even if we take our ads overseas, they tell an accurate story about us.


  1. very good blog, congratulations
    regard from Catalonia Spain
    thank you

  2. Anonymous4/18/2009

    Kak blog. Another whiny niche market attempt


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