South African Advertising Needs A Gillette Moment.

Context: Gillette recently released an ad/TV campaign that challenges men to reflect on their toxic masculinity and to therefore think differently about themselves in the man’s world. The spot drew contrasting reactions and opinions from multiple stakeholders. The ad is perfectly polarising for our current times. Why is it polarising?

Some call it inauthentic or opportunistic as they waited this long to try and take advantage of the #MeToo movement. That they are just trying to make money from this.

Some refer to the complainants as fragile white males who are just toxic and are suffering from fragile masculinity. Either way, this has had the people going, which is great for advertising because as always say, brands have a bigger role to play than just being on retail shelves and online.

Advert: Gillette: ‘We Believe: The Best Men Can Be

Generally, our ads here in South Africa are so vanilla, weak, or just okay. Of course, there are a few gems here and there, but generally, the standard is too low. So low that okay work become good work, and good work is converted into great work, but of course, truly great work is quite rare.

Is there a South African campaign that blew everyone out the water at the Cannes Festival? Like really make the world stop and take notice? The one campaign that probably came close was Carling Black Label’s Be The Coach.

Carling Black Label: Be The Coach

Do Ads/Campaigns Rely Too Much On Media And Not The Idea?

Mostly, ads rely on media spend, i.e.: frequency, and not ideas in on of themselves. Most campaigns get “bought traction”, people seeing the ads on TV or social media. If most campaigns didn’t have money, we’d quickly forget about them. Makes you wonder, do most campaigns and ads rely on media or the ideas? Meaning, are the ideas strong enough to travel around the globe or even around the country through earned media?

To date, when I wrote this article, total YouTube views for the Gillette TV advert stood at 5.4 million.

Some people may argue that even campaigns that trend are bought, because all digital content requires some spend. I’m not sure about that, but what I do know, is that the campaign didn’t reach me through planned media, it came my ways through excitement and recommendation, meaning, people were talking about it.

The truth is, not all campaigns are the same, some are greater and more memorable than others. My question is, why aren’t there more great campaigns out there.

Lesedi speaking about the quality of creative in SA advertising

What is true, is that for campaigns to be great, the idea needs to be bigger than the channel; whether is TV, radio, OOH or digital.

Even wondered why people generally dislike ads? Because they are boring and they add no value. Ads are annoying. If ads are annoying that means most brands are annoying. Who can change all of that?

Clients must unlock the doors to great creative work

Who is going to give us a Gillette moment? Which brand? Which client? The biggest gatekeepers to great work that moves mountains are clients.

Clients always ask agencies to blow them away, and when great work gets presented, clients gets shy. Equally, sometimes, clients give agencies leeway to actually blow them away, but then agencies fail to do so.

Great work doesn’t come from one side only

Even though agencies usually get all the credit, truth is, great work is through a multi-party consensus, there has to be a unanimous buy-in. So great work requires everybody involved to believe, even when there’s uncertainty.

So true the above, Burger King CMO says that most of the amazing work that they do, most of the time, they don’t know how they are going to execute it. For them, that signals less or un-travelled territories. Which provides an opportunity to create work that is great and can therefore travel globally.

Some examples of great work:

Always – Like A Girl

Burger King – Scary Clown Night

Volvo – Interception

Which South African campaign do you believe was great, like the example given above? My personal favourite, but unfortunately got banned, is the SABC 1, ‘Reversed Roles’ / ‘Racial Perspective’ TVC, otherwise affectionately known as the ‘SABC 1 banned TV advert’.

“This awards (advertising awards) thing has become silly” – Pepe Marais, Chief Cretive Officer (CCO), Joe Public

Pepe Marais, who is the Founder/CCO of Joe Public, says that we need to shift from making or creating work for awards the mean nothing in the grand scheme of things (silly); to creating work that has impact.

I guess the day we stop creating work for awards, is the day we will start creating work that matters.

SABC 1: Banned TV Advert

PS: One piece of communication that has had an impact globally has to be The Street Store by M&C Saatchi. Since its debut, the concept has been replicated by other countries. Great ideas are sought after and are stolen with pride. I yearn for a South African piece of communication or project that not just tries to sell stuff, but impacts the world.

Street store by M&C Saatchi

Worth a mention:

A campaign worth a mention is the VW ft. Nomuzi aka Moozli. The campaign sought to drive (pun intended) the message home about drinking and driving.

In a country where people lose their lives due to drunk driving, and with so many campaigns that had been done, the message was falling on deaf ears. The “Don’t drink and drive” message had become all too familiar and therefore lost its impact. VW decided to make the message real by document Nomuzi’s day through social media, showing her reckless behaviour in the most organic or natural way possible.

When the accident happened, those who were online panicked. It got real. Everyone thought that she had been in a real accident, that means, the feelings and emotions that people felt were also real, the message hit home. What makes this piece of content truly exciting and great is the fact that, what people felt when they experienced the whole thing is exactly how they would feel had it been real. This was not an advertising campaign, it was real life. Now everyone knows the ripple effect of drinking and driving.

Thank you for reading, leave comments below and share your opinions and thoughts.

Please share if you liked the piece.

LinkedIn: Bogosi Motshegwa

Twitter: @Thinkerneur

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