by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) Brand owners and advertising people of the great southern bit of Africa, roll up, roll up — it’s that time of the year again! After choosing my favourite advert each week for close on 50 weeks, I now get to choose the crème de la crème, the pick of the bunch: the Ad of the Year!

Here, then, is the countdown of the top seven Ads of the Year for 2015. The top three will be revealed next week.

Looking back

In 2012, Nando’s reminded us all why South Africa is such a great country with its #25reasons campaign, and then came its diversity advert which used the brand’s trademark sense of humour to create a telling epiphany about what it means to be South African. Black River FC and the ever-incredible Nando’s won Ad of the Year back then for an ad classic that’s all about being distinctly human.

2013 saw me moved by the Absa ‘human spirit’ commercial, which I crowned as the best for that year.

It is emotionally difficult to remember 2014’s top ad because that was ‘won’ by a campaign that championed the cause of 19-year-old Capetonian, Jenna Lowe. The young organ-donation lobbyist passed away in June 2015, but her legacy lives on at the Jenna Lowe Trust. If you’re looking for a good cause to support this festive season, please consider supporting this trust, which works to raise awareness for pulmonary hypertension in South Africa.

As was the case in 2012, 2013 and 2014, choosing the top ad for 2015 has been no easy task this time around. We saw brilliant ads by some top local brands but thankfully editor and publisher Herman Manson (@marklives), together with editor-at-large Simone Puterman (@SimoneAtLarge) and consulting editor Mandy de Waal (@mandyldewaal), offered their thoughts on the top 10, and winning ad, which helped.

#10. Without 5 by King James II for 5FM

King James II got Egg Films’ Terence Neal to throw out the rulebook and make an ad ‘shooting from the hip’, so to speak. The ad is a study of how dance moves us, with a twist: for the first part of the ad, there is no music — and it’s quite amusing to see people dancing in silence. It’s only when it gets to the payoff line — ‘Without 5 it’s just you’ — that the music kicks in. Message delivered.


#9. Night Tour Shadows by Y&R South Africa for Johannesburg Zoo

How do you get kids excited about going to the zoo at night? Maybe it’s more about getting them so excited that even their parents get drawn into the idea. Y&R South Africa created four posters that were delivered to schools in the target demographic. The posters were blank, but had cutout/foldout sections. Once the foldouts had been folded out, each poster, when lit from below with a torch, revealed one of the nocturnal animals that could be seen and heard at the Johannesburg Zoo’s Moonlight and Night Tours.


#8. #TIA/This Is Africa by Ogilvy & Mather South Africa for DStv

This is our ‘wildcard’ finalist; it didn’t make it to Ad of the Week, simply because there weren’t enough weeks in the year. This incredibly edgy, deeply ironic look at what it means to be African must take the prize for originality. One example: the narrator says “They say we are always shooting each other!” with visuals of police and gangsters in a shootout… “Of course,” says the narrator, and the scene cuts wide to reveal that it’s actually a film shoot. It’s a beautifully filmed, creatively crafted piece of filmmaking, produced by Ogilvy & Mather South Africa.


#7. Tuluver by Utopia for BirdLife South Africa

Social media’s power was shown several times this year by innovative, imaginative agencies. Vulture Awareness Day was given heightened awareness by a ‘stunt’ that had BirdLife South Africa proclaiming that it had discovered a new species. The ‘tuluver’ was finally revealed to be a vulture that had been ‘beautified’ in Photoshop, in a clever campaign conceived by Utopia. The message was that if we can get this excited about a new bird species, why can’t we get excited about the prospect of losing one?


#6. Reins by Joe Public for Nedbank Business Banking

Nedbank, with the guidance of agency Joe Public, continues to keep it classy, with a great message in a story that’s beautifully shot and well-told. The TV ad draws an analogy between a business owner and a horse owner: both need an expert to guide them and take the next step in going from good to great, which is what Nedbank Business Banking does.


#5. #thedress by Ireland/Davenport for Salvation Army’s Carehaven

Ireland/Davenport: Salvation Army Women AbuseIreland/Davenport capitalised on the internet meme/phenomenon known as #thedress, whereby a poorly shot dress was seen by different people as either blue and black or cream and gold. The poster was produced to promote Salvation Army and its Carehaven shelter for abused women and their children. Playing on the wording, the poster creates a real ‘double take’ as one sees the curvaceous model in a cream and gold dress, with the wording, “Why is it so hard to see black and blue?” Looking closely, one spots the bruises on the model’s face and limbs, and the meaning becomes clear.


#4. #CelebrateDefender by Y&R South Africa for Land Rover

That venerable brand, Land Rover, has decided to discontinue one of its models, the Defender. It is also consolidating its advertising, making this a poignant swansong for Y&R South Africa. The dedicated microsite (, which invited lovers of the brand to contribute their stories to create an interactive ‘photo album’, is a fitting tribute to this stalwart of the great outdoors.


Well done to the winners, and be sure to tune in next week, when we announce our Top 3 — and the big no. 1 mucho grande #AdoftheYear.


Oresti PatriciosAd of the Week, published on MarkLives every Wednesday, is penned by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki), the CEO of Ornico, a Brand Intelligence® firm that focuses on media, reputation and brand research. If you are involved in making advertising that is smart, funny and/or engaging, please let Oresti know about it at



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