Ad of the Week: Man, oh man!
by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) If you write “LOL”, are you still a man? Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg and Produce Sound‘s radio ads for KFC test some of the preconceptions of what it is to be a man. The result is a laugh-out-loud exchange between self-conscious, ‘sensitive’ men and the ad’s ‘manly’ voice of reassurance.
Gender and sexuality are loaded subjects. Yet both are very human issues that easily lend themselves to humour and satire. We humans do really funny things, which is why cracking gags about sex, men and women can work… if you have the sensitivity and insight to do it right.
Ogilvy Joburg has hit the hammer on the funny bone with the agency’s latest series of radio spots for KFC, to market what’s called the “Everyman Meal”. Why is it called Everyman? Because not every male sees himself as a ‘man’s man’.
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The era of the ‘metrosexual’ has broadened the definition of what it means to be male, but a lot of mainstream advertising media still presents the image of commercial man as stereotypically strong and macho. This campaign pokes fun at that stereotype, while still using the stereotype in the ad itself. This lends a dimension of irony which edges it into territory where it’s up with the best, where it becomes world-class.
The humour is created by the wonderful characterisations performed by a whole host of men, some with rather — ahem — ‘unmanly’ habits and hobbies. Playing off against this is the rather decidedly ‘manly’ voice of James Alexander, who delivers a suitably warm and encouraging tone as the backbone character of the radio commercial. A gentle, almost romantic, piano theme creates a faux mood of sensitivity and calm that is pure theatre.
Each spot features several male characters, who confess to their ‘shamefully’ ‘unmanly’ pursuits. “I Pinterest,” declares one. “I don’t know what the claw thing on the back of a hammer is for,” admits another. “I perm my hair,” says another. In reply to all these, the deep, macho voice answers with reassurances, like “You’re still a man.” Or just, “Man.”
“My nipples are sensitive,” says one man.
“Mine too, Man,” replies The Voice.
There are also some short exchanges, such as this one:
Man: “Children call me ‘Ma’am’.”
The Voice: “You’re a man.”
Man: “Er, Did you say ‘Ma’am’?”
The Voice: “No, ‘man’.”
Man: “Man, right? you said ‘Man’?”
The Voice: “Correct.”
Common payoff line, unique punchline
The spots are all 55-seconds long, and they end with the common payoff line, by The Voice: “The KFC Fully Loaded Man Meal. For every kind of man.” Then there is a punchline after this, a different one for each. In one ad, one of the men is heard asking: “Pinky promise?” To which The Voice replies: “Yes, I pinky promise.”
The humour in this series of radio ads is the script, but the various voices and the delivery of the mini-dramas are simply brilliant. The execution of this campaign is exceptional.
The main male voice has just the right balance of so-called ‘manliness’, but has enough sensitivity to be thoroughly convincing and engaging. And the different characters each bring something unique to their dialogue, so there is never a moment of disconnect.
The commercial is unbelievably tight — the kind of thing you’d expect from the best kind of radio. It’s no wonder this campaign won the Radio Grand Prix at the recent Cannes International Festival of Creativity, as well as a D&AD Yellow Pencil Award for Radio.
So for all those men with hairstyle reference folders on their phones, or those with neat Tupperware cupboards (with all the lids), there is hope. You can get a Fully Loaded Everyman Meal without so much as a twinge of embarrassment. Why the hell not?
Go ahead, man… you know you want to.
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg
Chief creative officer: Pete Case
Executive creative director: Mariana O’Kelly
Creative director: Molefi Thulo
Art director: Tammy Retter
Copywriter: David Krueger
Radio producer: Alison Ross
Working with KFC brand directors: Mike Middleton, Thabisa Mkhwanazi
Production: Produce Sound
Sound engineers: Louis Enslin, Theo Potgieter
Principal voiceover artist: James Alexander
Ad 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.