Taking Flight: Africa on Pick n Pay’s tongue-in-cheek Xmas ad
by Remon Geyser (@remongeyser) Christmas season — a happy, cheerful and dream-filled time. Or is it? We kick the year off with Pick n Pay and King James II’s “Chapter One — Let’s go on holiday” execution, a more-realistic take on the holiday period that highlights everything that normally goes wrong and that was MarkLives Ad of the Week late November 2016. From the beautiful music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo to forgetting to put on sunblock and tollgates not accepting cards, let’s see how this TVC would do in in other parts of Africa.
We asked our marketing, creative and advertising professionals in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria for their take on this execution. Here are their first thoughts:
Mostly positive but, surprisingly, there are just as many that are negative. Clearly, PnP was successful in showcasing those little irritations we have when going on holiday. Is this a good or bad thing for the brand, though? Let’s find out…
The panel was ultimately conflicted as it portrays real life with an element of dark humour, while bringing up the Christmas cheer. When probing further on these emotions, it became clear that the panel was split on if this was a good or bad thing for the brand. The TVC did a great job in highlighting the happiness, cheer and excitement of going on holiday. The music created the mood of Christmas extremely well, which worked extremely well for the brand to convey the message of “it’s Christmas time”. However, the characters and their facial expressions, albeit done brilliantly, create a mood that is sad, gloomy and just dampens the holiday spirit. This, in turn, could hurt the brand, as people do not want to be miserable when shopping, especially in other African countries. People want a happy experience; it needs to be a joyful outing. This makes us realise that, even though this ad is a real hit here in South Africa, we need to be careful with our humour when it comes to going further north.
The music was a real hit for our Pan African panellists. Even though the music will assist in brand recall, very few had heard of Ladysmith Black Mambazo (LBM) and saw them as an acapella group. This is actually a good thing, as the focus was more on the brand, and what it’s trying to achieve, than on LBM. Those that did recognise them also thought that it was a great idea to have the collaboration as it gives more credibility to the brand.
The biggest misfire in the TVC is that it fails to convey the link with the brand. The panellists didn’t know what the purpose of the ad was: Was the brand trying to sell something? Was the brand asking consumers to shop there? Or was it just a message for the holidays? And, because of the humour, they weren’t sure what that message for the holidays would be. The scenarios are also very South African and many of our panellists didn’t feel that they could relate, eg sunburn is a foreign concept.
This TVC has the potential to be a real hit in Ghana while our professionals in Nigeria and Kenya feel that, in its current state, it would not land well. Throughout the region, the highest measure was “realistic” and the lowest “authenticity”. This is low because our panel felt that showcasing the happy holidays in this way is inauthentic, although very realistic; Nigerians, in particular, see the holidays as “happy, energetic and full of good tidings”. There is something about not always wanting to be confronted with reality, especially during holiday times. People want to forget their sorrows, and this is the one time you can be assured of happiness — this is the Christmas spirit, after all!
The “pa-rum-pum-pum-pum”, although very catchy, feels forced and also contributes to the lack of authenticity.
Brand recall should be high in Ghana, with our professionals being confident that it would cut through the clutter. There are not a lot of ads with this type of “classy simplicity”, which would assist with this. The target market for this TVC is middle-upper income bracket consumers, who are well educated. They are adults between the ages of 26–60, who are early adopters, aspirational, most likely online shoppers and tech-savvy. More importantly, they are merrymakers and holiday-goers. This TVC, however, is not very persuasive, as the call-to-action is missing.
There are moderate modifications needed for Kenya and Nigeria, and slight changes for Ghana. The two main things that would need to done are to make the brand play a more-integral role in the TVC and make the ad end more positively. One of the panellists suggested to include a twist between the middle and the end of the story (the twist could show how much hidden fun and amusement the holidays have in store for you, your family and friends when you buy something at Pick n Pay to spice up the season). Lastly, scenes that are more relatable to said countries should be included.
We are once again reminded that South African humour will not necessarily work across. When launching campaigns in other countries, we need to ensure that the story has local relevance and that consumers are able to relate to what we are communicating. Christmas messaging may work well but we need to be cognisant of the tone that we set and that it needs to live up to the Christmas spirit — warm, fuzzy, light-hearted and positive.
Remon Geyser (@remongeyser) is a burger fanatic, wine connoisseur and eSports enthusiast (yes, a fancy term for playing computer games). He is also co-founder of delvv.io, heading up research, operations, product and culture. delvv.io provides creative expert feedback anywhere in Africa, in order to rock marketing ROI. Remon contributes the new monthly “Taking Flight” column, which provides Pan-African feedback on South African ads for other markets, to MarkLives.com.