MarkLives Ad of the Week with Oresti Patricios – A ‘lekker’ local campaign with wings


Kulula continues its tradition of cheeky, humorous and thoroughly South African commercials, this time with a print ad that introduces the livery on the airline’s new fleet of Boeing 737-800s (and takes an indirect swipe at the national carrier).

The full colour print ad, launched on Sunday 03 March 2013 in the Sunday Times, shows a new Boeing , with livery proudly displaying the South African flag on the tail, and the bold new slogan “The Most South African Airways” on the side. Kulula has been careful not to mimic the font or the exact tail design of SAA planes, thus avoiding any potential legal trademark issues.

Known for their irreverent, comedic approach to marketing and getting their customers to chortle at the airline’s whacky in-flight announcements and edgy viral marketing, succeeds in resonating with locals by being as South African as braaivleis, Shosholoza and vuvuzelas. The latest ad (which uses ‘South Africanisms’ like ‘super-stoked’ and ‘awesome’) which introduces the airline’s new slogan underscores Kulula’s patriotic brand positioning.

“We thought long and hard about a slogan that truly represents who we are as an airline and communicates our passion for South African travel, and this was the most fitting. We are proud of it and are sure it will be well received by our fans,” said Nadine Damen, Marketing Manager of

I’m not so sure it will be that well received by SAA, who are currently facing a High Court challenge from Comair (’s parent company), against a proposed R5bn ‘bail out’ by the government. But then the green airline with the great sense of humour are not shy of controversy.

In 2010, raised the ire of Fifa during the world’s biggest soccer extravaganza with an ambush campaign that positioned the airline as the “Unofficial Carrier of the You-Know-What”. Kulula were forced withdraw these hilarious ads due to Fifa’s tight control and ‘ownership’ of the 2010 World Cup brand and everything that went with it. No problem for Kulula, they just changed the ads and their agency (King James) came up with an even funnier ad offering free flights to anyone (legally) named Sepp Blatter. The campaign got massive coverage in the media and on social networks, and locals loved the rebellious nature of the ads.

This time round has again embraced social media to drive brand loyalty. The latest ad follows on thematically from’s January Facebook campaign, “The Most South African Flight Ever,” which packed a cross-section of unique South Africans, all nominated by Facebook fans, into a flight from Lanseria to … Lanseria.

The joyride included entertainment from Jack Parrow and gumboot dancers, a choir singing the anthem on take-off, and goodie bags containing famous SA brands like Zambuk and Ouma rusks. As a PR exercise, it seems to have worked really well, judging by the buzz it created on Facebook and Twitter, and the positive feedback it generated, even from those who didn’t make it onto the passenger list. The campaign got loads of publicity with pictures and write ups of the ‘historically’ local flight in the news media.

It’s a good tack to take. Although our government is mired in corruption and inefficiency, we South Africans are a patriotic bunch, especially when it comes to our lifestyle. And we support the underdog; so the David of standing up to the SAA giant, especially when it helps us travel for less – well, we’re all for it.

Humour in advertising is tricky. You risk some people not ‘getting’ the joke or finding it offensive – either way it can undermine your credibility. Taking hundreds of people in a metal tube 30,000 feet into the air and delivering them safely to their destination might not be a laughing matter, but seems to have always struck the right balance between levity and trustworthiness.

With help from their friends at King James, Kulula consistently delivers a service that offers real value while it builds a brand that South Africans really love.

Ad of the Week is published on MarkLives every Wednesday. See past selections here.
Oresti Patricios is the CEO of brand and reputation analysis company Ornico.

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Published by Herman Manson is edited by Herman Manson. Follow us on Twitter -

2 replies on “Ad of the week with Oresti Patricios – A ‘lekker’ local campaign with wings”

  1. Unfortunately they also have a comic approach to customer service. Which is not so funny.

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