MarkLives Ad of the Week with Oresti Patricios – When Vampires Attack!

tabart Dracula

tabart vlad

tabart Nosferatu

We’ve passed the winter solstice, which means that summer is not too far off. For most South Africans it’s the season of fun in the sun. There’s so much to look forward to: longer daylight hours, braais, swimming… and then there’s the mosquitoes. Well, everything good must have a downside, or so they say.

But the reality is that those whiney bloodsucking vampires are incredibly annoying! Somehow they always find the most annoying place to bite me – like on my knuckle, my ear or my elbow. The worst part, though, is the whining sound as they start to dive-bomb, about twenty minutes after I turn out the light… or just as I’m about to drift off to sleep.

Tabard has established itself very solidly over the years as a household name in South Africa, and several other African countries, due in part to its easy application and not-too-unpleasant scent. But mostly because of its effective ability to banish the blood-sucking scourge that’s the mosquito.

Given that that the Tabard brand is familiar and well entrenched – owners the Acorn Group say it is Africa’s “most trusted insect repellent” – what’s important to the brand is that it remains relevant.

To this end, Tabard is launching an artful yet playful print campaign, just in time for the summer onslaught. Featuring three famous vampire characters, the principally black-and-white pictures play with size and perspective, portraying the bloodthirsty vampires as pilots of tiny aeroplanes, looking down on their targets: people in bed, on a couch or at a campfire. The slogan reads: “Because you never know who’s up there.”

It all has a delightfully spooky, Tim Burton-esque quality, with the illustrations done mainly in black-and-white: the only spots of colour are the red of the Tabard pack, matching up with the blood-crazed eyes of the vampires. The black-and-white is also an homage to the vampire movie genre, which harks back to the pre-Technicolor era, much as Coppola reverted to black-and-white when he produced his 1992 version.

The artworks are impeccable: first we have the classic Bela Lugosi, complete with cape and tuxedo, then we have the gothic Werner Herzog interpretation of Nosferatu, he of the icky long nails and pointy overbite, and finally the more modern, 1992 version as played by Gary Oldman, with his top hat and Victorian sunglasses, courtesy of Francis Ford Coppola. That was probably the last great Dracula movie: everything since then has either been a spoof (Dead and Loving it) or a tacky imitation. Then of course, there were the sparkly Twilight vampires, but the less said of those, the better.

I think what makes this series of ads work is that it lets the art speak for itself. Unlike other mosquito repellent ads, there is no overt reference to a mosquito. It’s a visual pun, which not only gives you an ‘aha’ moment, but also a giggle as you recognise the different ‘faces’ of Dracula. The campaign relies on the brand-recognition that Tabard enjoys in South Africa, and so the ads don’t need to make any USP-type claims or promises. What they do is reinforce the brand and raise its profile, ensuring its place as a market leader.

The ad is the brainchild of Volcano, which claims to bring together the “art and science” of  TTL advertising, design, branding, brand insights, brand strategy, digital, media strategy, public relations, promotions and events. This eye-catching campaign does them proud, and although I presume they will be placing in the usual consumer channels, I think it would be wise to support the campaign with some clever in-store placement – because it’s one of those products that you probably forget to put on the shopping-list, but naturally grab when you spot it.

The illustrator of this striking campaign, Gabby Correia, is a relative newcomer to the world of advertising, having cut her teeth in custom illustrating. Volcano’s two creative directors, Francois Boshoff and Glen Jeffrey, share the CD credits, and Art Direction credit also goes to Boshoff.

Funny, effective, powerful… a perfect print campaign. Well done to Tabard and its agency Volcano for a horror-ifically great series of ads.

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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