by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) Concentration is a challenge for most people. Sometimes, you just get into “the zone”, and that’s great, but too often there are distractions that prevent the single-minded focus that’s required to get the job done. The latest ad from Allan Gray, “Distraction is the Enemy”, is a refreshing departure in style from previous ads from the financial services company, produced by ad agency KingJames.

In 2009, the same agency produced “Legend” for Allan Gray, an epic commercial that asked viewers to imagine what a legend such as James Dean could have achieved if he had not died at 24: ‘Given more time, imagine the possibilities’. A potent message that hit home the importance of the time factor in investment.

KingJames TVC for Allan Gray: “Distraction is the Enemy”

The news to know about Allan Gray (the person, not the investment company) is, of course, that the founder of this country’s largest privately owned and eponymous asset manager has made it onto the African Ventures rich list, as reported by Moneyweb.

It is publicity-shy Gray’s debut on the list, and he has an estimated wealth of US$8.5 billion (R85 billion) according to African Ventures, which puts him in the ranks of the local über wealthy, who include Christo Wiese, Nicky Oppenheimer and Johann Rupert.

Much lighter tone

But back to the marketing. This ad has a much lighter tone, as it takes place in a surreal world where all the distractions of life are animated and made hyper-real.

The protagonist, a professional-looking man in shirt and tie, is running up a city street. At an intersection, he sees another ‘suit’ being chased by his buddies in golf-carts, begging him to come and play. Then our hero spins around and we see what he’s been running from: some of his own buddies, pushing a pool table, begging him to play.

He runs past a department-store window, where a group of people are watching a video of a cat in a paper bag. He is almost distracted, but his buddies are closing in on him.

At a busy intersection, he watches a woman texting on a mobile phone while crossing the street, totally oblivious to the carnage that she is causing in the traffic.

Allan Gray: "Distraction is the Enemy"Ironic counterbalance

The soundtrack is Nina Simone’s version of a gospel standard, “Sinner Man” — with the lyrics, ‘Oh sinner man, where you gonna run to?’ — it’s an ironic counterbalance to the frenzy of all the people dashing in different directions, trying to escape their distractions.

Our hero passes a man who is being accosted by a life-sized ice-cream cone and a hotdog, and women who are swarming towards a store that’s having a sale. Finally, he arrives at a location where a video game is taking place, but in the real world: a young guy is shooting at giant robots and flying machines that swoop down across the highway.

Taking refuge in an alleyway, he comes across a lady who is also ‘on the run’. As his buddies charge past with the snooker table, he shrugs and says, “Boys’ night out.”

She replies, “Cute boss.”

Succinct and to the point

The payoff line is ‘Distractions are a part of life. But never part of our investment philosophy.’ Succinct and to the point: we like to think that our money is being managed by people who are always focused on the task of making it grow.

Previous Allan Gray ads were directed by the legendary Keith Rose of Velocity Films. This one is ably helmed by Greg Gray (also of Velocity), and it retains the now iconic black-and-white aesthetic from before. B&W can sometimes seem stark but, in this instance, it works as a way of underlining the surrealism of the piece.

An original idea, well-executed, that delivers a strong, on-point message — King James and Velocity Films kill it in this one for a brand that, it appears, is doing all the right things. As reported by IOL, the latest PlexCrown Fund ratings show Alan Gray knocked Coronation off its pedestal to become the this country’s top fund manager in a survey by the ratings agency that ranks fund management companies on consistent performance.

A solid performance all around!

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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