by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) A healthy dose of nostalgia and a good shot of emotion are the ingredients for the latest Ad of The Week, the TVC for Ace Instant Porridge. The ad also offers interesting insight into the real world of people who eat a morning staple.

I’m talking about maize, of course, and the millions of people who eat this food across our continent. Some 42.2m metric tons of maize are consumed in Africa each year, of which South Africans chomp up some 5.21m metric tons. (A metric ton — just in case you don’t know — is 1000kg.)

Consumer benefits

Ace Maize Meal is one of the larger maize brands in South Africa, and falls under the umbrella of the Tiger Brands group. Given how much time it takes for people to travel to work and school each day, saving people time and energy are major consumer benefits and this makes instant porridge an important addition to the Ace range. Just add hot or cold milk or water, and voila — breakfast!

This brand benefit is charmingly and sensitively portrayed in a TV commercial produced by Bomb Commercials for TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris under the direction of Teboho Mahlatsi. The result is an ad for Ace — “a taste of Mum’s love” — that speaks to the heart.

Ritual of food

Ace Instant Porridge: A Taste of Mum's Love TVC screengrab 01 Ace Instant Porridge: A Taste of Mum's Love TVC screengrab 02The story starts with a young boy named Thabo who is getting ready for school; we see the young lad dressing himself, and putting on his tie. At the breakfast table his porridge is ready and waiting for him, alongside a note that reads: “I love you — Mama.”

If, like Thabo, you’ve had a caring mother, you’ll know that food is an important ritual that parents use to demonstrate their love and caring. Thabo smiles because he knows he’s getting a good meal before setting off for school.

The journey to school is eventful: Thabo must run past barking dogs, cross busy streets, and squeeze himself into a taxi between two large ladies. At his destination, he steps in a puddle and has to run to make it in time for assembly.

At school, the young boy gets picked on by some of the other kids, but he perseveres and is rewarded with praise from his teacher. Back home in the afternoon, Thabo is seen laying the table with a bowl, spoon, milk and the pack of Ace Instant porridge.

Working-class reality

Ace Instant Porridge: A Taste of Mum's Love TVC screengrab 07 Ace Instant Porridge: A Taste of Mum's Love TVC screengrab 08 Ace Instant Porridge: A Taste of Mum's Love TVC screengrab 09The reality for many working class children is portrayed in the subtext of this story. One never sees Thabo together with his mother. Time poverty is a concept that many people have to contend with because of the long distances they have to travel between work and home; or because of poor transport systems such as SA’s MetroRail which is notoriously unreliable. In working-class SA, many parents don’t have much quality time to spend with their children, especially during the week.

So it’s with a lump in the throat that one watches Thabo’s mother arrive home when it’s already dark. He’s asleep in bed. But in the kitchen, ‘Mama’ finds a place laid for her at the table with the note that reads: “I love you — Thabo.”

Mum then spots the schoolwork that Thabo has left out for her to see — a maths exercise that bears a gold star. She smiles proudly.

The pack shot of Ace Instant Porridge is accompanied by the simple slogan, “Start their day with a mother’s love.”

The ad is beautifully shot, especially the morning sequences that capture the mood of the township and the school. Little Thabo is well-cast. He’s got a face that is expressive and heart-warming. The soundtrack is minimalistic: spot-effects bound together with a gentle piano theme. Overall, the ad plays on a nostalgia for school days and childhood, while aligning the brand with a sympathetic view of working-class family life that strongly supports Ace’s brand positioning: “Ace, a taste of Mum’s love”.

What’s beautiful about the ad is that it quietly teaches about the love you give and get, about how the best love is tangible and demonstrated by actions. But what makes it a winner is that it’s a simple but powerful story about the people who are the backbone of our economy, and the youth who own our tomorrow.

Thanks, TBWA, Bomb and Ace, for this gem!

Roll credits:

Agency: TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris
Client: Tiger Brands
Product: Ace Instant Porridge
Production company: Bomb Commercials
Director: Teboho Mahlatsi


Oresti Patricios


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


— MarkLives’ round-up of top ad and media industry news and opinion in your mailbox every Monday and Thursday. Sign up here!

Online CPD Courses Psychology Online CPD Courses Marketing analytics software Marketing analytics software for small business Business management software Business accounting software Gearbox repair company Makeup artist