by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) Owen Kessel Leo Burnett and Amstel Lager recently teamed up to create a moment of magic for one loyal AKA fan.

Just in case you’re not into the local hip-hop scene, AKA is a top South African rapper, who in 2015 won Best International Act (African) at the Europe Music Awards, and Best International Act (Africa) at the MOBO Awards. AKA has been performing since 2002, initially as part of a group, but from 2009 as a solo artist. In that same year, the hip-hop artist rocketed to fame when he made it to no. 1 in the 5FM charts and was honoured at the Metro FM Music Awards for “Best Newcomer”, “Best Hip Hop” as a solo act and “Best Produced Album” for his debut Altar Ego.

But let’s get back to that clever beer brand, shall we? As with most beers which want to capture the youth market, Amstel is looking for relevance in a younger market. The older set [like me] is very au fait with this lager that originally hails from Holland but, to give it cred, Amstel and the fine folk from Owen Kessel Leo Burnett have tied in with popular cultural icon, AKA, for a promotional event.

Personal connection

But instead of settling for the standard celebrity endorsement type of promotion, Owen Kessel Leo Burnett created a personal connection between the brand, its fans and the pop icon. The idea? To get a young AKA fan to meet his hero in the flesh, so to speak — but in a most surprising way.

If you spend any time on YouTube, you will no doubt have come across a trend in home productions where people play pranks upon each other, or unsuspecting members of the public. This harks back to slap-stick comedy and those early reality-type TV programmess shot in a ‘Candid Camera’ format. Pioneered in the ’40s in the US, Candid Camera was a very successful practical-joke reality series with hidden cameras that ran for decades. This formula is still immensely popular today but, in the quest for YouTube views, pranksters often push boundaries. The hidden camera jokes have become more absurd and cruel: scatological gags, people faking suicide and worse.

But that’s not clearly the case here. What makes this ‘prank’ work is that it’s a major win for the recipient who is incredibly well cast — he’s such a loveable guy, he really becomes the star of this spot.

With the collusion of his friends, the unsuspecting fan is lured to a karaoke evening, where he and his mates enjoy a few Amstels and watch everyone trying to perform their fav songs. Then our hero is persuaded to take to the stage, and (of course) he chooses an AKA song to perform.

No sooner is he up on stage, than a crowd swarms onto the dance-floor. Photographers start flashing, and the fan is clearly getting into the idea of being a rock star. In the middle of the chorus, two B-girls (hip-hop dancers) join him. Surprised, but undeterred, he carries on singing. Then, the big moment: the rap section of the song begins, and a curtain opens behind him, to reveal AKA. For a couple of lines, the ‘victim’ doesn’t realise what’s going on, that his-hip hop hero is singing behind him. But then he turns and does a double-take that is simply classic. At first he tries to leave the stage, but AKA gestures to him to come back, and they complete the song together.

Kinder, more inclusive

This is a kinder, more-inclusive version of a candid-camera prank because the ‘victim’ gets a great surprise that he’ll never forget, and this warms the hearts of whomever watches this promotional spot on YouTube.

What about the younger market? Well, the Amstel brand is now indelibly linked with that very popular youth icon, AKA.

What makes this video so appealing is that the ‘victim’/fan seems to be such a nice guy. The smile that appears on his face when the dancers first join him is surpassed only by the look of incredulity on his face when he turns to see AKA. “Pinch me, I must be dreaming,” he seems to be thinking. He’s just the kind of guy you’d love to take for a beer.

As part of a wider campaign to promote the brand in a younger market, this event shows that Owen Kessel Leo Burnett knows how to hit the ‘sweet spot’ with a market segment that’s difficult to connect with. Well done, you clever, clever people!


Director: Daron Chatz
Executive creative director: Donovan Bryan
Creative director: Jared Kushner
Art director: Richard Thompson
Copywriter: Jonathan Dennis
Agency producer: Leigh-Anne Harris


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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