by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) FCB Joburg and directors Bryan van Niekerk and Asher Stoltz (Team Best) and Ian Difford (Hungry Films) get the nod this week for the brilliant character they have created for Wimpy, and for keeping one of South Africa’s favourite fast-food brands local and lekker.

Wimpy is as Mzansi as Kwesta, braaivleis, Generations, Dolosse and Oppikoppi. This proves what a great job the burger (and meaty grills) brand has done of making itself part and parcel of local fabric. It might surprise you then, to discover that Wimpy was named after Popeye’s burger-guzzling friend and was an international brand when it was first brought to Durban in 1967. Wimpy was acquired by Pleasure Foods in 2003, and then by Famous Brands in 2007, which has done a terrific job making this brand truly South African. Because of great marketing, backed by consistently good food (in fast-food terms) and innovation (remember when Wimpy fell in love with coffee?), the brand has weathered the onslaught of McDonald’s and others well.

Fast-food home to SA’s family

The ‘South African family restaurant’ image that Wimpy now espouses gives the brand its uniqueness. Wimpy isn’t a steakhouse and it certainly isn’t a casual American-style diner. It’s the fast-food home to South Africa’s family, an idea that features strongly in the brand’s latest advertising campaign, created by FCB Johannesburg.

Pinterest icon View all the Ads of the Week at a glance on our #AdoftheWeek Pinterest board!
YouTube icon Watch our 2016 #AdoftheWeek playlist on YouTube

The central character in this campaign is known simply as “Papa”. He’s the dad who loves to come up with comedic ‘zingers’ — an archetypal character familiar to sitcom aficionados. We’ve seen this comedic archetypal in The Middle, The Simpsons, Married With Children, and Modern Family. Just about every family has one: the ‘papa’ who’s always making jokes and poking fun at the youngsters who want to explore every fashionable fad that arrives on the scene. In Wimpy’s campaign Papa is poking fun at culinary trends — how people have embraced sushi, for instance, because it is seen as the ‘in’ thing to eat.

Wimpy’s Chronicles of Papa opens with the typical sitcom signature tune and title sequence. As it starts, we see Papa tending to his plants, bedecked with big goggles and a massive pair of pruning shears, despite the foliage being smallish pot plants :). The shot is taken from inside the house, and dad’s back is turned but he’s keenly attuned to what’s going on inside.

“Mom, how about sushi?” a young voice inside the house pipes up. “Ja. That’s awesome,” another voice says. Papa turns, his face aghast, and he rushes through to the lounge where mom is sitting with her two sons discussing what’s for lunch.

“Without the rawness and the fish”

He declares: “Sushi? I like sushi. It is a wow. But without the rawness and the fish. And when it is actually just chicken and ribs.” The kids protest with a big smile, as Papa puts on his hat and does a dance, saying: “Let’s have sushi.”

The next scene opens in Wimpy where the whole family are sitting in a stall, digging into the latest special — chicken and ribs. Everyone’s having a great time, when dad picks up two straws in one hand, holds them like chop sticks, and claims: “Sushi sinyama.” (For the benefit of non-SA readers, that’s a play on the isiZulu term for barbequed meat, ‘Shisa nyama’.) The family breaks out laughing, and then the ad cuts to the food shots and the new special. “A meal for meat lovers,” Papa’s voice over states, adding: “The Wimpy grill up fill up…” The commercial then continues to promote the special: ribs, chicken and chips.

This is a great ad that is fun and funny, and appeals to South Africans who are a nation of meat lovers. I’ve often heard meat lovers say of beef and chicken with a chuckle: “That’s beef and veg.”

The other ad in this campaign uses Papa to poke fun at our love of curry — and believe me, like most red-blooded locals, I’m a lover of chilli, masala and other spices. In the curry advert, Papa is snacking in the pantry when he hears his sons suggesting that the family eat a spicy lunch, which causes him to interject: “What? You mean you want to eat that hot soup with chillies? Well, you can curry on.” Once again the family ‘dispute’ is settled at Wimpy where everyone gets a meal they can enjoy, because, as Wimpy says: “Papa knows best”.

Series of ads

This is the latest in a series of adverts that play with local humour. Before this series there was a delightful ad with an English guy and his Afrikaans wife eating breakfast at Wimpy with the subject of divorce (‘die wors’, which translated means this sausage), comes up and is resolved with laughter and a great breakfast.

And who can forget the one where the father, mother and daughter had a meal with Mr Cuddles, the veg-a-materian teddy bear?

According to FCB, the “Papa” ads enhance “Wimpy’s positioning as a casual dining destination offering big eat and value grill meals.” I think it does a lot more. With Burger King expanding across South Africa, FCB’s campaign uniquely positions Wimpy as local and lekker. Wherever the brand was born is irrelevant. Wimpy is as South African as ‘pap en sous’, Shisa Nyama, AKA and Karen Zoid. And, yes, South Africans might enjoy something exotic every now and again, but there’s nothing we love better than home.

Well done, FCB Johannesburg and Wimpy, for reminding us that local is lekker.


Client: Famous Brands
Brand: Wimpy
Marketing manager: Luise Peters
Creative agency: FCB Joburg
Key account management: Mike di Terlizzi, Musa Phanga and Muzi Mabhena
Executive creative director: Jonathan Deeb
Creative director: Suhana Gordhan
Copywriter: Thabang Manyelo
Art director: Tshepo Mosoeu
Strategic planner: Thobeka Sibiya
TV production: Vanessa Borthwick
Media planners: Tahnee Cokayne
Production companies: Team Best, Hungry Films
Director: Bryan van Niekerk and Asher Stoltz (Team Best), Ian Difford (Hungry Films)
Post production: Mushroom


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

Sign up now for the MarkLives email newsletter every Monday and Thursday, now including headlines from the company newsroom service!

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