by Remon Geyser (@remongeyser) Today we’re digging deeper into the harder-to-measure, longer-term approach of emotive campaigns, and how easy (or difficult) it is to construct creative ideas that resonate in South Africa and beyond. So, this month, we consulted our marketing, advertising and creative professionals in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria and looked at the beautifully scripted and shot Investec “Promaths” ad, which was aimed at the SA market.

We have recently been engaged in numerous conversations with our clients and creative community on the role of emotive advertising, ie campaigns whose primary focus and objective are to build a connection to a feeling, attribute or emotion, rather than drive sales. The conversations typically steer in the direction of when to use this style of ad, how to measure its efficiency and, interestingly how well do these campaigns travel to other countries?

Functional vs emotional

Some believe that it’s more scalable, when launching a Pan-African campaign, to focus upon the functional benefits and push a call to action (with some form of direct marketing); others believe in building the brand’s equity (a longer-term investment) through relevant and emotive advertising — connecting with the target audience on an emotional level and creating strong feelings towards a brand. Both sides (functional vs emotional) have their merits, so it’s difficult, if even necessary, to reach consensus. Have you been thinking about this? Let us know your thoughts at community at delvv dot io.

Let’s get back to our chosen ad, “Promaths” for Investec from Y&R South Africa and directed by Keith Rose of Velocity Films, which was MarkLives Ad of the Week in April 2016. [Will it appear in our MarkLives Ad of the Year Top 5? Find out next week — ed-at-large]. Are there similar themes that would allow this to stretch into other markets and reach some sort of media efficiencies? Let’s see.

Attributes and associations

To start the conversation, we asked the professionals what they felt when viewing the TVC.

MarkLives Taking Flight Investec Promaths associations and attributes

Some professionals experienced negative emotions, due to their personal struggles with overcoming poverty — as this tone and imagery ignited those long-forgotten feelings of “Can I get out of this situation/Can I make it in this life?” They felt that there was a sense of sadness, losing hope and the difficulty of escaping the “slum life”. If that were the intention, then the creative team was successful in producing a foundational emotional structure that transcends borders.

Building upon the foundation, and providing a positive turn of events, the feelings of ambition and being inspired came through strongly, with a great life-truth told: “It will take sacrifices to get where you want to be.” For some, this created a sense of purpose and the longing to achieve something bigger in their lives, thus being very motivated to be successful. Clearly this TVC did a good job in evoking an emotional narrative arc of bad to good.

The professionals also mention that the big picture of what the TVC intended to communicate is clear: “to be ambitious and aim for success”. The script and voiceover work beautifully together, while the monochromatic filter creates a deeply moving atmosphere. One thing that stands out, however, is that the brand is not forced on the target market. That leads to the question: how forceful brands should be when talking to the consumer? How many ads can we think of offhand?


However, the professionals feel that they were left clueless as to what the company, Investec, actually does. The TVC might not be very clear in its messaging at first glance; one needs to be constantly exposed to it in order to gain understanding.

There are possible learnings for Pan African advertising here, as some questions arise: Should a brand first be well-established before it moves towards emotive advertising? When a brand flights emotive advertising, should the messaging be simple and clear enough to be understood at first glance? Some interesting points on which to ponder

There is also a possible disconnect whether a qualification equals success. In real life, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have made it, so there is a missed opportunity to connect with “real” success. However, this also points to the lack of understanding of what the Promaths project is about — educational upliftment in maths and science. We’re once again reminded that an audience unfamiliar with a brand’s projects or initiatives needs to be educated before members can understand its marketing, especially when it’s emotive.

Creative gauge

Overall, this TVC scored immensely high in all regions, indicating that this has the potential to be a real winner — if education on the brand and its projects are first communicated, of course.

MarkLives Taking Flight Investec Promaths creative gauge

In Ghana though, creatives felt that the copy was lacking, even though the story was really strong. Despite the commentary on making the end result more “real”, measures on “realistic” and “inspirational” were the highest. To take it to the next level, some professionals feel that there is a need to depict good living for the achiever at the end — as that would solidify that she has really made it.

Although a minor theme, the sentiment with our Nigerian professionals is that this story needed to feature a male lead, as this TVC has the potential to alienate males. This may give the perception that the brand is female — balance is needed. A comment that males are driven by their ego, and TV boosts their ego, is noted. In the other markets, they felt that using a female lead conveys a strong message of defining a trustworthy and peaceful personality. Contextually it also makes sense as, sadly, in some regions, female education is denied.

Next steps

Our panel believe that this TVC has the potential to be a real hit.

MarkLives Taking Flight Investec Promaths next steps

This lends support to the belief that emotional ads CAN transcend borders if the idea resonates and the execution stays out of the way. This particular execution just needs some minor modifications, plus more education on the brand and its endeavours, to be successful.


Remon Geyser 2015Remon Geyser (@remongeyser) is a burger fanatic, wine connoisseur and eSports enthusiast (yes, a fancy term for playing computer games). He is also co-founder of, heading up research, operations, product and culture. provides creative expert feedback anywhere in Africa, in order to rock marketing ROI. Remon contributes the new monthly “Taking Flight” column, which provides Pan-African feedback on South African ads for other markets, to

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