by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) FCB Cape Town and We Love Jam have created a charmingly funny series of ads for Blooms Pharmacy which makes use of the ‘magic’ of radio to create a storied image, and then turn it on its head.

I love cognitive dissonance — it’s defined in various ways but I like to think of it as the moment when you become aware of two things that may both be true, yet each of these two concepts don’t agree with each other, and fight for supremacy in one’s mind. Some of the best humour makes use of cognitive dissonance — people such as Jerry Seinfeld are masters at finding and describing those aspects of life that don’t make sense. The king of the one liner, US comedian Steven Wright, could, in one sentence, make you realise that the way we live life, and the way we express things, is often contradictory. A classic Wright line, for example: “Everywhere is walking distance, if you have the time.”

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In this innovative radio campaign for Blooms Pharmacy in Cape Town, the copy is cleverly designed to build a picture in the listener’s head. In the three radio ads created by FCB Cape Town and We Love Jam, the notion of the ‘theatre of the mind’ is exploited to the full to create a delightful moment of surprise. In each of the ads, the mental concept being built up in the listener’s mind turns out to be something quite different.

Each advert is narrated by a mature adult male, and each ad describes a scenario which one assumes (thanks to the carefully worded script) to be about an adult. But, right towards the end, one realises that this little story has really been about a child (or infant) all along.

The scene is set

In the first spot, “Office”, the scene is set: It’s a blue Monday for William Jones, who discovers that his workstation has been taken over by a certain Matthew Carr — “the same person who’d run into William in the corridor outside, and not even stopped to apologise.” The narration continues to tell the story of William’s day, and how he has been working very hard “to impress his superiors”, when Tina Hall came over and “scribbled all over his labour of love”.

At this point, the cognitive dissonance starts to kick in — this isn’t normal workplace behaviour after all! The next sentence seals the deal: “He was overtired, overstressed and, although biting Tina’s arm had been mildly satisfying, what he really needed was a unique paediatric remedy from Blooms Pharmacy.”

The second ad, “Flight”, tells the story of “Karen Smith”, who takes a plane trip, only to burst into tears and throw up on the man seated next to her. The third ad, “Mall”, is about “Michael Brown”, who gets dragged off to the mall against his wishes and manages to soil his pants before even making it into the entrance.

Charmingly amusing

The ‘reveal’ in all of them is clever and charmingly amusing, and a lot of the pleasure of these ads is to be had in the execution, which is masterful. The copy is superbly crafted and the gravitas of the older man’s voice (combined with a simple piano melody) makes the ads listenable and entertaining.

With the advent of regional radio, the medium has become more accessible for small- to medium-sized businesses, and it’s good to see that Blooms is not wasting the opportunity through a shoddily put-together spot (as many local retailers are wont to do).

FCB Cape Town takes us all right back to the golden era of radio with this smart, whimsical campaign that is full of drama and incredibly entertaining. Well done, FCB Cape Town, We Love Jam and Blooms — you’ve won gold. (But the Academy Award still goes to Moonlight.)


Advertising agency: FCB Cape Town
Executive creative director: Mike Barnwell
Art director: Dylan Davies
Copywriter: Alistair Morgan
Agency producer: Ashleigh Jarrett
Group account director: Steph Binns
Production: We Love Jam
Engineer: Arnold Vermaak

Credits updated at 9.27am on 15 March 2017.


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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