by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) As the end of 2017 rushes headlong towards us (or as we rush towards it), let’s look back on the best of the ads we named as our Ads of the Week. It was a great year for TV ads but there were also mould-breaking experiential campaigns that illustrated once again how innovative South African agencies can be.

But which one was the best of the year? The judges went through a rigorous voting process to decide on our annual award of Ad of the Year 2017. Various shortlists were created, and then pared down to a Top 10, which will be presented to you over the next two editions of this column. It was really tough to choose, and voting was really close.

Today we’ll start the countdown from number 10 to number four, and on Thursday we’ll feature the Top 3.

Pinterest icon View all the Ads of the Week at a glance on our #AdoftheWeek Pinterest board!
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#10: Meet South Africa, Meet Bheki the Mbhaco Maker by FCB Johannesburg for South Africa Tourism

Long version

Short version

FCB Joburg and director Teboho Mahlatsi of Bomb Commercials have created mythical magic for South African Tourism in a story that takes a journey through our beautiful country. It’s a smart campaign that delightfully celebrates our country’s diversity of scenery and culture. Aimed at potential foreign visitors, it’s a kaleidoscopic journey through SA.

The mini-movie (also available as a short) tells the story of Bheki, who designs the traditional Xhosa wedding dress, known as the Mbhaco. When a princess asks him to create something unique for her wedding, he embarks on a countrywide journey to find inspiration; and through this process he exposes some of the highlights of SA culture, including township nightlife and Cape hospitality.

If it’s possible to encapsulate the spirit, beauty and charm of SA on film, this short movie has done so, and more. Showcasing everything that might appeal to most types of tourists, the story of Bheki’s journey wraps it all into a vibrant package that is rich in narrative and incredibly memorable.


#9. Uk’shona Kwelanga by King James Group (Cape Town) for Sanlam

Take a soap opera and combine that with WhatsApp, and what do you get? A daily soap that gets delivered to you, as if it’s happening in real time. The campaign was run using several dedicated WhatsApp groups that users were invited to join, and each day a new ‘episode’ took place, using the multiple capabilities of the WhatsApp platform, including photos, video messages, text messages and sound.

Funeral insurance can be a difficult sell and, for a long time, financial companies have tackled this by using direct marketing, hard selling, the fear factor or a number of other methods to try and make their brand top of mind. With this campaign, Sanlam and King James show that they get that advertising is changing. Engagement and hot content are critical to try and ensure people tune into a brand particularly for something that might be seen as a grudge purchase.


#8: Absa Premiership by FCB Joburg for Absa

Soccer reaches a huge segment of the South African population, so Absa’s sponsorship of the annual Premier League championship is a smart move, and its campaign to draw viewers is a masterpiece.

The story behind the ad tells the story of two young men who were born rivals: growing up they were always competing, be it playing foosball, breakdancing or indeed, soccer. In the final frame they are captured in mid-air, playing soccer at a big stadium, both going for the same ball.

The creative concept behind this TVC, directed by Robin Goode of Figment Films, espouses the truism that competition can make us stronger. The slogan is “Woza Nazo” — “Bring it on”. Or, as Absa says: “We’re turning up the rivalry this season in the Absa Premiership because, when rivalry comes alive, the game gets better.”


#7. Suppertime Stories by Ogilvy Joburg for KFC

Bedtime stories, based on traditional African folktales, are celebrated in this experiential campaign, with a clever twist on the iconic KFC bucket.

Selected outlets for the famous fried chicken brand gave out special, laser-cut sleeves, which could be removed from the bucket. Customers downloaded an app, and placed their smartphone under the sleeve. The smartphone’s light, sound and vibration features were used to enhance a narrated story with sound effects. The light shines through the laser-cut stencils, projecting shapes onto the ceiling and walls. This concept helps to promote a tradition of storytelling, which is critical for young children to develop a love of reading.

Locally, KFC has been doing a lot more than selling fresh, tender and tasty chicken. The brand is an expert when it comes to reaching out to customers and growing loyalty, as this magical campaign proves — without a shadow of a doubt.


A-a-and we have a tie for 6th place!

Joint #6. Don’t be a #TravelHater by McCann Johannesburg for

Kulula continues its tradition of making laugh-out-loud commercials, and this campaign is about haters that will put a smile on your face.

The concept is simple: we all hate those bores who drone on and on about their fantastic holidays, but who wants to negative? makes holiday travel affordable, so you don’t have to be a #travelhater. The scenarios are everyday events — an office celebration, two couples having dinner, and two guys in a canteen.

In each scenario, director Bevan Cullinan of Hammerhead TV, the ‘TravelHater’ (ie the person who didn’t go on a mind-blowing holiday) manages to express their hatred in a funny and creative way, with ‘accidentally on purpose’ subterfuge.


Joint #6. Bite-Size Ballet by TBWA\Hunt Lascaris for Joburg Ballet

A campaign to get more people to the Joburg Ballet takes this classical dance form to the streets, with a unique mashup of old and new.

Three short dance sequences were created by the company, based on suggestions from fans, and filmed by Darling directors Jeana Theron and Ross Garrett. Contemporary topical subjects were reinterpreted in dance: women abuse in August, Women’s Month; one of the most-hyped boxing matches in recent history, the ‘Money Fight’ between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Conor McGregor; and a ‘recap’ of the first six seasons of Game of Thrones, just prior to the airing of the seventh season.

By ‘taking it to the streets’, Joburg Ballet has demonstrated that it is both accessible and relevant.


#4. #untaggable by Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town for Audi Q2

Audi’s campaign is all about one of the brand’s newest models — the Q2 that doesn’t fit neatly into any descriptor. It has a luxury interior, coupé performance, off-road capability and urban style. To illustrate this concept, Ogilvy Cape Town produced an ad that says very little about the car but a lot about the philosophy behind the design.

To illustrate how ‘unusual’ is not necessarily a bad thing, the TVC — directed by Sam Coleman of Giant Films — features Thando Hopa, who is in part distinctive because of her albinism. Lawyer/activist/model/actress, she challenges the conventional concepts of beauty and embodies a certain enigmatic aura that is explored in this well-filmed and artfully styled piece.

Having looked at some of the brand’s international ads, I can honestly say that this is one of the most-original and -arresting ads for the car. In choosing Hopa as a symbol, Audi has entrenched the brand as one that challenges convention by creating something exciting and new, and providing a new definition of beauty and style.


Well, there you have it: the first part of our #Top10. On Thursday, I’ll reveal the top three ads of 2017, including the overall winner. Congrats to you all — this has been the crème de la crème of the crop, and proof positive that SA advertising is among the best in the world.

View the Top 3 here.

See also



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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