by Kyle de Waal & Morgan Botha. Things are tough right now, with South Africa under covid-19 lockdown, so here’s our choice of brilliant ads that connect and inspire: Chicken Licken (social distancing), Pick n Pay (reminding us not to panic buy), Nando’s (inspiring us all), South African Tourism (reminding that we’ll be able to travel again), and our president, Cyril Ramaphosa (ably guiding our country).

We’re all stuck at home, looking out the windows wishing we could just go back to when things were “normal” but, since life isn’t going to be normal for a while, we might as well embrace it and enjoy the effort that brands and agencies put into making incredible ads. Finally, please follow the laws and keep your fellow South Africans in mind during these uncertain and scary times. Stay inside, wash your hands, only buy what you absolutely need and help each other out. We will get through this together and we hope to be out and about again soon.

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Guess everyone really is talking about it

#AdChamp: Chicken Licken’s Everyone’s Talking About It — Kentucky

When a company and agency make content this good, it’s very difficult to stop talking about them. Joe Public has, once again, blown us away. The use of humour in this mockumentary is absolutely incredible, the amount of effort put in leaves us (almost) speechless, and this has been our comic relief since it arrived in our inbox. It’s also one of the best examples of toeing the line of South African advertising law we’ve ever seen. Nothing’s said outright but the implication is oh so clear, and it’s glorious.

We’ve watched this ad about 50 times now and we still laugh out loud every time; we’d happily pay full movie-price tickets to see a feature-length film version of this ad, where the good people of Kentucky rise up and demand Chicken Licken — “I don’t know why they would do that” is the probably the funniest thing we’ve seen or heard since we went into self-isolation. That look of pure disappointment will never get old.

This genuine, warm, and hilarious ad is the perfect pick-me-up for when you’re sitting at home, feeling anxious and scared. We might not be able to get any Chicken Licken right now but, the second we’re allowed out of quarantine, that’s the first restaurant we’re heading to!


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Brand: Chicken Licken
Client: Chantal Sombonos van Tonder
Agency: Joe Public United
Group chief creative officer: Pepe Marais
Chief creative officer: Xolisa Dyeshana
Creative director: Assaf Levy
Art director: Zamani Ngubane
Copywriter: Caroline Bergh
Strategy: Leigh Tayler
Account management: Amber Mackeurtan, Asbo Ofori-Amanfo
Agency TV producer: Wendy Botha
Production company: Burley Boys
Director: Katlego Baaitse


Be kind; think of others when shopping

#AdChamp: Pick n Pay’s Don’t Panic Buy — Shop Thoughtfully

This ad arrived just when it was needed the most — you’ve probably already heard about, or seen in person, how some people who can afford to have been manically hoarding resources when it’s unnecessary — factories are still functioning and trucks are still delivering produce. Anyway, the day before the nationwide lockdown officially started, Pick n Pay uploaded this song to Twitter and shared a positive message in a novel, imaginative way.

This ad also shows how it’s possible for people to stay at home and still produce amazing content. None of these South African celebrities was even in the same room and yet they managed to make a song together. It’s also really catchy. This might just be your quarantine earworm.


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Brand: Pick n Pay
Ad agency: King James Group CT
Editing: Me&MyFriends
Music: Bellville Studios
Copywriter: Drew Murphy
Art director: Gregory Booysen
Executive creative directors: Devin Kennedy, Matt Ross
Chief creative officer: Alistair King
Editor: Anthony Lee-Martin
Music: Theo Crous, Ard Matthews
Client: John Bradshaw, Michelle van Schalkwyk-Haley
Agency producer: Kathy Jones
Client service director: Melanie Whitfield


Nando’s takes this seriously

#AdChamp: Nando’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” message to Nandocas from Robbie Brozin

Among the many things we’d never thought we’d be doing, we never thought we’d get emotional watching a video by a restaurant but here we are. At this time, it’s important to listen to positive words and Nando’s, as usual, has pulled through for us.

By taking a stand and closing down all its restaurants, Nando’s has shown many businesses that now isn’t the time to be selfish — now is the time to think of the people who work for you, to think of their families, to flatten the curve and keep people safe through “social togetherness”. And not to do it with sadness but do it “with pride, with courage, with passion” as “because, for the first time, our flame must leave our home and go to yours, and stay there. For now.”

Incredibly stirring.


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MarkLives will publish a credits list once we receive one from the creative agency. At the time of publication, the list wasn’t yet available.


We will travel again

#AdChamp: South African Tourism’s Don’t Travel Now So You Can Travel Later

South Africans are coming together in a way that none could have predicted. For the most part, in urban areas, people are working together, staying indoors, and following the rules for the greater good. But it’s hard to do so when you’re used to going to the gym, walking your dog, visiting the beach for your daily dose of sunshine, and spending time with your friends.

These first ads in a new brand campaign from a brand-new set of ad agencies are doing an incredible job of reminding us why it’s important to stay at home because, if we all do what we know is right, things will go back to (new) normal and we will travel again. They are produced so beautifully, narrated by two locals with incredibly soothing voices, and showcase many proudly South African scenes [including 2017’s Bheki the Mbhaco Maker” — ed-at-large] that we all miss dearly. Yet we see something to look forward to — a hope to carry us through the dark times.

This campaign has been created not to make money, not to sell a product, but to bring the country together while staying apart. We feel proud to be part of this rainbow nation that has taken such decisive action in a time of trouble.


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Ad agency: Metropolitan Republic:
Creative partner: Paul Warner
Executive creative director: Kamogelo Sesing
Copywriter: Chiedza Quinchette
Art director: Mbuso Ndlovu
Production company: The Rudeboy Collective
Creative director: Monde Like the World
Executive producer: Sabelo Mahlangu
Post-production: Postmodern Production
Audio: Earworm Studios


Our president steps up

#AdChamp: President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa

For our final Ad Champ, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the incredible work done by our own president, Cyril Ramaphosa.

In the past few weeks, we’ve all found ourselves turning to social media and our TVs for guidance, and we’ve found it. Our government has done an incredible job of staying calm in a crisis and its firm and fast action should save thousands of lives, if not more. We’ve been inspired by the words of our president over many speeches and we continue to look to him for leadership during very uncertain times. We feel an immense pride watching his speeches, knowing that our government is taking this incredibly seriously and is doing its best to have our backs.

This is a time of unprecedented anxiety and many of us aren’t doing so well right now, so it’s comforting to know that most of those elected to run our country share that stress and are working hard to make sure our country survives. President Ramaphosa’s speeches [watch videos here — ed-at-large] during this novel coronavirus pandemic show a communications campaign tightly crafted to give South Africans hope and inspiration.


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Brand: Government of South Africa
Agency: Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)

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MarkLives logoWho are Kyle de Waal and Morgan Botha? We are two young-at-heart millennials trying with all our might to break the mould of the stereotypical ‘all millennials are the same…’ because — after all — we’re all just people. Together with the editors of, we enjoy finding ads worth watching and talking about, and then showcasing them here in our new monthly MarkLives column, #AdChamps.

If you’re involved in making South African or African advertising that’s smart, funny and/or engaging, please let us know at

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