Ad of the week with Oresti Patricios: Underdog love story meets So You Think You Can Dance

For many years now, Wimpy has opted for brand oriented campaigns that are highly visual with a strong feel-good factor. In these campaigns the burger people aren’t selling the bun, the patty or the sizzle, they’re selling a brand positioning that’s all about fun.

Way back in 1981 Wimpy had an absurd alien in an equally absurd UFO, coming to Earth to get a burger, only to have his UFO towed for illegal parking. Then there was that ‘free mug’ promotion that had a mug collector showing off his collection, only to have the boom microphone get stuck in the overhead fan, wreaking absolute havoc and destroying the whole collection, candid camera style. And who can forget “I love it when you talk foreign” – the spot that promoted Wimpy’s barista-style coffees? That particular TV ad achieved a massive word-of-mouth factor – at the time everyone was ‘talking foreign’ and mouthing the words: ‘Cremachino, café mocha, and macchiato.

Wimpy has a long history in South Africa. The first store was opened in 1967 in Durban, and over the years it became SA’s de facto burger joint, and a part of our national fabric. In those early days one could buy a burger, chips and coke for a mere 60c. Bought from the American mother company in the late 70s by Bakers, it was later sold to Pleasure Foods, who in turn sold the chain to Famous Brands. In 2007 Famous Brands would go on to buy the struggling UK chain of Wimpy restaurants as well.

Since then, extensive rebranding has taken place to unify the SA and UK brands. The bold red-and-white logo is complemented in the UK by ‘Mr Wimpy’ – a big-headed character in what looks like a beefeater outfit, with a red skirt, floppy red hat and medals. Somehow I don’t think we’ll be seeing him here, but then again, I don’t think Wimpy needs a mascot because its local ads are such a hit.

Ad of the Week with Oresti Patricios – when anything is possible

Humour is often used to great effect in advertising. The youth market is particularly open to a good laugh, and six years ago Opel raised eyebrows by making a series of wacky, crudely animated ads that focussed on the ‘fun’ aspects of owning a car. In fact, many of them didn’t even talk about the car – they were just silly, funny or weird.

The CorsaLite ads featured the ridiculous, absurd and wonderfully funny Raj Brothers, and the commercials that were produced over a decade ago still live on in our memories and YouTube because they were so distinctive and hilarious.

In the stuffy old days of advertising, car commercials were largely targeted at adults, and focussed strongly on benefits – like safety, fuel efficiency, power… the stuff that interests ‘Dad’. Fortunately advertisers came to their senses, and part of the big changes in automobile advertising was the idea that humour could feature in a car ad. Ten years ago the Raj Bros TV spots for CorsaLite were some of the most talked about ads of the time, because they were so unusual, and because they worked.

VW’s entry-level product, the Polo Vivo, is definitely aimed at the youth market, and although its sticker price is not the lowest on the market, it has the VW brand and sleek looks that set it apart from its peers. And then there’s the commercial campaign. The idea central to this clever and comedic campaign: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if the unlikely and improbable could come true? Well if Volkswagen can make Polo Vivos available for such a crazy price, then who knows what other crazy things might happen…”

This ad takes place in the world of students: university. A dreamy looking young man is falling asleep in a class – which looks a lot like Advanced Calculus, given the cryptic scrawling on the board. The professor announces that this is an unsolvable equation. Our hero is woken by the prof, and blurts out what is clearly a guess: “Eleven”.

Ad of the Week with Oresti Patricios – When a brand invests in the human spirit

When we think of the exemplars of the human spirit, it’s easy to think of sporting heroes, artists and other remarkable people who have truly excelled. One’s mind easily turns to extraordinary South Africans like multi-award winning paralympic swimmer Natalie du Toit; or the internationally acclaimed singer Miriam Makeba; or renowned author and anti-apartheid activist, Alan Paton. Then there’s the man who suffered greatly but overcame to lead a nation and in the process became a global icon – Nelson Mandela.

All these people have something in common: a spirit of determination to persevere, to overcome and to triumph. These are the kinds of role models we hope our children will emulate. But there are other, more everyday heroes, whose successes don’t always play out on a public stage.

Recently I heard a story from a friend who stopped at a garage near Estcourt, and happened to pull up alongside a KZN hospital outpatient bus. Whilst filling her tank, she watched as the emergency worker helped an old man with Parkinson’s up the bus’s narrow stairs. One slow step at a time, the man painstakingly climbed the vehicle’s stairs to take his seat.

All the other pensioners in the bus were grumbling and impatient, waiting to be taken to the local hospital timeously for their check-ups and medical visits. It must have taken at least 15 minutes for the man to board, but not once did the medical employee show any sign of impatience. He just calmly and compassionately supported the old man, as they worked to achieve a common objective.

Ad of the week with Oresti Patricios – A ‘lekker’ local campaign with wings

Kulula continues its tradition of cheeky, humorous and thoroughly South African commercials, this time with a print ad that introduces the livery on the airline’s new fleet of Boeing 737-800s (and takes an indirect swipe at the national carrier).

The full colour print ad, launched on Sunday 03 March 2013 in the Sunday Times, shows a new Boeing , with livery proudly displaying the South African flag on the tail, and the bold new slogan “The Most South African Airways” on the side. Kulula has been careful not to mimic the font or the exact tail design of SAA planes, thus avoiding any potential legal trademark issues.

Known for their irreverent, comedic approach to marketing and getting their customers to chortle at the airline’s whacky in-flight announcements and edgy viral marketing, succeeds in resonating with locals by being as South African as braaivleis, Shosholoza and vuvuzelas. The latest ad (which uses ‘South Africanisms’ like ‘super-stoked’ and ‘awesome’) which introduces the airline’s new slogan underscores Kulula’s patriotic brand positioning.

“We thought long and hard about a slogan that truly represents who we are as an airline and communicates our passion for South African travel, and this was the most fitting. We are proud of it and are sure it will be well received by our fans,” said Nadine Damen, Marketing Manager of

I’m not so sure it will be that well received by SAA, who are currently facing a High Court challenge from Comair (’s parent company), against a proposed R5bn ‘bail out’ by the government. But then the green airline with the great sense of humour are not shy of controversy.

Ad of the week with Oresti Patricios – AbsolutZA

For most people there is probably one vodka brand that is top of mind: Absolut Vodka. I don’t even drink vodka, but I love this brand. It has a personality – it is fun, quirky, sometimes sexy, often outrageous. It has noticeability, talk-ability. You’ll stop and look at an Absolut ad or billboard, because you know there’s something – a hidden message, a play on words, a design trick… and the execution is always intelligent.

Absolut Vodka is produced only in Åhus, in southern Sweden. Since its launch in 1979, Absolut Vodka has achieved worldwide sales growth from 10,000 nine-litre cases (90,000 litres) to 11.0 million nine-litre cases in 2010 (99.0 millions of litres). That has made it the third or fourth best-selling refined spirit in the world.

Heck, there are even fans with fan-pages – not only on Facebook – try, or There have been spoofs and parodies, of course, which – as we know – is the sincerest form of flattery. It also underscores the brand’s impact on pop culture.

Instead of spending fortunes on logo design, the product, with its distinctive bottle shape, is the star. We all know the familiar spotlight-design pack-shot, along with a simple, two-word headline, using ‘Absolut’ as an adjective. Print ads are carefully placed in publications that are consistent with class, quality and style. Apart from the distinctive single page ads, Absolut has also experimented with ‘Collections’ – like the Seven Sins: separate pages throughout the publication, with the distinctive bottle artfully portraying Lust, Sloth, Gluttony, Greed, Envy, Wrath and Pride, and an eighth with a halo over the bottle, labelled “Absolut Seven”.

Ad of the week with Oresti Patricios – Diffusing political drama with satire

The last couple of weeks have been saturated with the drama of the ANC/FNB debate, resulting in heavy and heated discourse on the issue. That’s why it was such a delight when the latest CAR Magazine advert landed in my inbox.

If there’s one thing that effectively diffuses political drama it is satire, and CAR Magazine’s parody of the FNB’s controversial campaign does this with clever copy that will give lovers of radio a reason to smile when they hear the spot. The ad opens with the dulcet tones of an accent that’s very at home in South Africa. “There will be a day…” the ad sounds with serious music playing the background that sets up the scene for an announcement of some gravitas. “… a day when every car magazine throughout this magnificent land will come with a free, full-colour poster of the McLaren MP4-12C Spider.”

“There will be a day…” the ad continues in solemn timbre, its tongue firmly in its cheek, “when CAR Magazine will give its readers an exclusive preview of BMW’s new four series, with special emphasis on the M4. That day is today, and tomorrow, and the day after, and every day until March, because you can get all of this, and much, much more in the February issue of CAR Magazine. On sale today.” The ad ends with the voice over becoming more hopeful and wistful, and the music ending on an up-beat tenor.

Ad of the Week with Oresti Patricios – Share the gift

The festive season is when advertisers traditionally tug at the old heart strings, and the commercial for Ster-Kinekor’s charity initiative in conjunction with Specsavers, which implores viewers to ‘share the gift of sight’, is no different.

This commercial movie (and yes it is a little movie in that it tells a beautiful story and has impressive cinematic production values) opens on an RDP-styled house somewhere in South Africa. The house has been built on to, so it appears that this family is moving up in the world.

A little boy in school uniform runs into frame, opens the door and tries to sneak past his mum with his head down (as we’ve all done, some or other time in our childhood). This lad is almost home free when guilt gets the best of him. You see him wavering slightly as he’s almost out of eyeshot of his mother, who is cooking dinner because night has fallen and supper time is fast approaching.

The young son, who is wearing the most awesome black hipster glasses, turns and walks towards his mother and looks her straight in the eye. It is then that the viewer clearly sees that one of the lenses of the glasses he is wearing is missing.

The mother is furious of course, because the shiny new glasses must have cost a fortune. She scolds him as he remains silent, and then she demands to know what happens. As soon as he’s mustered the word about who has the other lens, mum leaves the cooking and drags her son off to get his missing lens back.

Ad of the Week with Oresti Patricios – ads that make you feel good about paying tax

At the best of times paying tax is seen as a necessary evil, but when politics is so highly contested – as it is right now – paying tax becomes a highly emotional issue. Locally tax payers are horribly over-burdened and the tsunami of news about government corruption and wasteful expenditure hardly endears those who fill up the state’s coffers to SA’s revenue collection entity.

This is what makes marketing the SARS brand such a massive challenge. Our country’s revenue collections service is among one of the most efficient state departments, but the funds it collects are not being well spent by government which is a major irritation for tax payers.

But City Press editor, Ferial Haffajee, penned the perfect column a couple of weeks ago called ‘Tjatjarag: Sars adverts help soothe nascent taxpayer resentment’, which talked about what a wonderful government organisation SARS is, and how it is even the subject of a Harvard case study.

“The agency is South Africa’s most efficient and innovative, and is always held up as a public-service model,” writes Haffajee. “The effective collection of tax has been a steady story of governance success. Under former tax commissioner Pravin Gordhan, and now under his successor Oupa Magashule, tax compliance has taken the country from a state of high delinquency to one of high compliance.”

If you read a paper called ‘The power of politics: The performance of the South African Revenue Service and some of its implications’, by Laïla Smith of the Centre for Policy Studies, you’ll understand why this is the case. SARS, says Smith, appears to be one of the success stories of post-apartheid government. “In a context in which the failure of the state to elicit citizens’ compliance with public obligations is seen as a central weakness of the new democracy, and in which the efficiency of government is seen by many analysts to be wanting, the statutory tax collecting agency has substantially increased its revenues.”

Ad of the Week with Oresti Patricios – Ramsay’s meaty new campaign

Gordon Ramsay is back on South African television screens, but this time the British celebrity chef is not telling failed restaurateurs to “fuck off”, he’s checking Checkers’ racks.

“Checkers reckons their butchery’s top notch,” says the legend who holds an incredible 12 Michelin Stars. In the advert he’s carrying in a whole lamb on his shoulder into what looks like a pristine gourmet kitchen. You don’t immediately see that the chef carrying in the carcass is Ramsay, so there’s a big surprise when that meat hits the wooden cutting board, and that unmistakable, self-assured tone growls at you.

“Well, let’s see what they’ve got,” Ramsay asserts over music that sounds just like ‘Misirlou’ a folk song popularised first by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, and then by Quentin Tarantino when it was used in “Pulp Fiction”. Viewers of the chef’s compulsive US reality show, Kitchen Nightmares, should find it familiar because ‘Misirlou’, a wild, rebellious soundtrack was used with that show. The makers of Ramsay’s television programmes have always made astute choices for their soundtracks, and the Checkers butchery commercial is no different.

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