Tough times ruin the story for SA's ad makers
Powerful storytelling is the common thread in the latest list of most-liked commercials, but budget cuts mean fewer advertisers are opting for this approach
Budget cutbacks and a greater emphasis on price and promotion over brand development are impeding the local advertising industry’s ability to make television ads that resonate with consumers.
That’s the blunt view of one leading creative director as the Kantar Millward Brown Best-Liked Ads list for the first two quarters of 2017 is released.
The upshot is that six ads in a combined list of 20 have been made by overseas agencies. The auto industry is most affected by this new economic paradigm as only one locally made car ad makes the list. In previous years the list was dominated by memorable car ads – always seen as a badge account for agencies.
Nowadays it’s more cost effective to repurpose a global ad and channel marketing budget into below-the-line retail work and digital products where customer response is more measurable.
Topping the list for Q2 is FCB Johannesburg’s ad for Toyota HiLux called "Tough-er My Son". The big-budget ad uses all the devices the brand has become famous for — cute children of all races, a reference to rugby and its sponsorship of the Free State Cheetahs, and even a fighter-jet fly-past.
Kantar Millward Brown notes that powerful storytelling remains a common thread in these results: "Narrative transportation, or losing oneself in the flow of the story, predicts how well a viewer will recall a story and whether they will act at a later date. Our research confirms that, if well-crafted, story ads can have more motivational power than non-story ads. The most successful messaging occurs in stories where the brand’s role is necessary, believable, and integral to the plot."
One of the ads that hits the mark is Grey Advertising’s ad for Consol Glass called "The Best Things Come in Glass." Well crafted, it tracks the journey of discovery of a six-year-old and the items that can be stored in a bottle. Pathos is achieved when she is able to relate her adventure and collection to a blind grandmother.
No single local agency dominates the list as in the past. The Ogilvy Group fresh from its Loeries success places three ads in the combined list and FCB gets a second nod for its work on new client Absa. A small Cape Town agency The Suits makes the top 10 list in Q1 for client News 24 and an app called The Edge, which allows consumers to curate their own current affairs content.