A man using his cellphone walks past an advertisement promoting a Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone at a shop in Seoul. Picture: REUTERS
A man using his cellphone walks past an advertisement promoting a Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone at a shop in Seoul. Picture: REUTERS

What is Samsung’s secret when it comes to making ads that strike a chord with consumers?

For a second year running, the global electronics giant tops the Kantar Millward Brown Best-Liked Ads Survey, with a commercial called "Knox Seagull".

Made by Ogilvy London, it is one of eight global ads that crack the 2017 list.

Local agencies might want to ask why an increasing number of international ads find more favour with South Africans than those that are home grown.

"Sadly it’s that old story about money," says one agency CEO. "SA brands have for a long time been pulling back from big budget work. It’s no excuse of course. You should be able to create brilliance with whatever you are given, but more money swilling around the production coffers does help."

Kantar notes that both the 2017 and the 2016 Samsung ads were created to "travel with a universal truth that everyone can relate to." The research agency says brilliant creative, especially crafted for a global audience, tells a story that communicates the features of the phone without telling consumers about the features but using a story to show and engage users.

That, says a local creative director, is a lesson for local agencies. "In an age of advanced technology, many brands seem to think that pushing features and price is key. It’s not the case. A great narrative should be the beating heart of any campaign."

An ad for Consol Glass by Grey South Africa comes second on the list. Supporting the power of great storytelling, Kantar says: "This is an emotional ad that tugs at your heartstrings. We know people feel first and think second, so if you can make them feel something instantly, you’re halfway there. The story is about real human moments we can all relate to and engage with, while the brand and bottle were also central to the story, making the ad easy to recall."

An ad by FCB Johannesburg for Toyota is placed third. FCB has a long history of creating likeable advertising and the group has three ads in the rankings, for clients Absa, Steers and Debonairs Pizza.

Kantar says the Toyota ad reflects a slice of life with great SA and human moments and also demonstrates the product in use — "but showing it, not saying it".

Per category the rankings again show that South Africans relate to likeable advertising more through their stomachs than their eyes.

Eight of the top 20 ads are in the food and drinks category. An ad for the concentrate drink Oros by King James is placed sixth and one for KFC by Ogilvy is eighth.

Ten years ago car ads would dominate the list, with local agencies leading the way. This time only three vehicle brands – Toyota, Audi and Volvo – make the list and two of the ads are made by international agencies with FCB Johannesburg’s ad for Hilux coming in at number three.