A shot from Nando’s "We can fix our S#*t" ad.
A shot from Nando’s "We can fix our S#*t" ad.

M&C Saatchi Abel has clinched what is arguably the most important annual accolade in SA advertising, the "most-liked television ad" rating. The work for Nando’s is called "We can fix our S#*t" and takes a light-hearted jab at life in SA.

The top 20 most-liked ads are compiled by research agency Kantar, which polls consumers about the ads that resonate most with them.

Kantar says of the Nando’s work that won the 2018 honour: "It’s this unique creative style and the way that Nando’s risks it all, walking a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate, that has landed this ad in first place."

Coming in at No 2 is sportswear brand Nike’s ad "Just do it: Caster Semenya", which also won a Glass Lion at the recent Cannes Festival of Creativity. The ad was produced by the Wieden+Kennedy agency in Amsterdam and tells "an engaging story that creates a strong, emotional and meaningful impression in consumers’ minds", says Kantar. "It is purposeful advertising at its best and the ad sparks further debate on inclusion and equality, putting the #FairnessFirst movement squarely in the spotlight."

The ad reflects on the gender controversy surrounding Semenya, but shows that none of it is going to stop her. "That’s too bad," says Semenya of her critics, "because I was born to do this" — inspiring consumers, notes Kantar, to "just do it" too.

In third place is an ad for sparkling wine Bernini called "Press for sparkle" by the boutique local agency Singh & Sons. Kantar says the ad creates an aspirational feel — playing in the emotive territory of a girls’ night out, setting a beautiful, glamorous and luxurious backdrop for the drink.

The research agency says the top 20 ads have an SA flavour, with local ad agencies leading the way.

It’s worth noting that an ad for anti-inflammatory drug Voltaren from Saatchi & Saatchi’s SA office was made to travel. "We usually see global ads appearing in the SA market, and not often SA ads in global markets — highlighting the ad’s ability to cross borders and still engage in another market because it tells a universal story."

The brands in the latest ranking reflect what Kantar calls "a day in the life" of consumers — all relevant and easy to relate to, with great SA humour coming through.

The ads for vehicle brand Kia and the Volkswagen Polo convey stories that show instead of tell about the cars, using humour to engage.

Kantar says its AdReaction data shows that humour is one of the most fundamental ingredients for engagement in this country, with SA scoring nearly 20% higher than the global average. "We can see this theme coming through in our top 20 ads."

The winning ads score high on enjoyment, involvement and positive emotions, connecting on an emotional level — entertaining the audience and making the ads memorable and easily recalled, not always an easy feat.

Analysis of Kantar data shows that in 2016, 63% of ads failed to cut through. This year, between January and March, a huge 77% of all ads have failed to resonate effectively with consumers, with 49% of new ads achieving below-average cut-through at launch. Effectively this means that every second ad launched on TV is a waste of media investment. Over time it would appear that brands are investing more behind lacklustre executions, as the trend of below-average ads continues to rise.

Kantar says the best chance of winning is if you are a brand operating in categories that consistently overindex in terms of recall.

The top categories include carbonated soft drinks, fast-food chains, coffee creamers, retail groceries, dental, telecommunications, fruit juice, long-term insurance, banking, alcoholic beverages and household cleaning.

Kantar says the best way to ensure media return on investment is to start with great creative. "There is no doubt that categories and brands need to cut through the clutter and work hard to get the consumer’s attention, and there is certainly a plethora of clutter to work through in the SA advertising TV space."