Picture: 123RF/marcociannarel
Picture: 123RF/marcociannarel

A powerful television commercial that delves into the imagination of a child and features his toy car has been named as the most-loved SA television commercial ever.

Sasol’s famous "Glug Glug" commercial showing the performance of Sasol fuel through innocent eyes tops the list of the most-liked TV ads of the past 35 years. The list is compiled by research and data agency Kantar.

1991: Pump up your nostalgia with this classic Sasol TV ad.

The ad was made in 1991 by the Lindsay Smithers agency, now FCB Africa. Its brief was to differentiate Sasol from competitors. It did so by defining a meaningful difference with the payoff line "Pump up your performance".

The creative director, Gaby Bush, says Sasol was a hard client. Its people "were engineers and had big expectations, [yet] they gave us the creative freedom to stick our necks out. But the whole job was very collaborative."

Sasol has brought back the "Glug Glug" line to introduce the brand to a new generation.

Other notable ads on the list are the coffee creamer Cremora and its payoff line "It’s not inside, it’s on top", Sun City’s "We Will Rock You" and the famous ISM elephants ads, along with work for Volkswagen, and a commercial "VW, You and Me". All the ads demonstrate that high-end creativity is critical to success.

Celebrate 35 years of South Africa’s favourite TV commercials with Kantar. These are the adverts that have been chosen as the Best Liked by the South African audience whom we believe to be the most important critic - the person who ultimately chooses to buy your brand or not.

1986: One of the most iconic ads from the 80's ...

1988: Another excellent agvert from VW in South Africa during the 1980s!

"When done well, ads get people talking about that particular brand or campaign, and one should never underestimate the value of ‘talkability’ in today’s increasingly connected world of social media," says Nigel Hollis, chief global analyst at Kantar.

He says that while being liked does not guarantee more sales for an ad, it is the first step in driving awareness and creating an emotional engagement with the consumer. The more emotionally engaging the ad, the more memorable it becomes, making the brand more easily recalled and likely to be chosen.

So what do South Africans love when it comes to watching television? Stories with great local moments — human moments reflecting human truths — and a slice of life.

Kantar says SAA’s 1984 "Birds" commercial is a great example of reinforcing functional benefits while delivering the message in a creative way. "People tend not to remember explicit messages without lots of repetition, and a creative demonstration will help improve memorability."

1984: This iconic ad was created by FCB Joburg for South African Airways, an account it held during the 1970s and 1980s.

The list also contains ads with great music to engage the senses. The VW, You and Me jingle injected emotion to the ad and the employees’ pride in their company was palpable, says Kantar. Ads like the ISM "Elephants", "The Road is Long", and the epic Queen and Sun City "We Will Rock You" are great examples of ads where music added to the power of the creative element.

Vodacom and Coke have the most ads on the list (four and three, respectively); and Ogilvy (with eight) and FCB Africa (with six) are the agencies which feature most.

Until 2001 all the most-liked ads were locally made. Then alco-pop brand Bacardi introduced the famous Tom Cat to TV viewers. That ad was made by McCann Erikson London.

The best-liked ad of 2018 was for work done on the Nando’s brand by M&C Saatchi Abel.

1997: This is an advert for Sta Soft that ran in South Africa in the early 90's

1999: This Sasol ad aired on television two decades ago to delighted audiences with the tagline: "Sasol Super 100 - the first word in performance petrol".

1998: Continuing to entertain South Africans as Vodacom’s on-screen ambassadors, Bankole and De Pina went to the rugby but only one – which one? – got into trouble, again! An eNCA special feature in association with FCB Africa. Celebrating 90 years of iconic advertising.

2000: Don't get too close to the Fiat Palio driver and his car!

2001: Bacardi Breezer TV commercial.

2002: Audi's turtles commercial

2003: Postbank Lobola Ad

2005: Millward Brown named this ad as The Best Consumer Liked Advert of the Past Decade and noting scores for ads flighted on South African TV.

2006: This is the third commercial in a campaign featuring an animated Meerkat for Vodacom. After making a rather debut in 2005, Maurice went on to become popular with teenagers throughout South Africa.