SA’s most-liked ads: reading the Covid heartbeat
The lockdown in 2020 had viewers glued to their TV sets, and the commercials they liked best were those that conveyed feel-good messages countering initial anxieties about the pandemic. Later, as people became less stressed, they preferred ads in a lighter vein
It should come as no surprise that SA’s most-liked TV ad of 2020 — for rice brand Tastic — tapped into the themes of community spirit, upliftment and collaboration. In a tough year of lockdown people were looking for messages of hope and a sense of optimism.
During the peak of the lockdown last year, a local study says, people spent an average of four hours and 12 minutes a day in front of their TV sets. That is 70% more than before the pandemic.
Last September Tastic partnered with MaXhosa Africa knitwear founder Laduma Ngxokolo to create limited-edition packaging portraying distinctive beadwork, and collaborated on a five-stop city tour aimed at encouraging citizens to display generosity.
The most-liked list of ads is compiled by consultancy Kantar, and is based on a proprietary testing system that rates all newly flighted commercials. Kantar says the Tastic ad is a tale of resilience, weaving together the feel-good true story of how Ngxokolo got his start in fashion thanks to on the generosity of others.
Says Kantar: "His closing call of ‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’ [I am, because we are] rang true, as it took pandemic-induced isolation to show SA the true meaning of [the expression]." The consultancy says the ad highlighted how brands can use inclusion to boost long-term value by being emotionally different.
"This, in turn, drives short-term sales by making the content more impactful."
The agency behind the campaign was DNA Brand Architects.
Kantar says the insurance company 1st For Women, in a campaign featuring the song My Body (Stand Up), also took a stance of supporting causes and attempting to change society’s thinking.
In this case the ad, by agency Retroviral, relied on a powerful anthem to raise awareness about gender-based violence.
Kantar says the 2020 list of most-liked ads mainly demonstrated how emotional response plays an increasingly important role in consumer decision-making. "This doesn’t mean we should just make ads that entertain, but we do need to be smarter about how we convey functional benefits and evoke an emotional response."
Kantar says an ad from Lifebuoy soap also showed how the pandemic is giving functional, informative ads more relevance and impact.
It points to a public service announcement made by local celebrity DJ Zinhle that promoted washing hands with soap or using alcohol-based sanitiser, for people to fight the pandemic together. The ad was made by the Lowe Lintas agency.
In the latter half of the year, when the country slipped out of the gloom and as summer beckoned, Kantar says the advertising story also brightened. "Savanna’s advert ‘Birds’ made us laugh at the absurd and instead appreciate crisp simplicity." And McDonald’s ‘McCafé’ campaign dealt with the high quality of the chain’s coffee offering.
Kantar’s global Creative Effectiveness Awards 2020 show that audiences are suffering from pandemic fatigue and now want ads to distract and entertain them. "They’re not as sensitive as they were at the start of 2020, so there’s no need to cut back on the funnier side of life, provided you don’t make light of the serious situation."
It adds: "Globally, SA audiences enjoy humorous ads the most."
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