Choosing the best work in advertising is about as risky as being
asked to select the prettiest baby at a charity function. The parents
never forgive you, and the child grows up psychologically damaged and
bearing a grudge.
Real ideas are becoming the exclusive province of the smaller
marginalised bits of business. It’s getting harder to find a known brand
name among any of them.
But there are exceptions, of course.
Coming as absolutely no surprise to anyone here is the TV campaign for
the investment bank, Investec, by Network. It could be that it appeals
to my love of Ealing comedies with Alistair Simm, or perhaps that
vicarious sport of people watching. Shot by Keith Rose out of the
production company, Velocity Africa, it is in the style of a classic
film genre and delivers against a simple human truth for Investec.
The ad points out that you can take the traditional high-risk route and
gamble for big stakes, or take Investec’s route of putting experience
and knowledge before risk. The use of a soft Irish brogue for the
voiceover and the sparse copy is inspired.
I know of at least six of South Africa’s top directors who have worked
on great scripts from Europe’s top agencies within the last year. While
there might be some economic advantage to employing them abroad, the
reality is that they are bringing a fresh eye and spirited attitude to
A good example of this is the Nashua Printers ad, ’Tweetie’, by TBWA
Hunt Lascaris. The ad represents every parent’s worst nightmare - losing
the family pet, which in this case is a canary called Tweetie. The
instant replacement, courtesy of Nashua Copiers, is rammed in the cage
three minutes before the child returns home. Unfortunately, the family
cat, who isn’t in on the scam, scoffs the paper canary. The main brain
behind the camera belongs to Ricardo de Carvalho.
O&M Rightford has produced a campaign for Select Stores which is part of
Shell South Africa. This campaign is bursting with great little cameos
and good production values. My personal favourite is the rave-pumping
snail. He reminds me of a couple of party animals we employed. If the
agency team keep up this standard they’ll be sunning themselves on the
Croisette at Cannes next year.
I don’t think that anyone would consider this a vintage year by South
African standards, with the exception of these ads and a few others. If
I am being self-critical, the ads I have chosen do not reflect South
African society in general. Good as they are, they could appear almost
anywhere in the world.
Steve Richards is creative director of Gitam SA (part of BBDO