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Retail advertising under the spotlight

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This month retail advertising was under the spotlight at the Financial Mail AdForum, in association with Ornico.

A series of print, radio and television adverts from the retail industry were critiqued by a panel consisting of Havas CEO Lynn Madeley, Joe Public’s Xolisa Dyeshana, TBWA’s Sean Donovan and Ornico’s Mongezi Mtati.

The first ad on the agenda was a television spot from Checkers featuring Gordon and Matilda Ramsay. The commercial opened with the statement that many parents felt guilty about what they fed their children. The panel agreed that Gordon Ramsay was a good fit with the brand. Healthy, compelling, authentic work, said Dyeshana. Mtati, however, pointed out that for consumers who did not know who he was, the ad would mean nothing. Donovan said the ad worked because Checkers was trying to move up in terms of quality and LSM appeal, in its advertising as well as its new store formats, which showed delivery on brand promise.

The panel deemed a Clicks print ad for the Clicks ClubCard too busy – an impediment to clear communication, Donovan noted. Too many icons and too many messages, and the ad did not explain what the Clicks card did.

CNA’s television advert for Father’s Day received a lambasting from the panel. Madeley said the ad was depressing in terms of how hard it tried while still missing the mark. She added that the ad was typical of the work of marketers who had a shotgun approach and a strategy that was still very much above the line with other media bolted on at the end, and a fractured result. Donovan pointed that you should not start a conversational engagement and then interrupt it with a hard sell.

A print advert from Game was viewed favourably by the panel – on-brand and exactly the type of broadsheet advertising one would expect from Game. But when a typo was pointed out by a member of the audience, it was noted that such a mistake could diminish brand currency. It was also noted that the communication about Game store cards should perhaps have been left out and handled in a separate piece of communication.

There’s no mistaking the voice of radio ad personality Luci Hirsch for those familiar with it. Madeley commented that though you may laugh at her, a Hirsch advert was always recognisable. However, the panel pointed out that a single product and single price worked best on radio – and this ad had so much going on that it was impossible to remember anything except the voice. Mtati argued that while FNB’s “Steve” adverts were as memorable in terms of the voice and character, their messaging was sticky, whereas in this case the advertising is not memorable.

Makro’s television advert “Big on life” was not a favourite with the judges, who argued against the premise that Makro could make life successful, as the ad proposed. Both Madeley and Donovan initially thought the ad was for a financial services firm. The panel called the ad clichéd, and Dyeshana added that it was inauthentic.

A Pick n Pay advert was well received by the panel, particularly in terms of the soundtrack. This was evidence, Madeley said, of how important music was in an advert – it is all too often bolted on at the end and given little in terms of budget. Dyeshana commended King James on the advert and the agency’s retail methodology.

Then came a television advert for a beauty extravaganza run by Shoprite, which uses TV personality Pearl Modiadie as brand ambassador. Dyeshana was adamant that the ad worked, arguing that she was a style icon and the target market loved her. Mtati pointed out that Modiadie may not have been the right choice as she usually talked to a younger market, and Shoprite’s market was somewhat older. Madeley also mentioned that she thought the ad was for fashion as opposed to beauty products, and if one was not familiar with Pearl, the ad meant nothing. It led to some debate around using brand ambassadors authentically. Dyeshana liked the ad: just because people were poor did not mean one should communicate with them only about cheap products, he said, adding that he liked it that the ad celebrated beauty.

Spar’s TVC, made by TBWA, received positive feedback. The soundtrack was well received while Madeley made particular mention of the fact that that a man was cooking, thus breaking traditional stereotypes. Mtati said story, narrative, product and price were all in balance. The panel said the ad made consumers feel good about shopping at Spar.

The final ad of the morning was a radio spot for Woolworths. The panel agreed that the voice-over didn’t work, and nor did the complicated messaging. They also questioned why radio was used to communicate with card holders, as the essence of the brand’s relationship with them indicated more depth and intimacy, and communication would have been better conducted on a one-on-one platform.

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