If you read my previous contributor piece, "On marketing and speed", you may have started thinking about how the pace at which we operate influences our ability to retain important information. The Invisible Gorilla experiment sums up this premise quite succinctly. [video]
To recap: in short, our perception is often victim to 'black holes', so when we think we see the whole picture, we are only seeing parts. Our mind becomes so focused on one particular element, we overlook the changing nature of the environment that the object of our attention exists in. The latest Santam ad, put together by King James and starring Ben Kingsley, is a fine example of how we can be duped when information changes rapidly.
Fear not. This is not an article aimed at reiterating my original point - just one small element of it. Namely, that brands can fall victim to the same black holes in their strategy if they do not keep up with the pace at which their environments alter.
Worthwhile highlighting two brands
It's worthwhile highlighting two brands that have not only made use of the 'black hole' theory in their advertising, but are awesome examples of how adaptability wins consumer interest and ultimately market share. They have avoided all the pitfalls of being overwhelmed by rapid change and have, instead, embraced change to become truly agile.
When it comes to playing the 'parody card', few can get it right like Nandos. From the "Last Dictator Standing" to "Julius Malema Demanding Change", Nandos has always been at the forefront (some may say abreast) of political satire. Even when it comes to flirting with that precarious line that demarcates competitive advertising (which, by the way, is illegal in South Africa), Nando's leads the race.
So when Nando's last week launched its parody of the latest Santam ad, (if you haven't seen it yet, it's well worth watching), it came as no surprise.
Parody of its own
Nando's has always been agile and, as technology enhances the turnarounds on production time, it has become even better at flighting ads in the immediate wake of the people and events that it satirises. But here comes the real rub... (considering we are talking about Nando's, I feel obliged to mention the previous pun was wholly unintentional)... Santam today, Tuesday, 24 April 2012, has responded to Nando's parody with its own.
When was the last time you saw an insurance company make a parody?
Not only has it responded in lightning time, particularly for a large organisation, it has responded with something that is equally witty and even, some may say, honourable. In fact, its chosen tactic smacks of Yuppiechef's 'Woolworths Coup'*, which resulted in Yuppiechef holding for ransom the Woolworth's Valentine's Day "Lovebirds" promotion URL in exchange for donations to a charity of Yuppiechef's choice.
Two incredible achievements in SA advertising
In short, Santam's "Back at ya" ad is brilliant. Not only for its subtle and reflexive wit, but because it defines two incredible achievements in the history of South African advertising:
Large brands have entered into a running dialogue above the line, using the full-force of faster production times (no doubt made possible by better technology)
Competitive advertising does not spell slander and negativity
Both of the above can be attributed to technology opening up more domains for dialogue and allowing faster response times. Where before it may have taken a couple of months for an above-the-line response to be approved and created, it can now be done in a few days.
Perhaps Auction Alliance could have made use of the latter when the walls came down? Perhaps confident, swift messaging would have helped avoid some of the damage? Perhaps.
Furthermore, the Santam and Nando's dialogue proves that competitive advertising is not necessarily witless mud-slinging. Instead, it can be used to have fun, create interest and make brands achieve that elusive, priceless phenomenon - real personality.
Perhaps it's time that the powers that be reconsider their approach? Because, although competitive advertising may not necessarily be officially taking place above-the-line... it certainly is still taking place.
My feeling is that as technology develops (just look at social media), brands are going to have be comfortable being picked apart and challenged - not only by their competitors but also the customers of their competitors - in real time.
So, if your brand is still avoiding embracing technology, or the exposure of social media, for fear of dissection and criticism, alas, your time is running out. This wave of rapid conversation shows no signs of receding; if Nandos and Santam are anything to go by, it's in full force.
Embrace the change
It's time to embrace the scores of new opportunities technology affords us for dialogue in the public arena. Don't let your brand's strategy fall victim to black holes in perception because things are changing so fast. Instead, embrace the change and negate the chance of being labelled 'a chicken'.
Edward Fisher is a communication specialist at Colourworks Integrated Marketing (www.colourworks.co.za; @Colourworks_CT; Facebook). He specialises in marketing strategy, as well as creative concept generation. Email him at .
in Nandos trying to be 'clever', or whatever you call it, they have managed to sucessfully hide what it is that they are advertising. is it a brand-building ad or a call to action ad? i am one of those brand / marketing people that believe that if a brand is to go out there, it needs to have a purpose in mind, not just create 'noise' for the sake of it because it runs the risk of no one taking it seriously in the future. Posted on 24 Apr 2012 17:19
But let's face it, Nandos is Nandos is Nandos and I would say that a large proportion of our population knows Nandos, likes Nandos, would do anything to get Nandos EVEN if they don't have have a TV, internet or access to this ad. They don't really care, but have been reminded about Zandos again. Di dI say Zandos? Posted on 24 Apr 2012 21:21
Brilliant.This puts both Companies in the limelight and can only do good for the Advertising Industry. Hope Nandos takes up the challange and maybe Santam can give a discount Insurance voucher to all Nandos clients who buy a certain meal.Now that would generate turn over for both companies.COME ON GUYS,TAKE THE BAIT.Anthony Jacobs Posted on 24 Apr 2012 18:22
Really impressed. This shows two big brands who can take it on the chin and stop being so serious as well as investing in the community. Can anyone tell me whether Nando's and Santam are using the same ATL agency? Posted on 25 Apr 2012 08:44
I love it! I just hope Nando's comes back with something about them not using Ben Kingsley in their response. He he he... Just a thought, a la real McCoy not using the real McCoy. Posted on 25 Apr 2012 10:13
i love it. When you see the Nando's add you also remember the Santam ad, so double advertising for Santam. I am also amazed that the decision making was so speedy as to take advantage of situation. I find that decision making in the industry is so time consuming that most of the time the opportunity has long passed to do something relevant. I am looking forward to the Nando's response. Posted on 25 Apr 2012 11:50
fabulous,fantastic stuff,now this is what advertising is all about,Creative and fun.Brand awareness executed in a competitive way.Im so bored of seeing brands waisting money on traditional advertising methods,Cutting edge and creative is what i want to see and both Brands have showed us how its done.Well done to Santam,it was slowly dieing until this commercial. Posted on 26 Apr 2012 11:43
Fun, but dangerous time to connect these two brands, Nandos and Santam. Consumer brains may pick up " Has Nandos teamed up with Santam for protection against claims in case of poisoning? Is all chicken suspect now. like KFC? Maybe we too will see our 8million dollars". Not a good association. Posted on 2 May 2012 10:08
All this discussion is about 'clever creativity' - nothing about branding, marketing strategy, etc. For me Nando's has always been an overpriced and underspiced offering. Borrowing interest (one of the oldest and most futile creative mistakes in the book) especially from an insurance brand is (how yummy is that!) does nothing to brand the product. I doubt if this self indulgent bit of fun (for the agency) has sold one extra helping of chicken Posted on 4 May 2012 16:29
I loved both the Nando's and the Sanlam come back. It was creative, it was witty, it was funny, and it was done in such a light that both campaigns brought positive attention to their brands...and that's exactly the point in any marketing statergy. It's easy to name call and point out the negatives of another company or competitor, but these two companies have managed to raise the advertising bar somewhat and hopefully encourge more positive and humourous advertising. Afterall, we South Africans are known to have a rather good humour!!!! Posted on 3 Aug 2012 11:47
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