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#OrchidsandOnions: Banking on the Boks

FNB shares an Orchid with Grid for a thought-provoking advert, while Checkers gets half an Onion for trying to put lipstick on chemical pigs called 'beers'.
Screen grab from the ad.

One of the most memorable moments of the second weekend of the Rugby Championship was the joy on the face of Springbok scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, as he flew over the line for the try which enabled a last-gasp draw against the All Blacks.

It was one of those “Yes we can!” moments, which reminded us we still have the sporting potential to be top dogs.

Despite the fact we’ve won two Rugby World Cups, it is sometimes difficult to conjure up memories of those halcyon days of 1995 and 2007.
Lack of achievement since then – not only in rugby, but in national sport generally – has meant many sports fans are often overcome by a leaden cloud of cynicism. The dismal performance by the Proteas at the recent Cricket World Cup did nothing to brighten that national pessimism. For many people these days, it’s not a question of whether the glass is half-full or half-empty, it’s that the glass has been broken…
What teams need is support – not just in the good times, but in the bad, or unlucky, too.

That’s what England’s cricket supporters, the Barmy Army, have shown.

So, as we head towards this year’s Rugby World Cup, we can expect the sponsors of the national team to step up their support, too… and, hopefully, do a bit of brand building at the same time.

#FairnessFirst: SuperSport's Springboks ad shows SA is stronger together

In a week where nation-building was top of mind as we both celebrated Mandela Day and mourned the passing of Johnny Clegg, a certain South African sport-supporting ad also gave us all the feels...

By Leigh Andrews 22 Jul 2019

As I’ve said before though, if the patriotic siren call is not done properly, it can seem cheesy and add to, rather than detract from, the sense of national gloom.

That’s why I think the latest campaign for First National Bank – around a call to fans to send messages of encouragement to the Boks – is so appealing.

Executed by the agency Grid, it features interviews with great Springbok names from the past, including victorious World Cup captains Francois Pienaar and John Smit, 1995 hero Chester Williams and a member of the 2007 champion squad, wing Akona Ndungane.

All of them come across very well, speaking in a relaxed way that looks unscripted (I don’t know if it actually was) and, because of that, sincere.

FNB Springboks Rugby World Cup campaign

FNB, proud partner of the Springboks, looked to 'the make it mean something company' Grid Worldwide, to bring to life their platform of help for the Springboks ahead of Japan 2019...

Issued by Grid Worldwide 29 Jul 2019

Their message is, simply: we knew we had all South Africans behind us, and that is why we could rise above our own limitations and beat the best in the world.

The comments are interspersed with images of joyous crowds and with the current Bok team. The final image, of the Boks in a huddle, has the punchline: “Words change the game”.

Fans are urged, then, to share their words with the team. It’s simple, but it’s effective.

But what really made it for me was the decision to shoot everything – bar the “Words change the game” graphic – in black-and-white. It lends a gritty, documentary air to the piece, emphasising that this (being champions of the world) was our history – and it can become so again.

Also, it subtly makes the point that it is black and white that make up this country.

Orchids to FNB and to Grid for the reminder that we are not as bad as we think we are.

Normally, I like the advertising (print and TV) done by Checkers – it is often beautifully executed (especially when it comes to food) and it also includes a strong call to action or push-to-purchase message.

I realise that marketing is all about taking advantage of current events, or even inventing your own, so I wasn’t fussed about Checkers Liquor Shop’s announcement that it was celebrating “International Beer Day”. In fact, it made me sit up and take notice.

Checkers launches new collectables promotion - Little Checkers

Following on from its Little Shop and Little Garden promotions, Checkers has launched its Little Checkers collectables...

7 May 2019

As part of the Checkers celebration, its ads are celebrating “some of the world’s best beers” and offering specials on them… like Flying Fish and Castle Lite.

Sorry, Checkers, by no stretch of the most generous imagination of any person who knows, or loves, beer, can those be described as “some of the best in the world”.

So, you get half an Onion for trying to put lipstick on those chemical pigs.

It’s only a half Onion, though, because even I couldn’t fail to notice the almost unbelievably low prices: R100 for 12 Flying Fish and less than R140 for 24 Castle Lite. And I realise, that, by the time people read this, most of those will have flown off the shelves.

In the print ads, too, I did notice there are some “proper” beers on special – like Windhoek.

#OrchidsandOnions: Cheers, from the lads, to Windhoek Lager - but, FNB, How the Hell can we believe you?

Beer is, for the most part, a product for men. They are, by far, the majority of its consumers and, therefore, the advertising is generally directed at them. And over the years, beer advertising as a genre has generated some good ads and some shockers...

By Brendan Seery 15 May 2018

And, since you ask, the Namibian beer is my preferred ale.
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About Brendan Seery

Brendan Seery has been in the news business for most of his life, covering coups, wars, famines - and some funny stories - across Africa. Brendan Seery's Orchids and Onions column ran each week in the Saturday Star in Johannesburg and the Weekend Argus in Cape Town. Contact him now on