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#OrchidsandOnions Special Section

#OrchidsandOnions: Nomu sparks on social media

Orchid: Proves creativity and humour are just as effective on new platforms; Ad cheapens R1m-plus Jeep by using Photoshopped images

The American Association of National Advertisers recently estimated that online ad fraud totals a staggering $120bn (about R1.9tn) annually.

A few years ago, it said the industry was winning the war against digital fraud, so, no surprise that someone realised that its latest estimates of fraud were embarrassing. It disappeared from cyberspace, although not before more than a few people took screenshots of the original newsletter.

Some advertisers are charged for ads which do not appear at all, including on streaming services where consumers’ TVs are not even turned on, while others get charged by clicks generated by bots and click farms. All that means a significant portion of money spent online goes to waste.

Yet, the medium – and especially social media – can be effective, if used correctly. And the old, “traditional” ad business watchwords of creativity and humour are just as effective on new communication platforms.

Most times I scroll past social media ads, but occasionally a well-scripted, clever ad will give me cause to pause. Two recently show the value of using creative executions in a time, news-related way, on social media.

The first was for one of my favourite brands – favourite because it is quirky, genuine and of good quality – Nomu.

It bills itself on its Twitter account as “a uniquely South African food and lifestyle brand”... and it proved that with its fast, clever reaction to the ongoing state capture saga (which really has only just begun, notwithstanding that the Zondo commission has finished its work).

Pegged to the news of the possible extradition of some of the Guptas from Dubai, it coined the clever phrase “steak capture” to punt its meat seasoning. It added: “For those who like our extradition well done.”

It’s clever, its topical and the design of the ad made it stand out.

An Orchid to Nomu.

The other side of the coin

In many ways, Nomu was taking on the brand which founded the cheeky one-liner, Nando’s.

This week, before we lurched downward into stage 4 blackouts, its social media team posted one plugging its “two free sides” offer. Asking: “Stage 2 got you reaching for amacandlela?”, it suggested rather than reaching for a phone to order two free sides from Nando’s.

Also clever – and also worthy of an Orchid... but at the same time, a warning that even when you are clever, your humour can fall flat.
That might well have been the case when people’s smiles turned to rage over the move to stage 4.

Finally, if you’re going to punt something expensive and eye-catching – as Jeep did on Facebook for its new go-anywhere Gladiator 4x4, don’t cheapen the experience by using faked, Photoshopped images.

Jeep’s vehicle was posed in front of the Drakensberg... clearly manipulated in an amateur way.

If you’re going to all the trouble of launching a R1m-plus vehicle, then at least shoot images of it in real offroad conditions.

Because if you don’t, some might wonder if you have to fake the pics, do you also have to fake the capability?

Onion for Jeep... the advertising, not the vehicle.

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.

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