The MTN ‘Blind Bride’ and the Guinness ‘Goodluck Obieze’ TV spots are the two best spots I have seen this year. They struck a cord.
That’s the thing about good advertising. You are never neutral about it. You remember it. And when you remember advertising, if it has the relevant associations embedded, it helps salience. A brand is a sum of all its associations.
In looking at a piece of advertising, I find it to be a convoluted affair separating the marketer in me from the consumer that I am first. It’s more often a curse than a boon. But doesn’t every human have multiple personalities? I suppose as long as the other personality doesn’t run amok in dark hoodies wielding blood-stained scythes, multiple personalities may not be a disorder after all. So, I’ll look at the two spots from both the lenses of a ‘regular’ consumer and then a marketeer.
I like a good twist in ads. But with the MTN spot, the twist was so much more powerful than being just a creative device. It raised all sorts of moral questions in me. I find myself asking myself if I was strong enough to marry someone without sight. If love for me could indeed be blind.
Of course, I quickly banished the question from my mind, reminding my moralising super-ego that, this, after all, was just advertising. A sales pitch. It was MTN trying to get to my pocket through my heart. The sneaky scoundrels!
But the spot is so sweet, so laden with meaning and so inspiring.
I recognise that some of you lot might be unfeeling and heartless dudes and dudettes. You are able to see through a clever emotional con. Lucky you. Me, it’s not only onions that make me cry. I might just as easily shed a tear in the presence of carrots, lettuce and cucumbers.
Of course, in the real world, if the iffy network quality of our telcos is anything to go by, I doubt our charming bride would have made it to the groom smoothly. The persons of some fine guests would have been the recipient of what must surely be good palm wine. But we’ll cut MTN some slack. It promises to never stop working to give us a network we can rely on.
The Guinness ‘Goodluck’ spot was similarly moving. Some of the imagery and words were incredibly powerful. The spot didn’t feel like advertising. It felt like the true story of this amazing guy called Goodluck that Guinness only just happen to be telling.
It’s tough enough finding fulfilment in Nigeriana as an able-bodied bloke. But Goodluck is making it happen despite his handicap.
In truth, I should probably hate the ad for robbing me of the excuse why I’m not where I’d like to be. Which is a place with lots of white sandy beaches and drinks with little straw hats. But this Goodluck chap, he just had to make everyone look lazy. Not cool, mate!
One line in the spot was particularly poignant:
“It was because of the accident I found my wife, I found my team…”
Copywriters should be in jail! They are no better than confidence men!
With the Goodluck spot, this may be the first time that the Guinness Made of More campaign has resonance with Nigerians. Now we finally know what Made of More really means. It connected the brand with the message: Guinness is a beer made of more for people made of more.
Yet the earlier iteration of the campaign in Nigeria was too atmospheric:
“What is Black? Black is not a colour. Black got swag. Black believes…”
It was just a bunch of cliched and patronising lines that didn’t mean a lot. Yea, I’m black and I rock. Tell me what I don’t know.
It is also pleasing to see Guinness shoot a specific commercial for Nigeria. No longer the one-size-fits-all-for-Africa advertising. The benefit is of course stronger brand resonance. Global brand can sometimes lead to global bland.
Both the MTN and Guinness spots make us consider the human condition, something so much genuine than the pure mercantilism of advertising.
Don’t be silly, son. Of course it is still all advertising!
Craft- and imagery-wise, the Guinness spot was a little more compelling. Better picture and cinematography. I gather James Laxton, the cinematographer on the Oscar Best-Picture film Moonlight, came down to Lagos to shoot the spot (For the record, I think Moonlight sucks. Average storyline and average acting by Mahershala Ali. Can’t understand how the movie won Best Picture and Ali Best Supporting Actor). I recognise though that the two spots are different stories and require different treatments. But the Guinness spot is still the better picture.
Ah, it was also great seeing MTN return to good story-telling. We’ve despaired long enough.