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Ad Of The Week With Oresti Patricios – Underdog Love Story Meets So You Think You Can Dance

MarkLives.com – 24 April 2013

For many years now, Wimpy has opted for brand oriented campaigns that are highly visual with a strong feel-good factor. In these campaigns the burger people aren’t selling the bun, the patty or the sizzle, they’re selling a brand positioning that’s all about fun.

Way back in 1981 Wimpy had an absurd alien in an equally absurd UFO, coming to Earth to get a burger, only to have his UFO towed for illegal parking. Then there was that ‘free mug’ promotion that had a mug collector showing off his collection, only to have the boom microphone get stuck in the overhead fan, wreaking absolute havoc and destroying the whole collection, candid camera style. And who can forget “I love it when you talk foreign” – the spot that promoted Wimpy’s barista-style coffees? That particular TV ad achieved a massive word-of-mouth factor – at the time everyone was ‘talking foreign’ and mouthing the words: ‘Cremachino, café mocha, and macchiato.

Who can forget “I love it when you talk foreign” – the spot that promoted Wimpy’s barista-style coffees? That particular TV ad achieved a massive word-of-mouth factor – at the time everyone was ‘talking foreign’ and mouthing the words: ‘Cremachino, café mocha, and macchiato.’

Wimpy has a long history in South Africa. The first store was opened in 1967 in Durban, and over the years it became SA’s de facto burger joint, and a part of our national fabric. In those early days one could buy a burger, chips and coke for a mere 60c. Bought from the American mother company in the late 70s by Bakers, it was later sold to Pleasure Foods, who in turn sold the chain to Famous Brands. In 2007 Famous Brands would go on to buy the struggling UK chain of Wimpy restaurants as well.

Since then, extensive rebranding has taken place to unify the SA and UK brands. The bold red-and-white logo is complemented in the UK by ‘Mr Wimpy’ – a big-headed character in what looks like a beefeater outfit, with a red skirt, floppy red hat and medals. Somehow I don’t think we’ll be seeing him here, but then again, I don’t think Wimpy needs a mascot because its local ads are such a hit.

For Wimpy, the advertising aesthetic has normally been to feature very ‘normal’, working class characters, always with a humorous twist – but never in a mocking way. It’s a formula that has enhanced the brand and promoted Wimpy as a place where fun happens.

Draftfcb’s latest spot is a case in point: it features a slightly offbeat young guy, who is filling up at an Engen. He spots the girl of his dreams wimpydrinking a milkshake in the Wimpy, so he cranks up the volume on his car stereo and does a wacky dance to “Got my Mind Set on You”, which is a remake of the old George Harrison song.

The girl notices him, and because his dance is so crazy, she looks quite alarmed. He catches her eye and he thinks he’s clinched the deal. But when he looks again, she’s gone! He’s about to leave when he sees her return to her seat… with a second straw. There is a cute connection moment, and the payoff line is ‘Enjoy the moment.’

The execution is simple but elegantly done, and the commercial movie was directed by Egg Films’ Kevin Fitzgerald, and shot by Alard de Smidt. The styling is very much like a typical romantic comedy: all soft-focus, light and airy. The branding is very subtle, and in the background – although there is no doubt this is a Wimpy at an Engen, it’s not shoved in your face.

The ‘Engen Wimpy Love Song’ spot is not so much about overt humour, but rather about eliciting a ‘feel-good’ response. The protagonists are older teenagers or in their very early twenties, so perhaps it’s also aimed at that demographic, suggesting that maybe Wimpy is a good place for meeting people, or a place where ‘life happens’.

We were looking for the feel-good, underdog-comes-right feeling, the one you get when the star falls in love with the ordinary bloke in the romantic comedy and gives us all hope

Director Kevin Fitzgerald explains: “We were looking for the feel-good, underdog-comes-right feeling, the one you get when the star falls in love with the ordinary bloke in the romantic comedy and gives us all hope. The key element was the balance between the humour of the dance and the delicate moment when she finds herself charmed by his goofiness; balancing the two so that the dance never becomes too slapstick and the romantic moment never becomes too schmaltzy. The danger was that we placed too much emphasis on the humour of the dance and ignored the fact that this is first and foremost a love story, a zero-to-hero story.”

The actors are very well cast – just the right balance of boy-next-door and dream-girl. “It was important that he didn’t feel like a great dancer.” explains Kevin. “I wanted him to look like a complete amateur doing some moves he saw on So You Think You Can Dance, but there needed to be a spontaneity and sense of abandon to him that transcends his lack of skill.”

Let me know what you think.

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