The Red Zone – 30 August 2013

The advertising efforts of a wide variety of alcoholic brands were put to the test today in our Adforum panel discussion with media smarts Andy Rice, Jonathan Deeb, Rob van Rooyen, Larry Khumalo, and with Legend Manqele representing the youth.

Larry Khumalo from Ornico provided key trends and sat on the panel for today’s Adforum: Cheers to Booze. With the threat of impending clampdown legislation on the horizon, we were surprised at the amount of red cards handed to alcohol advertising ads by our audience today

Larry Khumalo from Ornico provided key trends and sat on the panel for today's Adforum: Cheers to Booze For those who don’t know, our audience members who comprise of top-notch marketing executives from the industry are each given a red and green to vote for an ad after a panel discussion. Ads that don’t resonate get the red with green meaning ‘It works for me!’

Alcohol trends with Larry Khumalo

Khumalo kicked off the session with a trends talk that delivered key highlights of the alcoholic advertising industry as well as how South African society as a whole reacts to ‘alcohol’ in general.

According to Ornico’s data, Castle Lite takes the lead when it comes to advertising spend, with a massive R85 million in advertising spend. The judges found the brand ‘consistent’ in its messaging holding their own in their category. While their ad entitled Unlock Extra Cold Refreshment with Castle Lite and M.O.P showcased at today’s Adforum was given the red card as a result of being ‘done before’ and reminiscent of Heineken, the brand as a whole does function in a space of heightened awareness in the minds of consumers. Castle Lite is also known for their strong digital presence, social media being a channel on which Khumalo states is the go-to tool for alcoholic brands to get their message out there.

On a social and political level, Khumalo says that there’s a rising consciousness of alcohol consumption with celebs and politicians getting caught driving under the influence.

Irresponsible fun behaviour

Captain Morgan’s ‘missing’ ad which depicts a bunch of mischievous guys leaving arb doppelgangers at home to fool their wives into thinking that they are still at home was labelled a fun ad which van Rooyen found entertaining. It does however highlight a trend of irresponsible boy behaviour that most ads seem promote.

Khumalo thought that the ad might be offensive to women at home who might enjoy the drink and who also go out to have fun. While some women agreed with this at face value, when it came to voting, the ad got a sea of green. Maybe some women like their boys naughty? Each for her own.


Savanna’s dry humour in the advert Moose was appreciated by the panel and audience. Andy Rice commended the writing of the ad and also labelled the brand as one that has skilfully built consistency over the years, much like Castle Lite is doing now.

A broader inclusive mindset

While Khumalo though the ad might not resonate with black people, step in Manqele to represent the youth stating that brands should not be thinking in the white/black demographic. Ads should be tapping into a broader, more common mindset that, believe it or not can be shared by people of different races.


Johnny Walker’s Strider advert brought our South African history back to focus using imagery of our country gaining its political freedom and democracy. As powerful a concept as this is, it has been done before.

If more people realise that a commercial is a ‘Castle Lager ad’ from the first few seconds, is this not a great cohesive brand identity?

Growing up with brands

The Nederburg ad featured on Adforum was labelled by Rice as being ‘awful’. While van Rooyen thought that wines are about legacy and telling a story Manqele stepping in again stating that brands need to “Show the youth what brands they can aspire to,” adding “I want to grow up with a brand.”

Classy Sophistication with the relatable factor

The Oudemeester Masters ad featuring Jamie Foxx seemed to be the showstopper as it showed sophistication and class yet seemed natural and not put on. All the judges agreed with this sentiment.

In a previous Redzone interview with the SA brand manager of Oude Meester Genius Mynwabe described the aspirational nature of the brand defining a modern day master, “A modern master is person that does not only respect the history and great people of yester year, but also a person who strives to make their own history and leave a legacy in their sphere of influence. He is a person that has timeless values, has substance, authenticity and enjoys the finer things in life like our premium quality brandy.”

Ticking all the checkboxes, the advert exudes who the brand is in the most natural and engaging manner. This is what the advertising industry asks all brands to do, be yourself in the most engaging way possible. These are the stepping stones to building a legacy with a large mass of loyal followers. If you are Snoop Dog one day and Snoop Lion the next, you can throw your brand building attempts out the window.

Today’s Adforum was a greatly successful event. For alcoholic brands however, the future is blurry and resonance at this point in time will be key to grabbing what market share you can before alcohol advertising goes under, assuming it happens.