South African agencies can afford to be more edgy
Date: 16/07/2019
Writer: Danie

Advertising is a highly competitive industry in South Africa. With so many agencies of various sizes competing for the lion’s share of the audience, South Africans can easily get lost in the swarm of adverts they get bombarded with every day. To stand out from the crowd, agencies need to become a little more edgy and grab the audience’s attention.

Average advertising campaigns with cringey jingles and lame catch phrases won’t win over an audience. Consumers are becoming experts at blocking out and ignoring most of the adverts they see. It’s a case of too many messages and not enough clout.

If agencies are going to stay relevant and succeed in the future, they need to inspire action and hit the consumer with some fire and flair. Agencies can afford to be more edgy in South Africa; finding a sense of humour and speaking to the audience in a tone to which they can relate.

The days of politeness and soft-selling are gone

Those adverts that position a brand as overly-friendly and helpful are not as effective anymore. Audiences can see through fake slogans and actors with whitened teeth. Too many agencies are still trying to soft-sell brands through happy and fuzzy television adverts. The messages are the same – “we’re here for you”, “trust in our friendly employees” and “your happiness is our priority”.

The best way to stand out now is to take risks. Agencies don’t need to hold back; they should be more direct and in-your-face if they are going to make the consumer sit up and pay attention. Being real about issues is the first step to getting the audience on your side.

Nando’s sums this up and proves a point. By tackling issues of race, politics and black economic empowerment (BEE) in their advertising campaigns, the brand has formed a reputation for being no-nonsense and upfront. People remember their adverts; they get consumers talking and they use a good dose of humour to remind South Africans why the county is so unique.

Edgy adverts are the most memorable

To be effective, you need to be memorable. The consumer needs to have your brand at the top of their mind. Being edgy is the best way to have an impact on the consumer. Another tactic to stand out from the competition is to call them out in your adverts.

One of the best examples of this subtle shade-throwing came from Netflix. Their Man in a Van advert had consumers laughing at the complexities of owning a DStv account. Netflix not-so-subtly called out their rival, DStv, in a bid to show consumers how easy it is to sign up and own a Netflix account.

This cheeky approach can also be seen in the advertising war between Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar. There’s no harm in making fun of your competitors through a bit of good banter and audiences love it. They get involved and these types of adverts often go viral online.

Agencies who are not afraid to push boundaries will be victorious. They will stand tall among the field of agencies and distinguish themselves above the rest. Being edgy does come with risks – if done insensitively or by going too far, agencies can land up in legal trouble or alienate their audiences.

However, in a fight for market share, South African agencies do need to start taking more risks and trying new approaches. They need to embrace their edge, use their voice and take a competitive stance in order to win over consumers.

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