South Africa

Orchids and Onions: A true Case of genius

One of the great admen in history, though by no means a saint or right on everything, was David Ogilvy, founder of the global Ogilvy Group. He and his teams produced some stunning, globally recognised, work over the decades.

So, the Ogilvy Group in South Africa has a lot to live up to. And that they are doing that – and more – occurred to me the other day when I watched Ogilvy SA pay tribute to its Chief Creative Officer, Pete Case.

A man who tends to remain in the shadows a bit and allow his people the moment in the limelight when their work wins awards, Case has overseen a period of immense creative success for Ogilvy SA over the past five years. Since 2014, the group has won more than 600 awards globally, including five best-in-show Loeries Grands Prix, and four Cannes Lions Grands Prix accolades.

In addition, Ogilvy has picked up myriad other mentions, including for the effectiveness of its advertising, in a business sense, which is recognised by the Apex awards. That shows that creativity alone is not enough – ads have to move widgets.

Looking at the mini-showreel Ogilvy SA posted on social media while doffing their hats to Case, I was struck by how many of the ads featured there have also won Orchids from me. And I don’t look at clever for clever’s sake, as many in the industry do. I look at ads that entertain and push products or messages. And, Pete Case’s team have done plenty of those.

The one piece of work from the reel which I love is for VW’s new Polo, which came out about a year or so ago and, no surprise, got an Orchid from me.

We see the new intern at “Spacecom”, the ficitious company which does “things” in space.

Confident and cocky because he’s in his new Polo, he parks in a reserved spot and the company bigwigs take him for the expert who’s going to sort out all their orbital space station problems.

He doesn’t get a chance to tell them otherwise and, before you know it, he’s in a space suit, blasting off towards the space station where, in zero gravity, he sees the “red button thingy” … and has no idea what it does.

This might be a good time, to tell everyone, says the ad, that you’re just the intern. It ends with what looks like a massive space explosion … courtesy of the “red thingy”.

The tagline is great “VW Polo – beware the confidence”.

The ad sums up that relaxed, easy, yet professional way Ogilvy has been doing VW (and Audi) ads for years. They’ve become part of our local marketing landscape. And that is in no small measure thanks to people like Case and the others before him.

Long may it continue, Pete. Here’s your personal Orchid … and another for your Group.

Many years ago, timeshare almost led to a divorce in our household. My wife accepted an invitation to a “presentation” because the person making it swore blind it was “not timeshare”. Of course it was, and my comments about gullibility perhaps didn’t go down too well.

I still pride myself on being able to pick up a timeshare scammer from half a universe away … and love to grill and grill them until they finally break down and admit what it is.

No such opportunity occurred with the telesales person who called me recently to ask me if I was interested “in vacation and holiday opportunities”. Is this timeshare? I asked, fully expecting ducking and diving. Yes, she said, it is a “form of timeshare”.

Somehow, I listened, perhaps because she was honest. I told her I couldn’t make a decision then, that I would have to talk to my wife (of course) and that she should call me back the following day. She never did.

So, to the group which runs Mount Amanzi Resort near the Magaliesberg (among others), you get a double Onion. First for trying it on with the old “vacation opportunities” and “attend a presentation” scams. The Onion is because many people won’t let you get your foot in the door because of the stigma attached to timeshare.

But the second, Lost Opportunity Onion goes to whoever trained your call centre person. I never got a call-back and I genuinely was interested in at least checking it out.

Finally, there was a second happy ending to my happy ending story from last month, where I left my camera bag (and expensive bits inside it) at the Mugg and Bean in Mulbarton and returned the following day to find waitress Thurah Ncube, who served me, had kept it safe.

So, I was pleased to find out – belatedly (my fault) – that the Mugg and Bean has also rewarded Thurah for her honesty.

Brendan Seery.

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