Everything About One Of 2017’s Most Ambitious Ad Campaigns

Updated on 20 December 2017

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Hip-hop artist Khuli Chana

The One Source‘ Absolut campaign, featuring South African hip-hop artist Khuli Chana, was one of the biggest advertising campaigns this year, running on various platforms from radio, television and social media across the continent.

As of August this year, the music video racked up 754 908 views, total combined media impressions reached a staggering 556 580 741, and total earned media value came to R60 936 557.

How did they get that right?

Native VML‘s Ryan McManus, one of the brains behind one of the most ambitious ad campaigns of the year, says their goal was to shine the spotlight on African creativity.

“I think this project was unashamedly and unapologetically African. It questioned African identity,” says McManus.

“People are tired of seeing the stereotypical view of Africa. We challenged the status quo, found a new voice and aesthetic, and the work looked and sounded amazing.”

“All I brought to the partnership was my authenticity” – Khuli Chana

Here are 8 things you should know about the makings of the campaign.

THE BRIEF was to develop a campaign around the MTV MAMA sponsorship property while also launching Absolut’s One Source product intrinsic and making it relevant to Africa. “This meant that we had to be brave. I honestly don’t think the world needs yet another sanitized piece of branded content. So we really pushed it, questioned everything, and had amazing trust from the clients,” says McManus.

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THE CAMPAIGN comprised of a concept video and album and short documentaries. “From the outset, we wanted to create a piece of popular culture rather than an ad campaign,” says McManus.

THE INSPIRATION The campaign is packed with African references which span the entire continent. It features other African music heavyweights like South African alternative and indie musician KayGizm, American-born Kenyan singer, Victoria Kimani and Ghanaian hip-hop recording artist, Sarkodie.

THE PHILOSOPHY “This campaign really is about reminding people that we all come from ‘One Source’. That no matter what is happening in a world filled with Xenophobia, racism, and idiot presidents making travel bans and building walls, we need to remember that we are all connected as human beings and all come from one source.

“From the outset, we wanted to create a piece of popular culture rather than an ad campaign,” – Ryan McManus

“As Africa is recognized as the birthplace of humanity, we turned One Source into a concept album that set out to remind people that we are all connected. We designed the campaign to be part of the revolution against this divisive rhetoric, where creativity is the weapon with which to create a better more united world,” says McManus.

THE STAR: KHULI CHANA “It’s very rare that you find brands endorsing musicians, that’s what jumped at me. Absolut was interested in endorsing me, they were inspired by my musical journey,” says Chana. “I got profiled in new territories, toured Africa with my music, my song charted [in] over 11 countries, did collaborations with some amazing artists, commercials, a music video, billboards on every prime location, a limited signature bottle, presented at the MTV Africa Awards, hung out with the global team at the Grammy’s and we recently won a Gold Cannes Award in the South of France. All I brought to the partnership was my authenticity,” he adds.

WHY KHULI CHANA Chana was an easy pick for the campaign, says McManus. “Khuli is an amazing artist, and instead of the usual way a celebrity endorses a brand, we wanted to rather flip that and get Absolut to endorse Khuli.

Khuli also is a Motswako originator, aligning perfectly to the essence of the brand. He is about tapping into his own source of creativity and not being derivative of other styles, where we see so many people just copying whatever is going on in the US. We collaborated really openly with Khuli to create the album and videos, and this was such a key ingredient to putting meaning into everything we did,” says McManus.

THE ACCOLADES The campaign was lauded at every competition it was entered into including Cannes, Loeries and Bookmarks. “And even more importantly, we have managed to double the size of the brand in under 2 years”, says McManus.

Native VML was also recognised for the locally-produced work at this year’s Cannes Lions, perhaps the most prestigious festival in advertising. They were not the only South African agency to get the nod. South African agencies collectively garnered 27 Lions, and the first Grand Prix win for a South African agency ever.

Watch: A Behind-The-Scenes Look At One Of The Most Ambitious Campaigns of 2017

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