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Rugby rules: the good, the bad and the cringeworthy of Ad-land’s attempts at rooting for the Boks

Rugby rules: the good, the bad and the cringeworthy of Ad-land’s attempts at rooting for the Boks
Cashing in on Bok fever: twelve-year-old singer Yonwaba Qetswana, pianist Luca Human, choral conductor Andre van der Merwe, and the wives and children of Springboks, in a Checkers Sixty60 campaign to "Bring it Home". (Photo: Screen grab from YouTube)

Everyone tried to grab our attention. In stores, on T-shirts or on screens, ahead of the RWC final.

You needn’t be a rugby fan to have been caught up in the Rugby World Cup, or its advertising. 

Judging by some social media accounts, even the All Blacks had reservations about Siya Kolisi’s team, with one Wellington-based radio show host likening the Boks to “rugby’s version of a horror movie”, saying “They won’t quit, they won’t die… If you don’t bury them 10-feet deep, they will come back to haunt you.”

According to the host, our Boks are the “zombie apocalypse” to the opposition. 

Even if this “Bokalypse” was a tad over-the-top, everyone wanted to get in on the action, even if it meant printing T-shirts ahead of the game. 

News24 reported that Pick n Pay offered free rugby-themed prints on T-shirts at 12 select stores across South Africa, in support of the Boks.

Customers could personalise their shirts when they purchase a T-shirt in-store, with prices starting at R65 for adults and R39 for kids.

But if you were thinking of purchasing an official match jersey before Saturday, they were like hen’s teeth, according to this report

In September, we reported that authentic Nike Springbok Rugby replica jerseys were in short supply because they were only available in limited quantities at a tiny selection of outlets. Due to rights issues, only a few retailers are allowed to stock them and, in South Africa, that means SA Rugby Shop, Total Sports, Studio 88 and Sportsmans Warehouse. 

Nike – the sole manufacturer and distributor of the official Springbok Rugby jersey – permits only selected outlets to stock the rugby replica goods. 

Rugby fervour delivered

South Africa’s adland certainly bought into rugby fervour and delivered some great – and not so great – ads to remind those of us who couldn’t travel to France to support the “boys” that we were all united behind them (and, it’s all just a game). 

First up was the Springboks’ five-part #StrongerTogether promo videos, airing on DStv. 

They’re all following the same theme, that they’re “doing it” for someone special. Here’s one: 

Checkers Sixty60 – not officially a sponsor – released with this rendition of the national anthem at the end of August, to “Bring it home”, with help from various university choirs, singer Yonwaba Qetswana, pianist Luca Human, plus wives and children of the Boks: 

They also capitalised on some enviable Paris footage, paired with a homesick Bok wife.

LandRover made a series of stirring #RWC-themed shorts:

Retroviral was responsible for an ad for Castle Lager, which doesn’t feature a Bok, but the grandmothers of Bongi Mbonambi, Malcolm Marx and Franco Mostert.

The grans watche the games at home over tea and cake, but say they may as well have a drink or two… which just has to be a Castle, of course. 

Always quick on the draw, NOMU jumped on the bandwagon after the Mbonambi-Curry racism allegations, with a cheeky “Works great with any side of a beef” ad for its Beef Rub – “except Curry, doesn’t work well with curry”.

NOMU was quick to capitalise on curry powder. (Photo: supplied)

About that beef… or was it lost in translation? The alleged racial slur directed at England’s Tom Curry (apparently for being a white ‘c***’, a word that translates directly as “side” in Afrikaans) during last week’s semi-final triggered a raft of memes on social media, with South Africans lustily expressing which “kant” they’re on.

The controversy also encouraged small-time T-shirt entrepreneurs to get in on the action with catchy Bok supporter slogans on green and white T-shirts.

Lose and annoy

But if there’s one way to lose customers and annoy people in advertising, it’s to irritate them. And that, few companies seem to do better than insurance and medical aid comparison site, Hippo. Not only are their agents relentless once you make an online enquiry, but their campaign for the Boks is just … cringe. 

Frans Steyn – recently retired Bok – was roped in here to don a Bok shirt and drive a bakkie, speaking to an arb dude who seems to be its answer to OUTsurance’s Katlego Maboe (and we all know how badly that partnership bombed)

Steyn chastises Mr Whoever, saying, “You mean, I could have saved more than 700 bucks a month?”, with the animated hippo behind showing a quote on a phone screen.

“Out,” he says – apparently in reference to OUTsurance’s prices. 

It’s horrid, horrible and a horror of an advert. DM


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