You’ve probably already enjoyed the talents of international movie star Idris Elba in the local Oude Meester ‘Mastery in the Making’ brandy ad, but we thought it a good idea to ask Alexis Beckett at 140 BBDO in Cape Town a few questions about the ad and advertising in general:

– It’s clear that you are shifting the brand from ‘Oude’ to more ‘Meester’ – how are you doing that?

The quality of the product has always been beyond question, but the brand itself stuffy and out-of-touch. In the previous campaign we moved the brand into this century by making it relevant to today’s consumer. We identified the head on the bottle as the old master, Benjamin Franklin & used Jamie Fox, a contemporary international master to tell that story. In essence, the acknowledgement of the old master by the new.

In this phase we’re evolving the campaign, bringing mastery back home to South Africa.

Again we have an international master, Idris Elba – the coolest dude in the world no less, but this time he’s accompanied by an up-and-coming South African. A master in the making. Yeah sure Idris is impressive, but here we learn that true mastery has the humility to learn, as he attempts to crack the vernacular, fails, and then gracefully accepts the younger man’s guidance. The TV ad segues neatly into our activation platform, #MasteryInTheMaking .

– Has the shift been successful so far?

Definitely. All variants are performing extremely well after a month’s flighting. Souverein, the top variant is pretty much always sold out.

– What is it like to work with big international stars?

My work partner & I compiled lists of eligible dudes. That sounds weird, that’s why I stressed ‘work’ partner. We are huge Luther fans too. Initially it’s intimidating, but soon that gives way to professionalism. If anything it’s reassuring to confirm that our standards in SA are world class.

Idris would pretty much nail his line in the first take. From there it became more about variations. Kudo’s to Siya Radebe for doing us proud.

– How has the industry changed in the last five years?

You can’t just do a TV ad any more. An idea has to have legs way beyond its creators’ scope of expertise. It’s much more about integration & collaboration than ever before. That is, collaboration with other creative people and also with our audience.

– Who is your dream client?

Someone who is prepared to make a decision. Someone who wants to supplement their expertise with my expertise. Someone who is challenging and up for a challenge. Who has integrity. But most of all, I want to work with clients who are madly ambitious.

– What do you wish you could tell clients, but never do?

Sometimes it’s best not always to say everything that comes to mind, but have a pretty good rapport with clients. So maybe I would remind them of the stuff they already know, i.e. That we have the brand’s best interests at heart.

– If you had the power to change just one thing in South African advertising, what would it be?

We don’t all like the same things, but what we like, we like passionately. So why are a lot of brands afraid of polarising themselves?

So I’d like to see more brands I really love or really hate.

– As a senior creative director at one of South Africa’s top agencies you help build your client’s brands all the time, how do you continue to build a great advertising agency brand in 2014?

It all comes down to the work.

If the work sells, the client is happy.

If the work is award winning, agency creatives are happy.

If the work does both, you have an agency which will attract the best clients as well as the best talent.