King James in Cape Town is seeing the value of not jamming their creative idea into a mere thirty seconds with the new TVC for Bell’s Whisky. The online version is a massive 2 minutes, but it’s almost certainly going to be trimmed down to a more affordable media size when it gets flighted in a more traditional environment.

It’s a beautifully produced little story of an old man and his quest to learn to read his son’s book. It’s heart-warming, genuine and completely different from any local advertising we’ve seen up until now.

The most enjoyable thing about it however, is that the client (probably very reluctantly) agreed to lose the awful Bell’s Whisky jingle at the end. Creatively the whole authenticity of the story would have been brutally murdered if you’d spent a minute and fifty five seconds balling your eyes out and feeling a kaleidoscope of heartbreaking emotion , only to end with a cheesy salesman conclude the story with his commercial sales pitch.
Somebody should give that client a Bell’s- it’s just not everyday that a local marketing team have the balls to listen to their agency’s suggested treatment, approve it without messing it up too much and allow them to just get on with it.

Hopefully this is the start of an era of toned down. less hard selling, big production South African advertising. Digital media channels are allowing creative stories to be shared and explored as intimately as the viewer chooses to do. No longer do you need to fit everything you want to say into thirty seconds of somebody’s life. This new freedom is exciting – clients should take off all of their clothes and run and dive into it like drunk teenagers. The agencies are gagging to host the party, you just need to bring the snacks and the booze.

Here’s a look at what happened behind-the-scenes:



Director: Greg Gray, Velocity Films

Production House TV Producer: Helena Woodfine

Executive Creative Director, King James: Devin Kennedy

Creative Director, King James: Mike Wilson

Art Director, King James: Cameron Watson

Agency TV Producer: Caz Friedman

Client Service: Sheri Cook

Other recent examples of great snot en trane advertising:

Thai telecoms ad is spectacular – Cherryflava

P&G’s Sochi Olympic ad sums up what’s good about advertising right now – Cherryflava

BTW – that barber shop in Salt River that is featured in this ad is a perennial favourite of ad agencies. We were involved in the shooting of a TVC back in 2001 that featured the brothers and have see them in countless examples over years. Surely they have a full time agent by now.