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Kantar announces South Africa's Top 20 Best Liked Ads of 2021

Kantar's Best Liked Ads celebrates South Africa's favourite TV commercials. These are the ads that have been rated as the best liked by the South African audience, whom we believe to be the most important critic - the person who ultimately chooses to buy your brand or not.

Looking back, 2021 was the year South Africa’s resilience was tested like never before. According to Sarah King, Kantar’s global head of brand, in times of disruption, things that are familiar are reassuring. Brands became an emblem of normality for people. Even at the height of it all, people did not want brands to stop advertising. They just wanted them to stop advertising in clichés.

The auto category really took this to heart in 2021. With no clichés in sight, eight car-themed ads drove into the table with everything from the funny (Toyota Corolla Cross ‘Prequel’, ‘Robots’, and ‘Robots – Hatch’) and the family feel-good (VW Tiguan ‘Family never looked this good’ and VW Golf 7’s ‘For the love of the drive’) to the entertaining (Toyota Rumion’s ‘More room for fun’), the aspirational (Audi Q3 ‘Sportback’) and the downright nostalgic (VW Golf GTI’s ‘Vrrr pha’). We haven’t seen this much automobile action on the list since the first recession took hold, so people are clearly dreaming big, if not actively considering one of the most important life purchases.

Simple, strong storylines resonate

This ties in with the top findings from our creative testing, which reveals South Africans appreciate simple linear storylines that follow a strong narrative. Brands left nothing to the imagination and told bold stories that serve as a reminder at the moment of purchase. Adidas’ ‘Impossible is nothing – Lionel Messi’ by Sockeye tapped into the power of sport to unite the world, making it South Africa’s Best Liked Ad of 2021.

Food advertising is a favourite for SA, and sensorial visuals in everything from the pouring and preparation scenes in Clover’s ‘Mooo Fresh’ and Lucky Star’s ‘Rise’ as well as the critical moment of taste enjoyment, reinforces the overall experience we see in McDonald’s ‘Nazo meals’ and Coca-Cola’s next-gen ‘Taste of no’ ads.

The good old-fashioned love story from Spec-Savers’ ‘Vision sees the future’ shares a sentimental and romantic slice-of-life nostalgia, while other brands made use of impressive influencers and celebrities, with ‘Dove Men Care + featuring Siya Kolisi’ to help tell their brand story.

Who, what, where, why, when and how. A brand story checklist for you.

    - Who: Is everyone’s role in the ad clear? Have you shown the collective in the ad? Did everyone respond or react as you would expect them to in real life?
    - What: The action on screen needs to be easy to follow and understand, as well as realistic. What are you saying about your brand?
    - Where: Is your story going? Is your setting inspiring or as expected? If it is as expected, has the story shown a day in the life of your consumer?
    - Why: Should they use this product? Is the reason to believe and benefit illustrated effectively? Has voice-over clarified anything the audience could misunderstand?
    - When: What is the timeframe? Is the story set in the past, present day or future? Is it advertising a short-term special offer or a brand refresh?- How: Is this how it would really happen? Could the story be misunderstood to mean something else?

All seemingly obvious, but that’s where brands tend to come undone. It’s little wonder then that some of the best-liked creative work followed these insights.

In a year where we needed to reconnect post the great lockdown, the familiarity of gatherings and reminding us of what really matters was the underlying theme of McDonald’s ‘Favourites – make a feast of it’, Spur’s ‘Freedom Day’, Sta-Soft’s ‘New Sta-Soft with longer-lasting fragrance’, and even Coca-Cola’s ‘Uplift: Internet Café’, all backed by a catchy beat.

“Covid-19 has served as a news story, a social trauma and a personal life event because we lived through it. As our social, functional and emotional needs have shifted, so has the need for brands to display empathy, imagination and courage. The brands that are winning audiences’ hearts and minds in South Africa are the ones that simply understand how people are feeling and how your brand can play a stronger and more active role in their lives,” concludes Natalie Botha, Head of Media and Creative, Insights Division, Kantar.

Congratulations to the following brands and agencies:

#1 ad for 2021


#2 ad for 2021

Ogilvy South Africa

#3 ad for 2021

FCB Joburg

The Top 20 Best Liked Ads of 2021

RankAdCreative Agency
1Adidas - “Impossible is nothing – Lionel Messi”Sockeye
2VW Golf GTI - “The power of vrrr pha”Ogilvy South Africa
3Toyota Corolla Cross - “Corolla Cross prequel”FCB Joburg
4VW Golf - “For the love of the drive”Ogilvy South Africa
5Audi Q3 - “Sportback”DDB Barcelona
6Coca-Cola - “No sugar: enjoy the taste of no”Mercado McCann Argentina
7McDonald’s - “Favourites – Make a feast of it”Pacinamix
8Coca-Cola - “Uplift: Internet café”FCB Africa
9Toyota Corolla - “Corolla robots – Hatch”FCB Joburg
10Spur - “Freedom Day”99c
11Sta-Soft - “New Sta-Soft with longer-lasting fragrance”Wunderman Thompson South Africa
12Clover - “Clover Fresh Milk, Mooo Fresh”Joe Public
13Toyota Corolla - “Corolla Cross Robot”FCB Joburg
14Spec-Savers - “Vision sees the future”Brandright
15McDonald’s - “Nazo meals”Pacinamix
16Dove Men - "Dove Men + Care featuring Siya Kolisi"Tag Worldwide
17Lucky Star - “Rise”One Agency
18Toyota Rumion - “More room for fun”FCB Joburg
19VW Tiguan - “Family has never looked this good”Ogilvy South Africa
20Vicks - “RSA family sleep”Publicis Singapore

Click here to view a PDF of all the ads.

Kantar’s Best Liked Ads list is based on our Adtrack newcomer measure, which is the first in-market measure approximately two weeks post-launch for all new brand commercials flighted.

About Adtrack™

Adtrack™ is Kantar's proprietary advertising testing system, evaluating the impact, and liking of all brand advertising in South Africa for over 35 years. The resultant database stands at over 100,000 TV adverts tested, and more than 1,1 million interviews conducted, making this database one of the largest of its kind in the world. Find out how your creative and media benchmarks against the competition! Adtrack is the most comprehensive and sophisticated post launch evaluation and planning efficiency tool available. A commissioned Adtrack study offers deeper insight and understanding on the performance and effectiveness of your ads. Through the use of Kantar’s Media Optimiser tool, we are able to recommend the optimal future flighting of ads, to maximise your return on investments. Adtrack studies are available across all media channels.

About Kantar

Kantar is the world’s leading evidence-based insights and consulting company. We have a complete, unique and rounded understanding of how people think, feel and act; globally and locally in over 90 markets. By combining the deep expertise of our people, our data resources and benchmarks, our innovative analytics and technology we help our clients understand people and inspire growth.

For enquiries about Adtrack contact:

Chris Nortje
Client relationship director

For enquiries about the Best Liked Ads contact:

Ilse Dinner
Head of marketing communications, Middle East and Africa

9 Jun 2022 11:09