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I wrote this piece for The Spark Magazine May Edition titled Total Recall but thought to share it here along with the corresponding videos since they obviously cannot add videos to a Magazine. Lol. It’s an interesting read, and so are other insightful articles from the Magazine which featured The Veteran Ad Man, Steeve Babaeko on its cover. Enjoy!  

Achieving Total Recall is no piece of cake. Naturally, people do not like to be bothered with adverts; it does take a lot of creativity for an ad to attract the attention of the target, let alone sustain it. Howbeit, there are always a few ads that catch our attention and sticks forever. Just like your favorite music and movies, these ads are enjoyed and sometimes replayed, because they were able to establish an emotional connection with the target and leave a lasting impression. They become a fond memory and a part of the target’s life.

One unique feature of a good ad is that they do not feel like an ad! Such exceptional pieces are usually rich in art, storytelling, innovation, and creativity. We conducted in-depth research and have rounded up, in no particular order, the Top 10 Most Memorable Adverts from Nigeria. These are beautiful works of art entertained, informed, and influenced behavioral changes. I hope you enjoy them and learn a thing or two that can help you create advertising that can leave a lasting impression.

1. Peak Milk – Papilo

Almost everyone wanted to be a footballer after watching this advert. Everyone wanted to “make us proud” like Papilo. It is not surprising to get such a fantastic commercial from a category leader, Peak Milk. The Brand effectively utilized its endorsement of Kanu Nwankwo and created a great advert based on his life. You see at that time, Kanu Nwankwo was making Nigeria proud. So the ad used that to sell Peak Milk, suggesting that it is responsible for the strong growth required for a child to grow into an adult that will do the country proud. It felt real, and it was inspiring as well as entertaining. A lot of things worked in this ad’s favor, first Nigerians love Kanu Nwankwo, and they love football as well. Then the storyline, copy and video concept made it an instant hit, it felt like it gave people a glimpse of the football star’s childhood, and the little stunts he pulled even as a youngster made the ad more amazing. Oh and the way the lady that said the name “Papilo” with the Nigerian intonation nailed it. It resonated well, it stuck!

2. MTN – I don port

This is probably the peak of the telecommunication wars in advertising. DDB around 2013 created the ad for Etisalat, taking a shot at MTN using the popular actor, Saka. Rather than respond immediately, MTN plotted the ultimate revenge, which became the most epic stunts ever. They waited to announce the innovative sim port service and recruited the same actor used in shading them, Saka for the advert. With fantastic production, the ad showed Saka in Etisalat colors singing while backing the camera. He turns and transforms, dressed in MTN’s yellow as he screams, “I don port o!”. The same person who preached Etisalat came back singing that he had ported to MTN. That was so spot on! Etisalat almost didn’t recover from this shot, and MTN won the ad war hands down. It was immensely creative and entertaining at the time; the word ‘port’ became a popular slang among Nigerians. The jingle was a fan’s favorite on radio. The ad was everywhere. It made MTN users proud and built brand loyalty as Etisalat users at the time felt attacked. You can learn a ton from this ad, and one of them is strategy and innovation! As at the time, this MTN released this ad, most brands wouldn’t even touch a celeb endorsed by a competitor, MTN broke the rule because the strategy of their ad campaign required it. The real-life story of Saka’s porting to MTN is what gave this ad a lot of traction and believability.

3. Indomie – To me, To you

Indomie has had some of the most beautiful TV adverts. It was difficult selecting between this and the “Mama do good” ad. Both ads are iconic and almost unforgettable. They stole the heart of kids in Nigeria with great music. The “Mama do good” ad features a kid whose mother is popularly referred to as Mama do good by neighboring kids because she prepares Indomie for them.

The “To me, to you” ad, created by TBWA Concept, Nigeria is also captivating with great production and a good story. The entertaining ad features kids waiting for Indomie spending the time singing an inspiring tune. What worked? Two things: The concept and the music! The idea is very relatable, and the music was beautiful! It wasn’t even all about Indomie; it was about making the world a better place. It inspired a lot of kids and adults who downloaded the jingle just for listening pleasure, and to date, the sound of that music still brings back memories of the good old days. I must commend Indomie’s marketing team for their excellent marketing strategy and advertising, which has helped the Brand achieve Total Recall in Nigeria.

4. Panadol Extra – Oga for strong headache

This is arguably one of the best ads to come out of Nigeria. If you are wondering how panado is so popular in Nigeria to the extent that Nigerians mistake it for the name of the category of drugs for pain relief, this might be the reason.  The evergreen ad is probably why Panadol is still relevant today. The ad had a beautiful production at the time, with a compelling narrative, which was very relatable. It tells the story of a character, Solo, who had a workshop, but a headache affected his productivity. Panadol Extra however rescued oga Solo. This is a great ad, and still the best from the Pharmaceutical industry to date. The strongest trait is its local relevance. People with workshops like Oga Solo are prone to having headaches because of the nature of their jobs, by using a character like the everyday Nigerian, the commercial was able to capture the attention of the masses and of course, delivering the ad with a dance and a song in pidgin sealed the deal!

5. Vicks Blue – Baba Blue (Justice)

This is another beautiful ad to come out of Nigeria. Created by SO&U, it features a drama that took place in a court. The lawyer of the defendant was not articulate because of cold and catarrh. He is given Vicks Blue by the Brand’s famous character, Baba Blue which instantly clears his cold. It turns out he wins the case, and his victim is discharged and acquitted. The highpoint is at the end of the short drama when the defendant unknowingly confesses to the crime (I swear I no go do am again) while thanking Baba Blue. The ad did great for Vicks at the time because of its relevance and captivating nature.

6. Guinness – Reach for greatness (Udeme)

Popularly referred to as Udeme, this ad, created by SO & U, is probably the most excellent Guinness Nigeria ad of the last decade. The captivating TV ad produced with a fantastic storyline; a narration by an older man on the aspiration and achievement of his great friend, Udeme. It was so impressive that one would hardly figure that it is a Guinness ad until the end. Jide Alade, on his blog, said; “You know you have a winning ad when society and the target audience appropriate lines from your advertising for daily use. At the bar, you’d hear people tell the bartender ‘Barman, let the beer see the sky.’ Meaning the beer should be opened. “Look out for ‘friendly lights” suggested lookout for signs of a bar. The product, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout itself became known as Udeme. Need i mention, a fascinating feature of this ad is the captivating storyline – a man proud of his friend and telling his story to everyone. While his friend hailed Udeme as the great one, the story also established that with Gulder, there’s a drop of greatness in everyone.

7. Mimee Noodles – Boom Sha Sha

To disrupt the noodles category dominated by Indomie, Mimee noodles had to be direct and creative with its marketing strategy. It had to aggressively capture the attention of the audience, which was well invested in Indomie. DDB helped create the Boom sha sha ad in 2006 which did it for Mimee. It was catchy and trendy; a fusion of drama and music with a clear message. It was well produced, thought out, and entertaining, loved by kids and adults alike. The iconic ad, at the time, helped give Mimee noodles a share of the noodles’ market and achieve total recall. Indomie may still be number one in that category today, but everyone remembers Mimee because of that awesome ad!

8. Skye Bank – I Wish

What happened to Skye Bank with their beautiful adverts? The most remarkable is the “I wish” ad. The advert is a remake of the audio tune of Lighthouse Family’s Free. Created by Centrespread NG, the ad suggests humans at different stages of life wishing for a friend who can help them achieve their dreams. A lot of work didn’t go into TV production, but the music did all the job.

9. Royco – Impossible to resist (Grumpy Husband)

This Royco ad based on the famous saying, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” was an instant hit! Although now criticized by feminists, the 1999 ad was well thought out at the time. It featured a man stressed by work, not on good terms with his wife. He ignores her greeting and rejects her offering of juice. He makes to leave the house but stops as the aroma of the cooking food reaches him. He goes to the dining as his wife brings his plate of food. He smiles, sheepishly. The ad has resurfaced recently as memes on the internet bringing feelings of nostalgia. Apart from the storyline, what made this ad outstanding is the cast. Both characters were good on camera and played their roles well, especially the male character whose facial expressions made the ad both hilarious and believable.

10. Bagco Super Sack – We no go gree

The chant is possibly the most exciting thing about this ad. The storyline was interesting too, set in a local shop where a cement supplier and a store owner disagreed about the type of cement supplied. The store owner and his boys insisted on having only cement in Bagco Super Sack, which resulted in a chant similar to the ones used during a protest. It was a strategic concept that creatively targeted those who suffer from the issues arising from lousy cement bags. By targeting those people, and enlightening them of a better option, store owners, suppliers, and even manufacturers got the message, and the chant along with the name of the Brand stuck in our heads forever.

There you have it! Which of these ads was your favorite?

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