Case Study: White Bull Lager

 

 
 

Case Study: White Bull Lager

The unusual partnership between one of the world's largest breweries and the world's newest country.

South Sudan has recently started producing alcohol for the first time in decades, after seceding from the Islamic North. SABMiller needed an innovative way to launch South Sudan's first domestic lager - in a country where poor infrastructure limits media operations.

Adland: 

Comments

I realize I'm not the target, but I'm going to try to place myself into another's shoes.

Does it make me want to buy their beer? No.

Why? Because it's a confusing message. The first thing I see is three very serious looking military men with an automatic rifle. The takeaway? Either "Buy this beer or else." OR "We're drunk and mean and now we're going to go shoot some shit up." Either way, I don't want to associate with the brand on any level.

Then I watch the video. It's a boring, poorly voiced classroom film, and spends 5 minutes talking about the Sudan army and its struggle over tyranny. It refers to beer as "alcohol", which doesn't make me think "ah, a nice cold beer." It makes me think of a sterile moonshine that gets me drunk fast. To make matters worse, the whole point of "branding" the army with a beer feels like a cross between a huge conflict of interest and an even bigger joke. Seriously? The White Bull Army?? Helicopters with beer logos on them?

So let's suspend disbelief for a second. Let's suppose they do this for real.

Does a beer company win any good will by sponsoring death?

"Hey, we just bombed the SHIT out of that neighboring village! Let's grab a nice cold White Bull, the beer to have when you're killing more than one!"

The whole thing is so very very WTF. I don't get it. At all.

Since this is an imaginary case study for an imaginary campaign, I'll quote the imaginary rock legend David St. Hubbins:

"It's such a fine line line between clever and stupid."

FYEverybodyI Advertise a product from a global brand in a way that couldn’t have been done five years ago, to an audience of your choosing. Be mindful—original ideas rule.

Having said that, the target audience here is judges (c'mon we know how this works). And the film is five effing minutes long.

I'll leave the rest unsaid, as I don't want to steer the direction of the comments/debate. More opinions welcome.

Oh feck it. Can't shut up. If I disregard the five minute opening, that writes me (or the jury) on the nose about the historical and political context of South Sudan as if we never opened a god damned newspaper in our lives while wasting the time of the jury... It ends up being something that is more a piss-take of congratulatory award show case study videos, you know the "worlds first" and "top hit on google" pat on the back-usuals. We've seen funny pisstakes of case studies before: Dagens Industri Zoo Me comes to mind, and that was made even funnier because it actually advertised buying newspaper media to advertisers.

So the idea that it boils down to is.... A new beer sponsoring the Southern Sudan army. "And best of all, if fighting does flare up in the future, our brand will be see by millions on news-channels worldwide.. Beer army!

That's what you sent to the Future Lions? In the end I'm wondering why you're wasting time. Your own and the juries. (and as a side-irk, I'd never do a headline this short)

The Beer Army is already here and I can ensure you that we have nothing to with the South Sudan military.

Poto Cervesia,
Dustin Canestorp

"POTO CERVESIA" There's a beer army. That is funny.

Stuff like this is the end result when ignorance meets fake caring. Seriously? This is either an extremly sarcastic subtle protest against ignorance in advertising. Or it is one of the saddest things I have ever seen coming out of the industry. Two million people died in Sudan and some hipster presents beer logos on T-72 tanks to win an award.

From: http://davaidavai.com/2011/05/08/white-bull-army-everything-that-was-eve...

Fuck off! I'm no hipster!

I couldn't get through the first minute. Really don't care. Not sure how this is awesome. Not sure how the judges will care to watch through the whole video.

I'm with Caff... unwatchable. It's not so much that it doesn't have a concept as it doesn't have a clue, particularly the clue about (suffering, at least) genocide and beer sales not being a good brand proposition.

Does SABMiller know about this?

I'm sorry, but I'm genuinely confused here. Not by the video, but whether any of the commentaters here are actually just joking and their boneheaded remarks are some form of meta-extension of the obvious satire on display in the film, or I have stumbled into some nightmarish reality where people have genuinely descended into unknowing self-satire.

You're genuinely critiquing the brand synergy of genocide and beer? How educational value weakens the message? You're seriously evaluating the merits of a headline that says "Holy Shit" based on word count? Are you all so subconsciously venal as to actually even consider for a second such a video was done as a genuine proposition by someone?

Yes. Yes you are. So I do agree on one thing - this was a waste of time. The target audience are beyond satire. We're through the looking glass here folks.

Was this, or was it not, sent to the Future Lions awards?

Hello, I'm the person responsible for creating this video, and after reading these comments I thought I'd chime in and attempt to explain a few things.

So this video is an answer to the Future Lions brief:

'Advertise a product from a global brand in a way that couldn’t have been done five years ago, to an audience of your choosing.'

I'd say my piece is on brief, albeit in a roundabout way. Now I could have gone down the more obvious route, of fabricating some GPS / Twitter / augemented reality / geo-location / smart phone app to sell coffee / shoes / clothes / cat food / whatever.

Or I could I have used this opportunity to create something which will make me stand out from the crowd. Which as a student who is soon to graduate, I'd say is quite important. I presume you're mostly advertisers or in marketing. So we can all agree advertising's number one job is to get attention. Which my video has done. After just 2 days it's had hundreds more views than any other Future Lions 2011 entry that is currently on YouTube.

Some of my favourite reactions to it so far:

'Gave me Inner Mouth Vomit.'

'I really hope your company fails.'

'Does a beer company win any good will by sponsoring death?'

The ad industry is notorious for taking itself rather too seriously, being hypocritical, cynical (erm...Unilever?), yet at the same time being chock-full of sanctimonious bellends. Which is ironic when for the most part, their careers are spent propagating bullshit. I think Dave Trott said it best, talking about the 'Chip Shop awards' -

"I think the purpose of The Chip Shop Awards is to take the piss. To take the piss out of how seriously advertising takes itself. To take the piss out of advertising’s obsession with awards. To take the piss out of a little yellow wooden pencil elevated to the level of The Nobel Prize..... And, nowadays more than ever, we badly need someone to take the piss."

Dabitch - you mentioned the piece takes too long to explain the situation - 'as if we never opened a god damned newspaper in our lives.' Then go on to say ' wasting the time of the jury.' Most people aren't aware of what has being going on in Sudan. My video has brought the situation to many people's attention for the first time. So criticising my inclusion of the situation in the Sudan because it wastes the time of a jury for an advertising awards ceremony, while being self-righteous about the whole thing is perhaps slightly hypocritical.

If industry types get all sanctimonious about a satirical film about how sanctimonious industry types are - well, this demonstrates that my video has done exactly what I wanted it to do. It's a satire on the advertising industry, on self-congratulatory circle-jerk advertising awards ceremonies, and on holier-than-thou marketeers who delude themselves into thinking that their careers are dedicated to something that makes a difference to people's lives - when they aren't. It's bullshit. People who are just so incredibly inflated that if they see a video that features poor African people made by a white person that features humour, that they have this knee-jerk reaction and begin to exercise their divine right to be offended. On behalf of the people of South Sudan - like they somehow represent them.

In places I've shown the vid that aren't frequented by ridiculous advertising industry types, the film has had very positive feedback. May I direct you to;

http://www.b3ta.com/links/624132

and here -

http://nanojv.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/white-bull-lager-army-sud-soudan-...

(The latter is in French. But well worth a translate).

Someone mentioned 'It's a boring, poorly voiced classroom film.' Well yes, I suppose it is a classroom film (but I'd disagree about the boring part). I am a student after all, with limited production means at my disposal. The entire thing was cobbled together in my mates living room. I suppose it wasn't made wholly for the purposes of the Future Lions. I made it to get myself out there - like i said before if I'd have made the usual geo-location smart-phone app to promote some-boring-bloody-brand type video, it's likely that after the awards finished it would sink without a trace. I don't expect that this film will. Yes, it's unlikely to win anything, and after it fails to win anything I'm sure I'll feel terrible about wasting the judge's precious time, but in an era of advertising mediocrity and the industry in a state of quandry, with things shifting more to branded content / entertainment - I think this film is relevant and at least sets me apart from the pack. The tagline for Future Lions is 'Start out famous.' Without winning an award, I have a chance of achieving that with this film. Or perhaps notoriety, within industry circles.

The best thing for me is that people think it's real. People from the advertising industry think it's real. I'd chalk that up as a win.

I'll leave you with the reaction from my Dad to the video. He's 72 and lives in Leeds. He doesn't work in the advertising industry. Somewhat biased perhaps, but I think you could all learn something from him.

Dear Tom
I have read all the po faced comments about x millions dead in the Sudan. They must be from people who have had a cranial operation to remove their sense of humour.
Have they never heard of a film called 'Life of Brian'
You certainly are making waves....good
Luv
DAD

Hahaha "my dad liked it". Seriously? Dude, you're hilarious.

Damn straight... He's increased my pocket money

So this is not an award entry, it's just a pisstake of advertising? It's still too long.

Fuck me, have we now reached the point of tl;dw? (too long, didn't watch)

Who gives a flying shit about the judge's time? The purpose of the award is exposure. Like coming second in the X Factor, I'd rather lose and keep my integrity and attract the attention of some people who recognise talent than win with a cliched pile of zeitgeist surfing, pre-masticated, plagiarised shite and spend my career with my tongue up the arsehole of a Simon Cowell analogue.

For a supposedly creative industry, there's way too much pandering to orthodoxy going on here.

Again, for those who can't understand it - the film is a satire, not an advert, and it's advertising the director, not the product. Yes it was entered into a competition it was never going to win (liberal use of copyrighted music and footage anyone?), but that's why it got the attention in the first place. For an industry obsessed with virals, it seems strange nobody's ever heard of a Trojan...

Also as the director stated, among non ad-types, (i.e THE GENERAL PUBLIC WHO BUY SHIT) it's a success. Isn't that what's important in the end? Or does that come second to wanky navel gazing industry self-congratulatory awards these days? Come on! That's not going to pay for the mountains of coke is it?

Also as the director stated, among non ad-types, (i.e THE GENERAL PUBLIC WHO BUY SHIT) it's a success.

Deluding yourself. What are they (the b3ta kids) buying here? Is it satire that really hopes to inform the 'general public' who according to you lot don't know anything about South Sudan about their plight? Or is it a piss-take of holier-than-thou marketeers?

Again, for those who can't understand it - the film is a satire, not an advert, and it's advertising the director, not the product.

What message is it sending us about "The director"? (are you aiming to be a director Rex_Cymru or a creative btw?)

Just to be clear:

So criticising my inclusion of the situation in the Sudan because it wastes the time of a jury for an advertising awards ceremony, while being self-righteous about the whole thing is perhaps slightly hypocritical.

I think there's an American English vs British English thing going on here, or you're just being willfully obtuse, when I tell you that the video is too long, I'm certainly not saying "don't tell us about South Sudan", I'm saying the video is too long. Look up Cliff notes. You could have had the backstory in there without wasting time. Part of your job if you intend to be a future creative is to simplify what you're going to say so that it fits in the limits of the media used to tell the story with. Learn this skill, you'll use it daily.

Blimey. It seems I've put a few noses out of joint. You think it's shit? That's fine. You think I'm a liar? That's not so fine. I posted this video under 'Badland - Spoof' as well as 'viral / YouTube.' Nice and telegraphed, so everyone can understand (But somehow that category header is no longer visible. Hmm... ).

What is clearly visible is that it's a Future Lions entry. Right there in the video title (What possible benefit would there be in saying it was if it wasn't?) With regards to those ads you mentioned (WWF - DDB, Lego Twin Towers) I can see why those might offend. They were real. As this is a work of fiction that lampoons the industry which spawned them - it's difficult for me to understand why people are getting their panties in a bunch. Maybe I'm missing a chromosome - the one that's responsible for self-righteous indignation.

The other comments about it being too long / bad strategy etc. Well it's supposed to be pompous and overblown. If it doesn't meet standard campaign-idea video-time-lengths, well I'm not too bothered about that. The strategy? I didn't give it a moment's thought. I don't expect people watching it on YouTube to be sitting there thinking - 'Interesting idea - but somehow the strategy doesn't feel quite right...' That reminds me of this http://tpdsaa.tumblr.com/

I didn't know many b3tans work in advertising. There's no need to be rude about that! (I'm more of a lurker, than active poster..) Also, I can assure you that I certainly haven't spent the day inventing multiple personalities in order to support my own work! You must be referring to Stevolutionary, my solitary ally in all this. Well, he's very real. I know the guy. We were at Uni together. He followed a link here from FB.

I didn't adhere to the usual rules of addressing a brief for this project. The awards presented an opportunity to do something different - away from the confines of an agency and an ECD. Complete freedom. It's certainly not going to be to everyone's taste and that's fine. However I've very much enjoyed everyone's feedback. It's kind of strengthened my resolve about the whole thing. I'm now even more proud of it!

Cheers

Rex

"So we can all agree advertising's number one job is to get attention. Which my video has done.". Yeah, the following 6 videos did that too...

http://all-that-is-interesting.com/post/4818469379/the-6-most-tasteless-...

Bullshit army.

"Advertise a product from a global brand in a way that couldn’t have been done five years ago, to an audience of your choosing. Be mindful—original ideas rule."

This is a way that could have been done 5 years ago, although not in Sudan. I guess where I lose this (beyond using an army to sell beer and a video that could have been shorter) is how this pertains to that direction. Armies have been around for centuries. So not sure how this ties to the direction of the ask. Good creative follows strategy.

Ok. Now that your intentions are declared straight up, I can respond.

Or I could I have used this opportunity to create something which will make me stand out from the crowd

Attention for attentions sake is nothing but a cheap trick. Or you're taking the Future Lions line "Start Out Famous" to heart and really want to be remembered for a shit piece of satire entered into a real competition with an apparent straight face.

The best thing for me is that people think it's real. People from the advertising industry think it's real. I'd chalk that up as a win.

I'd chalk that up to you being evasive, and/or lying about your intentions here. Lets check our Bettween convo - my reply, and asking you what it is again, then my opinion that ... you cranked up the serious to CNN-war-report level, and then presto joke-time. Ouch. Joke has a long way to fall.. I'm telling you I don't think it's funny even as satire. Your cryptic response is Gallows humour is from victim's POV. Who do you think the victim is here? which doesn't address any of my questions ( Is it a future lions entry?) but left me thinking that you indeed meant it all as satire. Even if you seem serious when you say that : "Avg person is unaware of Sudan secession ". So I asked you to post it on adland (adding that I wouldn't - here's the thing, I never intentionally LIE to readers and you carefully avoided to clear up whether you meant this as a serious entry or not each time I asked, opting to laugh instead. Har har!) You posted it here without any other details than it's a case study, and we can read "Future Lions" in the youtube title.

The French link you show says:

A little fiction to enjoy music on the video above, dislodged by NanoJV today. A very cool clip that should climb the stairs in June in Cannes.

... in other words he thinks you'll be winning a Future Lion with this. I don't. Like the wonderbra spiral kids (see comments), you mention with pride that the video has "hundreds more views", than any other future lions entry. Like the kids who made the WWF DDB ad (fired), the guys who made the "Rebuild it" Twin Towers lego ad (fired too), you seem to think that the shock and awe in itself is the goal. It won't hit HuffPo like Max Isaacson's "Porn sprite ad" which ad Coke lawyers phoning me as the fake ad (seen here) messed with their real trademarks. Unlike the WV suicide bomber it's just not very good, neither as a satirical 'Onion' piece mocking advertising, nor as an actual idea entered into the awards for real. (It's five minutes! If you're going to spoof something, do it in the language of what you're spoofing, a case study is never five minutes for a reason - judges don't have the time. We simply throw out long case studies without marks.)

Friendly advice, taking on several different identities in comments is generally a really bad idea.

It's a satire on the advertising industry, on self-congratulatory circle-jerk advertising awards ceremonies, and on holier-than-thou marketeers who delude themselves into thinking that their careers are dedicated to something that makes a difference to people's lives - when they aren't.

It's just not a very good one. The Pink Ponies case study mocked the serious case studies before you. That it flies over at b3ta (which by the way, is TOTALLY frequented by ridiculous advertising industry types what fucking rock are you hiding under?) where dark humor prevails and is expected isn't that strange.

So let me get this straight.

You spent days on a 5-minute, practically unwatchable video to enter into an awards show you had no intention of winning.

You're about to graduate and enter the job market and in order to gain visibility, you have decided to crap all over the industry in which you hope to make your living.

Seasoned ad people on this site have given you their professional opinions and you choose to side with your father?

Okay, send me your resume when you get out of school. I'll make a video of burning it over the waste basket. Maybe it will go viral and that will increase your career chances.

G.

G.

I'm glad your career advice revolves around kissing ass, not rocking the boat and slavishly sticking to orthodoxy. I personally won't be sending you my resume. I only work for people I can learn from.

Don't call us, etc.

S.

I doubt you can learn from anyone. Good luck.

Doesn't seem like you're able to learn much, considering the inability to deal with feedback and comments without starting a flame war. Ah the hubris of youth.

Hi Grant, that's very kind. But I'm not sure a video of an elderly man burning a piece of paper would get many hits. Allow me to suggest the following.

- Include a cultural reference / homage. Don't just use a waste paper basket, put it in a huge fucking wicker man on a cliff side, replete with animal sacrifice, inside of the wicker man. A couple of chickens, and maybe a lamb ought to do it.

- A small fire doesn't have much 'wow' factor. Use high explosives. The more the merrier! A countdown timer in the bottom left corner ought to build tension and add drama to the piece.

-Add some humour. I see your from Nantucket. You could recite a hilarious limerick. 'There once was a man from Nantucket / who blew up a résumé in a bucket... (you can finish it off)
Do it to the tune of South Sudan's brand spanking new national anthem
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4ZY2qd-6K0

-Make it topical. Dress up as Bin Laden. Beard, AK, woodland camo M-65 field jacket - the full monty.

- Give it mass appeal by including kittens. You could have them in your pockets. Everybody loves teh kittehs.

-Give it a contemporary, intriguing title. 'Osma Bin Laden blows up Barack Obama's birth certificate,' and tag accordingly.

Yes, I think that ought to do it. Let me know if you need any help.

Cheers

Rex

"White Bull Army. I've managed to represent everything that was ever wrong with Ad Awards in just one Video."

Um, no, douchehammer. You just represented everything that's wrong with your own myopic thinking. You didn't fool anyone. You didn't create "advertising award satire." You created a dumb fucking five-minute video that confused a whole bunch of people, and now you're trying to tell everyone else how stupid THEY are for not getting your lame joke.

Please take Daddy's extra pocket money and head back to class. But stay the hell awake this time.

Wowzer.

This has fanned the flames of debate, it's almost as though that was the point.

I'm struggling as an outsider to understand why you're all so CAPITAL LETTERS outraged.

The advertising industry is a very poor platform from which to climb upon your high horses, you sell to kids. KIDS. You're in the business of promoting anything that pays, I'm sure many of you think or claim to have very strong moral standards about the depths you would not plumb, I'm sure you all laugh along with Bill Hicks when he told you to kill yourselves.

But the reality is you're unwilling to laugh to at the perverse nature of the world you inhabit, you're unable to turn the brightness up to 11 and chuckle along at something which is both surreal, ridiculous but also dangerously possible.

I think by answering the brief ..."in a way that was not possible 5 years ago..." in this way is far more interesting than any of the "iphone/smartphone/social media/check in" bollocks that no doubt the award will attract.

Is it possible that a brand would go this far, if you can show em ROI they'd do it, they'd be stupid not to, their in the money making business. Would you, as an advertiser, be willing to suggest it? Why not? How desperate would you be to suggest it? Why is it ok to sponsor a football team but not an army? What is branding? If they endorse the product surely it's a win-win?

These are very valid questions, important questions. To write it off as poorly executed is certainly one way to avoid the philosophical root, but you're doing yourself a disservice but not imagining the upper limits of your comfort levels when it comes to branding, since we must all agree there's too many adverts in the world already?

It's a bad idea, poorly executed. Thomas Evans made a video 'satire' (and I use that term loosely) to enter into the Future Cannes Lions, and has now made it clear that he never intended to win (nor thought he could), so his strategy was to make a video that would be talked about instead, and thereby advertise himself as a creative go-getting guy who soon will be seen dragging his portfolio at an agency near you. Not a bad strategy, really, but since the target has now shifted from "award judges" to "potential employers" (ie: creative directors in advertising) it gets a bit odd again as the entry is quite the cynical story, a caricature of the cynical adpeople, and justified by "I'm making fun of you cynical lot". How confused.

He then tops it off by telling everyone around that we don't get it, when we don't like the idea (seen both from the angle of a future awards entry, and the angle of a satire on advertising). The future of advertising is sure to bring technological advances to the table that we haven't thought of yet, but the old ad-truism that we can't personally go and explain our ad to all the viewers of it will still hold true.

In the end, the advertisment, which is one for Thomas Evans, the soon to be creative at an agency near you, has informed us that Thomas Evans doesn't take criticism very well. Just look at this comment thread, and the one over at DavaiDavai for examples. It's good to know, I guess. Truth in advertising, at last.

ps, this is the sort of thing the spoof title in Badland is reserved for. I figured you simply didn't know that.

@inthecompanyof, the "in a way that wasn't possible 5 years ago" here is only that The South Sudan didn't exist as a country five years ago. Sponsoring an Army was entirely possible. In fact (and here comes the bold!) the Cambodian government rolled out a plan in 2010 to use private businesses to sponsor the country's military units.. There was a bit of hubub about this last year in the UK news, as a British institute known as Global Witness kicked up some shit about that and called Cambodia's military "a vast organized crime network".

What a trainwreck this thread is. It's clear that Thomas Evans doesn't understand where (or who) the criticism is coming from. Dabitch is the adgal who on this Beancast outtake about super bowl ads explained that the Dodge last stand buyers weren't "dysfunctional male impotent rebel wannabes", but anyone who hates their capitalist life, and then rightly called the narrator "whipped, weak, and pathetic, and his only way to get any balls is to buy this stupid looking car". She's been calling out destructive advertising ideas since before ad creep was a word.

Sure, there are super cynical people in advertising who would sell their mother and her little dog too, but this 'satire' isn't good enough to be that even. And to enter a competition with a satirical piece is cynical, so you've just joined their ranks. How meta indeed.

And then the real Beer Army joined in. That made me laugh.

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