Amstel's Knockout Ad Campaign Review

Amstel Lager  launched a new brand campaign with a 60-second television and cinema commercial on Sunday, July 22, on all major TV stations across the country.

The advert tells the story of boxer, Thapelo ‘Tick Tock’ Mokoena, and the community that supports him as he learns to take his time and rediscover the joy of boxing, setting him on the path to a glorious comeback.

The story is a celebration of taking your time to do something the right way. Together, the community and ‘Tick Tock’ rediscover how to enjoy their task as they take their time to get back on the path to victory.

Created for Amstel Lager by advertising agency, OwenKessel, the TV ad was directed by Greg Gray of Velocity Films, and was shot at iconic locations around Johannesburg. Adding to the atmosphere is the soundtrack “Crystalised” by platinum-selling British band “The xx”, which was re-recorded and enhanced in South Africa to bring a unique voice to the story.
“We are proud to tell the story of Thapelo ‘Tick Tock’ Mokoena as it emphasises Amstel Lager’s character. We believe that when you take your time, things do get better. Just like Amstel Lager, which is ‘slow brewed, extra matured’,” says Diederik Vos, Marketing Manager. 
“The TV ad confirms the brand’s distinction from other beers and the film’s world-class production projects the brand’s premiumness.” 

Felix Kessel, Chief Creative Officer, OwenKessel, says:
“No communication should enter the world without a great insight. In Africa they say it takes a village to raise a child or in our case, a man, and this Amstel Lager story is an iconic and engrossing telling of that insight. It is the community that inspires and teaches our young boxer that taking your time is not only more rewarding, but also more enjoyable.”

That’s the gist of what the campaign is about and hopefully some of you have seen the ad already.

I had a little chill session with my buddies the other day and brought out the issue of alcoholic brands and their position in our society. Is it good that we should be punting alcoholic brands as if their products are not proven to be contributory factors in a lot of our society’s ills.

Do I as Phil Mphela with hundreds of people who admire what I do, use my platform to punt something that could be detrimental to someone’s life if not used responsibly?

Used responsibly!! These words stuck on my mind even when the debate between my friends soured about why alcohol brands in South Africa seem to be targeting black people more than white folks.

There is no denying that there are more alcohol billboards and banners in townships than there the further north you go in Johannesburg, for instance.

Even our government seems to be concerned about our alcohol consumption and its effect on our society.

However, companies like Brandhouse contribute a great deal to our economy. If the advertisers do their job and encourage responsible consumption of their product, can we really blame them for our choices?

Cars get into accidents when not driven safely or… here are those words again… used responsibly.  Should we now ban car advertising? Hell NO!

Judging this Amstel campaign though I could not help but feel a little uneasy about the subject matter. I could not help but wonder who the advertisers are talking to with this ads.

Amstel as a brand seemed to have tabbed well into their consumer market with the Class Act collaboration. My sense about the collab and its subsequent ads was that the brand gets who their consumer is and are trying to encourage them to be more pro-active with their life instead of just consuming the product and drown their aspirations and dreams.

That campaign said to me, this is a brand that understands that its position in our communities is a tad precarious so they care enough to get involved and encourage responsible amusement with their product.

This latest campaign however, says none of those things to me and I am a beer drinker!!!

First of all someone needs to tell advertisers that there is nothing glamorous about drinking beer in black culture, no matter who you are.

These glossy ads about being a real man because you drink a particular brand of beer are utter nonsense based on a lack of understanding South African black culture.

The message behind this ad is genius. If you take your time and do it write you will eventually reap good rewards. In terms of the product, it translate that  Amstel being slow brewed and extra matured can only be a great product but unfortunately it says nothing about the consumer of the product.

Perhaps I am taking the message too literal but if you going to punt a product based on the values of my culture I think you should understand my community better.

Yes it takes a village to raise a child. A community in our culture will rally together behind someone who will make us proud but believe you me you will raise a few eyebrows if that success is sealed with a case of Amstel in front of your people let alone your elders.

It takes a really special occasion for a grown man (if at all) to pop a bottle of beer with his father no matter how old he is.

Amstel’s Golden Hour campaign was perfect because it tapped precisely into the market that consume the product. It relayed a positive message of having a good time while supporting a good course which is our music industry.

That is the type of thinking that Brandhouse and OwenKessel should be leveraging. We drink beer to have a good time. We do not drink beer because we aspire to be anything. We do that with Moet these days.

I think beer brands in this country should just stick to the tried and tested, which by the way happens to be a perfect match; Sports + Music + Beer = A perfect marriage.

Thapelo would have resonated more with me as a consumer if his celebratory beer was shared with his friends and not his “community”. We drink beer with our friends not our communities. That’s the South African black way.

I was also disappointed that Amstel did not choose to use any of the Class Act contestants for this campaign. That would have gotten them more attention than this. They made a mark with that show and scored a lot of points by pioneering a movement to nurture talent.

Now it looks like they have done what all these sponsors for talent show in countries continue to do. They support artists while these shows are running and just leave them high and dry once the hype dies down.

They missed an opportunity to show their genuine concern since we are not seeing any of the films we were promised when we tuned in to watch our favourite contestants and voted in all those weeks.

While I am a little disappointed with the correlation between Black culture and the message on the campaign, I will admit that the ad looks awesome. It is not easy to portray a story of a life in just 30 seconds but the director of the ad captures the story beautifully and evokes the right emotion from the viewer. Kudos on that.

Additional content for the campaign are available available online for consumers to explore the characters and community through short films on the Amstel Facebook page

Watch the commercial and additional content at

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