Our 9 favourite ads of 2020 – including two about chicken and one from the tax man

Business Insider SA

  • Our favourite advertisements this year dealt with chicken, insurance, pool cleaning, and booze.
  • But 2020 added its own twist to ads, and one retailer got it right with a worthy social message.
  • So did the SA Revenue Service.
  • For more stories go to

2020 was a terrible year for the advertising industry. Budgets evaporated, schedules were upended, and production crews faced arrest.

But a couple of stand-out television ads came out before the pandemic became our only reality – and a lot of great work was done as various brands tried to plug in the new world, or actively shape perceptions around it.

These are our nine favourite ads from South Africa in 2020, including two about chicken and one from the government.

My Kreepy Teacher

If you haven't seen Netflix's My Octopus Teacher, then one of SA's best ads of 2020 will make no sense. You can get a sense of it from the trailer, though....

.... and then you can start to appreciate the genius that is My Kreepy Teacher.

Chicken Licken: 'You'll never find a meal for that price in Kentucky'

Chicken Licken's trolling of Americans is, by just about any standard, slow and boring stuff – until you hit the zinger at the end. It may have nothing to add on a second or third viewing, but it is sheer joy watching the homegrown company put one over an American rival the first time you see it.

Nando's: Unsolved mysteries

Naturally Nando's has been throwing shade on the competition too, all year long.

In February it was exploring the origin of the nugget.

But its latest riff on that theme, a dramatic exploration of the nature of the patty, is the winner for us.

Yes, even in a year that saw the Mzansipoli ad.

Savanna Jean: Fighting back agains fancy booze

A scene from the Savanna Jean ad.
A scene from the Savanna Jean ad.

Remember when people still went to bars? When Savanna introduced this ad for its new flavour, that was still a thing that happened, and the nostalgia for that alone makes the ad worthwhile.

But at the time it was the mockery of fancy booze culture and, dare we say it, a Capetonian approach to cocktails, that caused us joy. (The fact that Savanna added the relatively exotic juniper flavour to its cider, then worked hard to convince us it's just an everyday drink, helped too.)

Because it advertises alcohol, the age-restricted ad is only available via YouTube. You can watch it here.

King Price's roadblock: An instant lockdown classic

King Price's simple ad mocking a South African stereotype became an instant classic as the brand's payoff – some stuff doesn't make sense – meshed perfectly with the national mood all of a sudden.

Bonus ad: A reminder that King Price had been going on about stuff not making sense well before the coronavirus and all the craziness that came with.

Gumtree wants you to let go

Gumtree's "Declutterthon" is awkwardly named, and the attempt to gamify selling stuff is weird at best. But the references to the South African zeitgeist were just spot-on in September, and remain so now. 

Pick n Pay: Friends don't let friends panic buy

A lot of brands produced worthy social messages in 2020. But way back in March, Pick n Pay set the standard with its ensemble anti-panic-buying ad – not least of all for the subtlety of the branding.

Proudly South African: It's Game Time

With the mood already turning cynical, and sometimes nasty, by mid-year, Proudly SA's attempt to harness patriotism could have gone terribly wrong. Instead it wielded John Kani like an emotional scalpel, reaching into the past to talk about the future in a powerful way.

Sars: Pay your tax

The constant drumbeat of state capture revelations is not helping tax compliance much, and the SA Revenue Service hasn't exactly had the easiest time of it in the past couple of years.

Then Sars managed to attach its work directly to the coronavirus crisis with this one minute ad, leaving little moral wiggle room.

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