A Win For South Africa At The Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is one of the biggest events on the American sports calendar… almost as big as the half time music extravaganza, where artists such as Whitney Houston, Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé have all made their mark on American pop culture. And right behind that is the airing of the country’s best TV commercials, where heavyweight brands pay huge money to slug it out in a no-holds-barred bout for the eyeballs and affection of the nation ‘s consumers.

This past weekend, however, also saw a major win for a young South African copywriter, Melusi Mhlungu.

According to Business Insider, “Advertising slots for the Super Bowl are big money. One TV network charges close to $5 million for just 30 seconds. For that insane amount of money, companies go on a hunt for the brightest and most creative minds to put together ads.”

One of those minds was recruited by the Miami-based agency, David, where a dream brief landed on his desk – conceptualising and writing the Kraft-Heinz Super Bowl commercial for their Devour frozen food range.

The ad plays on the idea of  ‘food porn’ and is narrated by a woman frustrated with her partner’s obsession with Devour’s frozen food instant meals. Mhlungu told Business Insider SA that “it was one of those solutions that was so simple and obvious that we could not ignore it. We kept circling back and coming to it, thinking ‘there’s no way the client would approve it’. But we were wrong, we are so fortunate to have such a great client and brand.”

The hilarious commercial went viral on YouTube, receiving over 8,6 million views BEFORE airing at the Super Bowl on 3 February 2019 alongside brands like Olay, Burger King, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Bumble.

This is a big one for the South African ad industry, and is especially noteworthy for young black South African creatives, who often have to overcome cultural, educational and financial disadvantages just to get into the industry. For Mhlungu, the challenge developing great concepts seems to have come quite naturally. While still in primary school, he came up with ideas for TV spots and pitched them to his aunt, who worked at Leo Burnett. With her support, Mhlungu went on to study at Vega, followed by work experience at FCB, where he won the Adams & Adams Young Creatives Award at the Loeries in 2015.

It’s understandable that he has been lured abroad by the big bucks and bright lights of the US ad industry, still the most affluent on the planet, but let’s hope he brings his talent back home some time soon!

Gemma Shepherd About the author
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