Mo the Meerkat puts on dancing shoes again

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Mo, South Africa’s favourite Meerkat according to recent awards and research houses, is dancing again in a brand new 60 second commercial called a€˜Dance King’ from FCB Johannesburg.

Last year on the Millward Brown Impact liking lists, Mo’s second TVC appearance in a€˜Meerkat – Way You Move’ ranked No. 1 commercial for the Emerging Market and No. 3 for the Developed Market while his first TVC a€˜Meerkat’ ranked No. 4 for the Emerging Market.

More recently in the 2006 Khuza Awards (a research-based awards programme where SA youth vote for their favourite ads and marketing campaigns), teens rated his as the Winning Campaign on television, as did industry commentator, Tony Koenderman, in his AdReview 2006.

Mo is FCB Johannesburg’s response to a challenge put to it by Vodacom last year. “For Vodafone live!, Vodacom specifically tasked us to target the YAFS or young/active/fun/South Africans,” said FCB Johannesburg executive creative director, Brett Morris.

“These consumers are aged 15 to 34 and are current cell phone users within the LSM 7-10 groupings. Perennially young-at-heart, they are the ultimate pleasure seekers and entertainment and enjoyment are their top priorities. When it comes to their consumption of cellular technology, they want to be seen with the latest gadgets and trends, and their cell phone is what connects them to their lifestyle,” he said.

“To appeal to this youth market, we needed to break the mould and come up with a device or character that had never been seen before. So although our character is animated, he’s not your regular, cutesy cartoon character. The Vodafone live! Meerkat has some serious attitude! ”

Vodacom’s managing executive: advertising and brand management, Andre Beyers added: As expected, Mo has proven to be a successful brand icon within the youth market. This, plus the fact that his charm has extended into other target markets, has a€˜pushed our envelope’ again in terms of competitiveness and broad consumer appeal.

“In the newest execution, which breaks end-July, we again do not link the message to a specific product but continue using Mo to generically a€˜entertain’ all South African citizens, like only Vodacom can,” he explained.

The new commercial opens in a disco where the Dance King is reveling in the crowd’s worship. The crowd parts to let through a new challenger a€” Mo a€” and is clearly awed by his bravery. The music kicks in and Mo performs a cheeky move, which the Dance King easily one-ups. However, Mo is soon using his cartoonness to great advantage and Dance King ends up in a twisted pretzel-shaped heap on the floor, unable to move. The crowds and Mo proceeds to lead it in a synchronized dance as the ad comes to its end with the Vodacom logo. Music has played a vital role in the previous commercials and it does so in this one too. MC Hammer’s a€˜Can’t touch this’ is certain to grab every viewer’s attention.

“The plaudits Mo has earned from the industry in terms of liking scores and awards are wonderful, because it means that our work is recognised as a€˜out there’ and a€˜creatively doing a job’. But the proof that the campaign is a€˜doing the real job’ is in the figures,” said Morris.

“Here, for the six months ending August 2005, we surpassed all the targets set a€” Active Vodafone live! users, defined as the number of unique users accessing the homepage during the last month, is currently 101% ahead of target; Active Purchasers are currently 114% ahead of targets; Cumulative Revenue is currently 125% ahead of target; and we expect to achieve at least 140% of budgeted targets for the financial year ending March 2006.

“We’re sure a€˜Dance King’ will go to the top of the liking charts, but will also continue to do an awesome job for the Vodacom Vodafone live! brand and business,” Morris said.

a€˜Dance King’ breaks on national television stations on July 28th.


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