Good advertising catch lines are works of art, in my opinion. The best of them define a brand for years, if not decades.
Sadly, a lot of them around these days are little more than recycled, and sometimes garbled, clichés like “exceeding your vision”; “going the extra mile”, “the customer is king”.

A line I really like though, is the current one for Isuzu, the maker of bakkies and double cabs, which is involved in a serious tussle with the big players, Ford and Toyota. In this country, a bakkie can be many things to many people: from a workhorse to a weekend Sandton shopping cart. And, both Ford and Toyota’s offerings – the Ranger and Hilux respectively – have in recent years been including more creature comforts in their bakkies. Yet, at the heart of the marketing for the two sector leaders is that old playground muscle-struggle.

Ford’s Ranger, with its macho looks and brawn, dares you to challenge it when it says it is “Built Tough!” The Hilux, as we saw recently in its new ad, has legions of fans across South Africa and is part of the lives of many families – hence its claim (through the mouths of young boys in the TV ad) that it is “Tougher-er” than everyone else. Against this background of the elephants fighting, the somewhat less popular but just-as-rugged Isuzu has, therefore, to avoid becoming, as the African proverb says, the grass which gets crushed.

And Isuzu has chosen the simple line: “Made from Real”. It sums up the bakkie and the people who buy it: honest, salt of the earth and not given to posing like some Ranger and Hilux owners who adorn their vehicles with all sorts of accessories in their attempt to become Caveman Lite. The TV ad for Isuzu’s KB bakkie also reminds prospective buyers that most of them buy a bakkie to work.

Against a musical variation of the Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ “Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it’s off to work we go”, we see the gritty Isuzus helping their owners with all manner of macho tasks – from fighting fires, to blowing up bridges, to pulling tractors out of farms. At the end of the day, the okes are all tired, sweaty and dirty and, instead of grabbing a Carling Black Label beer – as they might have done in the TV ads of the 1980s – they get into their bakkies, thankful for the help. The nod to Carling may or may not be intentional, but it does not detract from the simple, back-to-basics message of the Isuzu KB. An Orchid to Isuzu.

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