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Brands of Origin

Resonant History and Heritage

For Art Directors and Copywriters there are conceptual opportunities to explore for imaginative ideas of how the heritage of a particular product or brand can be perceived, culturally interpreted and its national characteristics socially valued by consumers.

The Oxford Dictionary definition of Heritage is; ‘Objects, structures, recorded history of valued significance and qualities such as cultural traditions that have been passed down from previous generations’.

Every Brand Has A History

For many brands of origin their history forms an integral part of the brand’s persona and identity, like Scotch whisky for example.

There are oppportuiites for brands to not only reflect their heritage but also to appropriate existing and historic characters, real and fictional, and make them their own to spark familiarity and interest, from which the brand can then create something entirely new.

Stories about national and cultural pride, whimsical reflection, pathos, history, idiosyncrasies and humorous analogies abound with creative potential.

A Question of Focus

However, though it might be tempting to make the brand the big hero of a story, it rarely works. A story is far less effective when focused solely on the historical heritage of a brand wihout a human insight of its perceived societal value and relevance and the cultural emotion attached to that heritage.

In other words, if the story is exclusively focused on the brand, there’s vey little likelihood it will resonate effectively.

1. The Guinness Tribute To a Congolese Tradition

Advertising Agency: AMV BBDO, London

The Congolese ‘Sapeurs’ follow a tradition unique to Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire (formerly the Democratic Republic of Congo) and neighbouring Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, and have earned an increasingly visible status in popular culture as an important part of the Congolese story.

For Guinness the ‘Sapeurs’ embody an important life lesson of not allowing your circumstances to define who you are.

The Story of Papa Wemba

Shortly after The Democratic Republic of the Congo became independent, the country was renamed Zaire and a strict non-Western dress code was implemented.

Papa Wemba, also known as ‘The King of Rumba Rock” and one of the most popular singers and musicians at the time in Africa, wanted to challenge the status quo visually.

He became the leader of the ‘Sape’ (Society of Ambiance-ists and People of Elegance), and whose members, the ‘Sapeurs’, were known for their elegant style of dress. He popularised the ‘Sape’ look and style through his musical group ‘Viva La Musica’ with whom he performed on stages throughout the world and is quoted as saying; “White people invented the clothes, but we make an art of it”.

The Sapeur Code

The Sapeur cult however, isn’t just about elegantly dressed working-class men parading their freedom of expression, it also promotes high standards of personal cleanliness, hygiene and a strict code of behaving like a gentleman to a whole generation of youth across Zaire and the neighbouring Republic of Congo. Guinness raises a glass of their finest to their high moral values, character and integrity.

2. Sapporo Legendary Biru

Advertising Agency: Dentsu, Canada

‘Biru’ is the Japanese name for beer. Directed by Mark Zibert, the commercial is a compelling ‘epic’ of breathtaking attention to detail.

The film took over a month to shoot in Guangzhou China. Dentsu wanted to translate the intrigue of the legendary cultural heritage of diverse Japanese artistic craftsmanship into a powerful and intriguing visual narrative for Sapporo the beer.

They have certainly achieved their goal. The commercial is a delight to watch and imbues the brand with a national pride and identity of impressive stature.

3. Cartier Odyssey

Advertising Agency: Marcel, Paris

King Edward VII of England referred to Cartier as “the jeweler of kings, and the king of jewelers”. The Paris Jeweler’s long tradition of royal patronage includes the courts of Europe, Russia, Serbia, Siam, Greece, Romania, Egypt and Albania.

The focus of this spectacular three-and-a-half minute commercial of Cartier’s 165-year history, directed by Bruno Aveilan, is about a Panther. The instantly recognizable symbol of the Cartier brand takes a trip around the globe and encounters key moments and locations from the jeweler-maker’s sumptuous, long history.

The panther also visits an Indian palace filled with Cartier’s famous animal jewelry pieces, before coming home to supermodel Shalom Harlow at the Grand Palais in Paris, the birthplace of Cartier.

The film was shown at 800 UK cinema screenings, and on television in 12 countries around the globe receiving much acclaim for its spectacular visual appeal.

4. Hovis Bread, Go On Lad

Advertising Agency: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy, London

Directed by Ringan Ledwidge, the cinematic 122-second commercial, follows the journey of a young boy through 122 years of British history, from the establishment of the Hovis brand in 1886 to the eve of the millennium celebrations, and considered by many to be the best British commercial ever made.

The commercial received dozens of industry awards but the most important acclaim came from the brand’s engaged public audience when in 1999 they voted ‘Go On Lad’ to be the best television commercial of the decade.