#LoeriesTribute: 6 Great Ads That Made Us Love Advertising – #6


As we are a law unto ourselves here at Starving Creatives, we create our own lists, consult amongst ourselves (or the reliable voices in our heads), and reach decisions that will impact the future of our government of 2. In a genuflection to creativity – since the Loerie Awards and National Creative week is only days away – we have decided to do a fun and critically acclaimed list we named “#LoeriesTribute: 6 Great Ads That Made Us Love Advertising”. We’ll cover a different ad or campaign from our top 6 during the next two week, until we get to the glorious NUMBER ONE. Let’s do this….

Grant Hill & Sprite made history in the 90's

Grant Hill & Sprite made history in the 90’s

What I was doing watching NBA in 1996 is as perplexing to me as anything. I was 9 years old in my rural KwaZulu-Natal home town of Eshowe, stuck in the township then called Gezinsila. Maybe it was the infectious bug of the viral Micheal Jordan era. Maybe I was a kid looking for comfort in something that I totally misunderstood. I had never played basketball, nor did I even understand the rules. However, in the early SABC1 era, I knew four things that kept me totally infatuated with the America’s favorite sports every Sunday night.

  1. Grant Hill drank Sprite (HUGE Deal)
  2. Trust My Instincts.
  3. Image was nothing
  4. Obey My Thirst… Sprite

What it was: Possibly one of the coolest and most innovative advertising campaigns of the late 20thcentuary. It turned a then young NBA star named Grant Hill into an international superstar and sporting icon to rival the Michael Jordan in his age of domination. To appeal to a short buck-toothed youngster and his entire army of friends in the abandoned backside of the new South Africa, it must have been something special. The campaign crossed all cultural barriers due to it brash confidence and the brutal honesty that lay in its strapline/slogan. For all the born-post-1994 Mandela kids, below, is an example of one of the best executions from the famous campaign.

Why it made the Starving Creative’s top 6: What do you get when you mix a future legend of the advertising industry (Lee Garfinkel), an advertising agency in its prime (Lowe & Partners), a future NBA Hall of Famer (the now retired Mr Hill) and cool freakin fizzy drink (just guess)? Generally, in those types of circumstances where the night stars have clearly aligned, the rule book is completely tossed aside as true and epic creativity takes place.

Now CCO of Havas Worldwide Ad Agency

Now CCO of Havas Worldwide Ad Agency and one of the main creative geniuses behind “Image Is Nothing. Obey Your Thirst. Sprite”

Of course, what appears as much more conventional thinking now, was absolute disruption nearly 20 years ago. The idea and insight was strikingly simple and against all the rules. “Don’t trust advertising! Drink what tastes great”. And the work of Art Director C.J Waldman and Garfinkel was complete. At the time, when the squeaky clean image of perfect Micheal Jordan and Nike’s seamless advertising was the definitive blueprint of marketing success, Sprite managed to humanize its brand and become totally relatable entity. The kids never ever reached perfection from just drinking Sprite – infact, they achieved far from it – but one always got a great laugh from the fun street style visuals of average Joe’s (i.e. mere mortals like us) aiming for the superhuman sporting powers of Hill

Sprite took a surprisingly successful eat-your-cake-and-have-it-too approach, thumbing its nose at the notion of performance enhancement while misdirecting away from the fact that a beverage laden with high-fructose corn syrup is maybe not the best thing for quenching your thirst – Steve McPherson

The Verdict: At 26 years old, I remember this campaign as if it’s embedded in my DNA for life. It’s almost as memorable as my first kiss! And all my mates and inner circle remember it too. It was both a critical and commercial success, and therefore, starving applause are in order for Sprite and their “Grant Hill Drinks Sprite” campaign. Number 6 on our top 6!

That’s our piece and tell them you heard it from Simphiwe Xulu aka @Mr_MediaX on Twitter. Tune in next week for number 5 🙂

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