MTN in the snow – yay or nay?

Most of South Africa was covered in snow on the 7th of August, and it was a spectacle. Everyone everywhere was buzzing about snow in South Africa, with pictures being shared everywhere. Honestly, it was beautiful. I mean, it was really cold, but the snow spectacle was beautiful. One hoped the next day, Nando’s would have a tongue in cheek ad commenting on the snow; one was disappointed. A week later however, the Ornico Advertising Monitoring guys picked up a television ad – MTN in the snow ad.

Ayoba! to MTN for being the only brand to comment on TV on the snow, given that there has not been any snow for a couple of years. The concept was a clever one. It was a collaborative effort, engaging with consumers on Twitter and cross promoting on Facebook. The idea was to get people sharing their experiences of the snow in photo and video in a competition from the 7th to 10th of August 2012. Top 5 contributors – no clear criteria on what would make them top – would walk away with a tablet each. A handful of people shared and the result was an ad, whose tagline, ‘a day worth sharing, again’ faintly rang on Twitter. There was no social media buzz around #MTNinthesnow, with MTN’s Twitter account @AyobaMTN having all but 3 tweets promoting the competition – 2 tweets on the 7th of August and 1 tweet on the 10th of August. The rest of the tweets from MTN with the hashtag were from the 14th of August 2012, when they posted the ad on YouTube whose views were a little over 700 views as of 20th August 2012. The ad garnered less than 50 mentions on Twitter countrywide in the last 6 days.

Twitter is no barometer for a good ad. It however gives an indication of the talkability around that ad and the MTN in the snow TV ad lacked in that regard. So was the ad a fail for MTN? Not completely. MTN will go down in history as the only brand that commented on the snowing of 7th August 2012. But one wonders what the ad was aiming to do. Was it a tactical ad? If it was a tactical ad, what a brand wants from a tactical ad is to increase talkability, brand awareness, profile and even brand trust. There was not much talkability, therefore minimal increased brand awareness and brand trust. The other reason for the ad would be to achieve emotional attachment with the consumers. The ad certainly would resonate with the consumers, and not mainly because of its creative but because of its timing. Except it only came out a 7 days after the snow; the news was a bit stale and people had started getting on with their lives. The key to social commentary in ads is to get the consumers while they are trying to catch their breath, before they move on. And unfortunately MTN did not achieve this.



Then there is the creative. The concept of collaboration is always a winner but the ad does not take me, as a consumer, through this concept. Collaboration always tells you a story. This ad, by omitting an explanation of the collaboration missed the opportunity to tell me a story, the story. All I see in the ad are people and snow and the story of how the ad came about is not clear. You do not know whether MTN went around taking pictures and videos of people, or people shared their content. A brand must not do a collaborative exercise and not mention the collaborators. A big part of the exercise is not only about getting people to contribute but to mention that they actually contributed – acknowledgement. I think MTN fell short there and this was the opportunity to take this tale and make it big.

After all is said and done however, I still say Ayoba! to MTN. They are the only ones who have done a TV ad commenting on snow in South Africa. At least someone did, even though the execution could have been better.