McCann1886 successfully applies lockdown lessons for Steers

McCann1886 is successfully applying the lessons it learnt during last year’s hard lockdown to the work it is doing for clients across the board.

Last year, the approach adopted by the agency during the COVID-19 lockdown allowed it to develop work that proved so in-sync with Steers’ mostly metropolitan male 18-to-34-year-old target market that it performed beyond expectation.

Now, some nine months later, the agency is applying the approach and lessons it learnt during the various lockdown phases to the 60-year-old fast-food burger restaurant chain’s latest campaign.

McCann1886 Chief Creative Officer, Stuart Stobbs, explained that, when 2020 didn’t quite go according to anyone’s plan, they turned to the McCann global mantra – ‘Creativity is the Only Way to Survive’ – for inspiration and to redefine the agency.

This approach had three key drivers – Agility, Making and Fun.

“Admittedly ‘Agility’ was an obvious driver to apply to how we worked, how we built insights, how we created, collaborated and thought. The agency wanted faster outputs, but without impacting on quality,” he said.

‘Making’ was all about taking ideas to finish, and upskilling staff with the knowhow to do so. Here, we reckoned, the more we could do, the better we could help clients. And ‘Fun’? Well, what would be the point of all that work without Fun,” he said. “Also, facing a pandemic is mentally draining, and having some fun while you work, well that’s the perfect antidote or dare I say, vaccine?

The agency initially put these drivers to work for Steers when it was preparing to re-open after being in a forced shut-down for three months. The need was for an immediate and significant upturn in revenue.

“Our first campaign – the ‘Mix It Up Sharing Meal’ campaign – combined old ads with new footage to create six pieces of fresh and engaging content that talked to the situation we were all in and reminded consumers of the power of sharing,” said Creative Director, Mthokozizi ‘Zi’ Sithole.

“And, knowing time was everything, we followed up swiftly with a full social roll-out … and then proceeded to launch TVCs for the ‘Shake It Up Sharing Meal’ and the ‘Cheese Boy Sharing Meal’. Agility and Making indeed worked hand-in-hand to help us keep delivering for Steers in record time.”

Sithole also praised the client for their support: “None of this would be possible without a solid relationship with a client who is just as agile as we were. And it turns out that, if you work together, creativity not only lets you survive a pandemic, but thrive in one too,” he said.

The new executions were created for the ‘Phanda Ribster Burger Meal’ by Executive Creative Director Tumi Sethebe, Creative Director Zi Sithole and Art Director Chan Ma after they were briefed to show what it really means to be ‘phanda’ in South Africa while leveraging of the amazing Steers value offer.

“‘Phanda’ means ‘hustle’ and, in a South African context today, that translates into an ambition or hunger to turn your side-hustle into a major success,” explained Sethebe. “Steers has tapped into the ethos of ‘phanda’ and ‘phandapreneurs’ in the recent past, supporting their endeavours with competitions to win a little ‘seed money’ and opportunities to build awareness for their side-hustles.

“This new campaign acknowledges that, every now and then, phandapreneurs lose their hunger for success, because they are tired or physically taxed – maybe hungry – but just don’t realise it. So, our TVCs show how the Steers Phanda Ribster Meal helps them regain their phanda by giving the ‘fuel’ to re-ignite it.

“For our digital and social content, we spoke to real phandapreneurs, some of whom have been with Steers for a while. We interviewed them about how to cope with those moments when you feel like giving up and how Steers helps fuel their phanda,” he said.

The TVCs and content was shot by Team Best and directed by Asher Stoltz, Bryan van Niekerk and Sifiso Khoza; post-production was by Mushroom Media.


Client: Steers

Campaign: Phanda Ribster Burger Meal

Steers Marketing Executive: Jeswin Leckram

Steers Marketing Manager: Tammy Ho

Steers Brand Manager: Kutloano Dingaan

Creative agency: McCann1886

Account Director: Thomas Countee

Executive creative director: Tumi Sethebe

Creative Director: Zi Sithole

Copywriter: Zi Sithole

Art director: Chan Ma

Strategist: Amy Harper

TV Producer: Caron Sandler

Production house: Team Best

Director: Asher Stoltz, Bryan van Niekerk and Sifiso Khoza

Post-production: Mushroom Media

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