The Cadbury LunchBar ad that’s making advertising fun again

VML South Africa recently dropped a 360 ad campaign for Cadbury LunchBar that has South Africans laughing and craving the sweet, nutty taste and ingredients of this iconic chocolate bar.

And according to the campaign, we’re not the only ones with a taste for Cadbury LunchBar chocolates – extra-terrestrials are on the hunt for the chocolate snack, too. But one man is onto them – Bra Lucas Baloyi, retired teacher, conspiracy theorist and self-confessed “LunchBar Man” has figured it out: they’re among us.

“We needed a compelling, eccentric, funny and believable local character to tell the fantastical story of aliens being keen on our Cadbury LunchBar chocolates and Lucas Baloyi was the result,” says Ryan van Son, Creative Director at VML. “Wardrobe, make-up and the art department were critical, as was casting. Fezile Mpela was beyond a perfect fit for the role. Not just for the integrated work we made (TikTok being a key focus) but also for activations and radio appearances. He’s a total gentleman and all-round legend!”

Narrative in Three Parts

It’s not often that an agency gets a “wild card” pass to produce their best creative work. But that’s exactly what happened with the LunchBar Man campaign. “The idea came out of a workshop that the client put together,” explains Executive Creative Director Theo Ferreira. “I don’t think the intention was ever to do the work, just to workshop ideas around Cadbury LunchBar. But the client loved the concept and decided to make it happen.”

The campaign began on TikTok with Bra Lucas sharing some of his otherworldly theories. TikTok creators started to post their own takes under the hashtag #thelunchbarman including CCTV footage of Bra Lucas having a peek into the Cadbury LunchBar factory to look for clues with his alien scanner – the PUDDNo8.

A longer ad launched a few days later, providing a more detailed glimpse into the Cadbury LunchBar obsessed world of Bra Lucas. Jumping onto the nostalgia trend that’s so rife in pop culture and paving the way for Cadbury LunchBar’s 60th anniversary next year, it pays tribute to classic LunchBar ads of years gone by, such as Much More Munch Bar with Makatini and Oviaas.

Finally, the gamified microsite launched, giving visitors the chance to win cash prizes by answering trivia questions related to interactive clues scattered across Bra Lucas’s chaotic desk.

“As an industry we’ve lost a lot of fun and intrigue via overcomplicating things with data, processes and forcing a product’s functional attributes and human behaviours into our work – which ultimately results in forgettable work,” says Van Son, who credits the campaign ecosystem to good old-fashioned storytelling. “This campaign was born from a rebellious irreverence and ‘back to magic’ approach. And fun! We then looked at the different platforms and decided what aspects of the story we’d like to tell where. We adhered to certain platforms’ best practices and in some instances broke the rules of what each platform dictates.”

All in the Detail

What stands out in the LunchBar Man campaign is its attention to detail. From the character development of Bra Lucas to a meticulously created set and clever use of retro technology and video effects, the VML creative team, led by Ferreira, created a story that feels more like a movie than an ad and could almost be believable.

“Craft was a massive focus area for us,” says Van Son. “The script, each shot and its props, wardrobe (spot Lucas’ Lunch Bar lapel badge), title treatment, Windows Media Player interface, end frame and finally the website – which I highly recommend you take some time to peruse.”

There’s so much to take in that audiences will notice new details and nuances with each viewing. The layers were created using a combination of masterful set construction, special effects and AI. “We used AI heavily to dress the fact wall and populate his journal, with an assortment of aliens and diagrams. Even the fighter jets are all AI,” says Van Son.

The LunchBar Man campaign is a breath of fresh air for audiences and the advertising industry alike. And it certainly makes you want to go out and buy a Cadbury LunchBar… if the aliens don’t get them all first!

Watch the ad here.

Follow The LunchBar Man on TikTok.

Visit the microsite and play the interactive game here.

Campaign credits:

Fran Luckin – Chief Creative Officer
Theo Ferreira – Executive Creative Director
Ryan van Son – Creative Director
Francois Botes – Creative Director
Lourens Botes – Art Director
Hanro Manefeldt –Art Director
Monghezi Xhoma – Designer
Zolilie Seoposengwe – Copywriter
Tinashe Venge – Copywriter
Ethel Sibanda – Copywriter
Annastasia Kawondera – Account Director
Nomathamsanqa Mngomezulu – Group Account Director
Rob Cambell – Strategist
Lee-Ann Booysens – Production Manager
Lee-Anne Joseph – Traffic Manger

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