This Agency Is Bottling the Brutal Aftertaste of Drunk Driving

Grief, remorse and mourning that stay with you

Who wants a glass of grief for the holidays? Or a sip of remorse that lasts forever? How about toasting the New Year with eternal mourning?

TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris bottles such dark spirits in an unconventional safe-driving campaign for leading South African liquor retailer Tops at Spar. 

"Drinking and driving is such a common occurrence in South Africa that it affects pretty much everyone," agency creative director Marcelle du Plessis tells Muse. "We knew from the beginning that we wanted to play around with taste as a central theme. It felt unexpected and different. So we started with this idea of, 'What would a drinking-and-driving accident taste like?' Would there be hints of airbag and tar and bile? What would it look like if we created bottles that represented a night's worth of bad decisions?" 

Three grim spots answer those questions. They mix sorrowful songs (and in one case, starkly bleak narration) with unexpected, unsettling visuals. Soft petals burn to ash, car-less headlamps slice through the night, and imposing bottles of "Grief," "Remorse" and "Eternal Mourning" bear witness to needless tragedy.

A Drinking & Driving Aftertaste - Grief
A Drinking & Driving Aftertaste - Remorse
A Drinking & Driving Aftertaste - Eternal Mourning

"We started researching accidents, and incidents and came up with what felt like were the most common variations of a good time gone bad," says du Plessis, who also directed the spots. "We then wrote up these stories and briefed illustrators to bring them to life as labels. So in the end we literally bottled the aftertaste of drinking and driving." 

South Africa has long struggled with sky-high drunk-driving rates, tallying almost 1,000 alcohol-related deaths on its roads each month. Mindful of such heartbreaking stats, TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris set out to craft a powerful message without using overly familiar PSA imagery such as mangled limbs and twisted chassis.

"We wanted to create ads that spoke to the emotional impact of your actions as opposed to the physical outcomes," says du Plessis. "It felt right to approach the visuals as 'fragments of memories' rather than actual filmed scenes. By alluding to drinking and driving scenarios that most people can identify with, we could allow the visuals to suggest a much bigger story." 

The song selections—new takes on pop oldies "End of the World" and "You Are My Sunshine"—were designed to "evoke a sense of nostalgia," says du Plessis. "The music had to work hard to bridge the emotional gap between the viewer and the visuals. So we found songs that spoke of simpler times and better things and had our artists sing them in a way that represented the loss of those things."

Though the spots maintain a consistent tone, "we didn't want to focus too much on a formula for the delivery of the message, which is why we have songs in some and spoken words in one," he says. "The only mandate was to make sure that our labels and bottles stayed central to each execution."

Such stylized bottles will soon appear in the real world, and TBWA is working with a mixologist to create beverages that capture the tortuous tang of grief, remorse and mourning. "About 60 percent of the liquid is either beer or gin or wine, so you recognize the original flavor profile—but from there it gets mixed with other tastes to create back-of-the-throat awfulness," du Plessis says.

"We'll use these as influencer drops and at festivals, book shows and events around the country," he says. "The public will be able to get a real aftertaste."

Though we suggest you abstain if someone offers you a nip.


Client: TOPS at SPAR 
Project Name: AFTERTASTES 
Format: TV Commercials 
Client Contact: Mark Robinson / Jess Nicholson 
Executive Creative Director: Alan Edgar
Creative Director/Copywriter: Marcelle Du Plessis 
Art Directors: Jonathan Lavender / James Howse / James Lait / Darren Moore / Craig Murie / Daryn Mullet /Jason GienDesigners: Mike Haakestad / Jonathan Lavender / Craig Murie
Label Illustrators: Johann Strauss / Luke Richie / Linda Small
Art Buyer: Cyndi Halvey
Production Manager: Gina McCulloch
Producer: Heidi Rughubar
Account Director: Robyn Buchanan
Brand Strategist: Des Jones
Public Relations Director: Mary Gearing
Public Relations Specialist: Jene Godfrey
Production Company: Motion at TBWA
Executive Producer: Heidi Rughubar 
Post Production VFX: Kunaal Hiram
Editor: Kunaal Hiraman
Director: Marcelle du Plessis
Recording Studio: Motion at TBWA
Sound Engineer: Johan Prinsloo
Sound Design: Johan Prinsloo
Voice artists: Shamon Daniel / John Ellis / Jason Mayhew 

Music Tracks: 
End Of The World  (Arthur Kent & Sylvia Dee)
Vocals: Shamon Daniel
You are my sunshine (Jimmy Davis & Charles Mitchell)
Vocals: John Ellis

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