TAKEALOT did not initially plan to use Cleese in their radio ad but saw the opportunity when he was on his South African tour. Soon thereafter TAKEALOT put the wheels in motion and forged on to make this concept a reality. Jonathan Bain, M&C Saatchi Abel senior creative, successfully initiated contact with Cleese on behalf of TAKEALOT. Donna Stephens, head of marketing and customer service at TAKEALOT wanted to bring a whole new life to radio ads in South Arica by utilising talent such as Cleese. This is particularly special as it was the only collaboration Cleese was involved in while in South Africa for his Alimony Tour.

“I love John because he and the Monty crew reinvented what was considered acceptable for comedy audiences. He seldom takes things seriously, even his recent divorce which he named his Alimony Tour after which we have now graciously contributed to,” says Stephens.

After three weeks of no response Bain received confirmation and boarded the next flight to Johannesburg. Script in hand, Bain and radio producer, Justin Fraser made their way to Palazzo Hotel to record the ad in Cleese’s hotel room before he jetted back to London.

“I remember walking into the Palazzo Hotel to meet and record the ad with Cleese, passing the breakfast buffet my eye caught what seemed to be the biggest pile of baked beans on a plate I’ve ever seen, needless to say it was Cleese himself in all his English glory getting ready for the day ahead,” says Bain.

South Africans may remember Cleese from his latest film role as the ‘The Guv’ in the popular South African film Spud. The Alimony Tour hosted a range of well-honed anecdotes, psychoanalytical tit-bits, details of recent surgical procedures, and unprovoked attacks on former colleagues, especially Michael Palin. Cleese was famously quoted saying: “Comedy always works best when it is mean-spirited.”

M&C Saatchi Abel is making their mark in the advertising and marketing world with their innovative and creative concepts. They have recently won the first gold Loerie Award for a PR communications campaign at the 2011 Loerie Awards held in Cape Town mid September for its Mr. Delivery ‘Fire the Chef’ campaign.

Cleese performed his Alimony Tour at Cape Town International Convention Centre and Teatro at Monte Casino Johannesburg late 2011.

Image caption:
Justin Fraser, radio producer; John Cleese; Jonathan Bain, M&C Saatchi Abel senior creative