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My favourite ad campaign of all time: The Tiger beer series from the 1980s

Tiger joined the ‘big boys’ in the brewing industry back in the 1980s, partly thanks to its ad campaigns that – although they haven’t dated well – were at the time compelling, writes Wong Mei Wai of APAC Global Advisory

I guess don’t really have a favourite advert of all time because of the rapid changes in the way we consume our media also changes the way we view adverts. I feel I have changed and evolved to appreciate more than just one all-time great.

However, I do recall during my secondary school days in the late 1980s that a series of adverts that left an impact on me then. These adverts were part of the series, which included ‘Sky Rescue’ and ‘Sailing’ for Tiger Beer.

During those days when I was not yet within the alcohol drinking age, I recall that I enjoyed the retro story-telling, entertainment value and the jingles of those ads. Today, the line used by the female in the Sky Rescue advert – “Get that man a Tiger” – would indeed be a controversial one. Times have changed indeed.

Coincidentally, a lady, I came to know called Linda Locke was an integral part of the production of these ads done by Saatchi & Saatchi – and I later ended up working as the brand custodian of the Tiger brand for more than a decade so our paths crossed for a while. One of my tasks was to bring greater relevance for the Tiger brand to consumers, while continuing to build its aspirational qualities during its strong years of growth.

In those days of the ads back in the 1980s, men were definitely the beer drinking target audience. A very macho kind of male imagery was what appealed to the audience then, I suppose. The male leads in the ads were presented as having a sense of intelligence or savviness.

Women were seen as reflections of the man’s success, attractiveness and an endorsement of his masculinity. The women were always portrayed in a fairly decorative role or as ‘sex symbols’. While this may be relevant to traditional male archetypes, they are clearly not relevant to today’s millennials and generation Z.    

The campaign, which had a few interchangeable lines – including “Get that man a Tiger”, “The Taste that is winning the World Over”, “Good as gold around the World” – appears to have been created around to the ‘reward’ motive for beer drinking. Whether it be for a hard day’s work or for something a bit more heroic. Interestingly, over the years needs and motivations for drinking have shifted with consumer sophistication and exposure to wider brand accessibility.

Production also played an important role in these ads. The audience associated large high-production cinematic-type experiences with the quality of the product back in those days. Therefore, with such releases, Tiger was seen as being close or at least a similar level with the ‘big boys’.

But would the ads get made today? No I don’t feel they would. As I said, times have changed. Such ads viewed the role of men and women through a traditional lens (albeit backed by research). Such retro messaging is no longer relevant now.  

In addition, the way people consume content and media has vastly changed. Interestingly despite the above, some beer brands and fast moving consumer goods today are still adopting such traditional approaches to content.

They have to make the leap to change, otherwise they are not spending their budgets effectively and efficiently – due to the lack of relevance this approach has in the modern world today.

Wong Mei Wai is founder and chief change catalyst at brand consultancy firm APAC Global Advisory – she is based in Singapore

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