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  • Writer's pictureBogosi Motshegwa


As Thinkerneur, we cannot overemphasize the importance of strategy in any effort. Creative executions or ideas are not just clever visuals and copy, they are essentially manifestations of strategic intent. What that means is, regardless of the significance of the creative job, its role and intention, is always to help achieve strategic objectives. Any advert that an agency or marketer produce is (or at least it should be) intended to achieve brand or business objectives.

Any creative work that is produced without clarity on what the business or business objective is, the effort is essentially an emphatic waste of money, time, resources and intellectual capacity. Adverts cannot be done for the sake of being.

Strategic technical Error (STE)

Strategic Techinacl Error – an unconscious strategic mishap or mistake that occurs as a result of a decision that sounds and feel accurate, and like the right thing to do, but in actual fact, an error from a brand marketing point of view (Thinkerneur definition)

Sometimes, with good intent and all the relevant strategic boxes ticked, an advert or creative execution may leave one wondering what the strategic intent or objective is behind that effort.

Take this Sensodyne OOH execution (you may also have across the same execution on social media or digital banners) below for example. Let’s unpack the anatomy of the advert and see where the Strategic Technical Error is.


· Classical pour shot of a Coke, in a glass with ice (visual cues are that of Coca-Cola, there’s literally no other brand or reference that comes to mind, especially here in South Africa – a strategic technical error).

· You have the headline and supporting copy (which anchors the Coke and Glass visual)

· The appropriate Sensodyne toothpaste box – the product or pack shot (


· Headline: Khokh’ umoya (Relax, be calm, be at ease, don’t stress, don’t panic, don’t be anxious)

· Body copy: Enjoy your favourite drink. As cold as ice.


So, what is the message here? The key message that is? With every advert, there’s a key message that the brand or advertiser is trying to relay. With the Sensodyne advert, essentially, what they are trying to say is that this particular toothpaste is useful for those with sensitive, so much so that they can even enjoy cold beverages. The operative word here being ‘beverages’. Why is this important? It goes back to the title of the article, “what job is Sensodyne really doing with this effort?”

I have no doubt that Sensodyne is by no means or effort trying to promote Coca-Cola or Fizzy drinks. Or could they be? Remember at one stage, cigarettes were endorsed by doctors? We’ve really come a long way. Or have we?

What if pharmaceuticals are endorsing fizzy drinks in a subliminal way? I mean, there’s enough information and data out there that supports the fact that fizzy drinks, let alone Coca-Cola, any fizzy drink is not good for one’s health, including our teeth.

Why then, would Sensodyne, more directly, gsk promote fizzy drinks? Well, I’m not really into politics, so I will leave that to specialists, while I focus on strategy and communication.

Back to the strategic technical error

What job is Sensodyne doing?

· Are they doing a fizzy drinks job, showing that it is okay to drink fizzy drinks, as long as you have or use Sensodyne? Thereby, doing a category job for the fizzy drinks category as they are endorsing it? OR

· Are they doing a Sensodyne job, but the job is overshadowed by the copy and visuals?

Either way, I think the intended job was to speak about sensitive teeth at a generic level, hence the word, “cold” is highlighted in bold. What could what could have been used is probably ice-cold water. But that’s also been spoken about a lot, so maybe Sensodyne was trying something different that will “resonate” with the target market.

So, what do you think Sensodyne was trying to do and is it visually effective? Did or does it work?

My guess is that the billboard/OOH reminds people to top up their trolley with a Coke, than to think Sensodyne when experiencing sensitive tooth, thereby being able to continue with normal life.

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