Thursday, April 05, 2007

Oh dear...

here we go again. The 2010 FIFA World Cup has the whole nation on the edge of its seat. Everyone is hoping (and probably praying) that South Africa can pull this off. But a lot of people (myself included) are fearful that a government rife with corruption, a massive skills shortage and degenerating infrastructure will be its downfall.
Every time I read or see work progressing - such as the Gautrain - my hopes soar. Then I read about the problems in Cape Town with its stadium. Not only do they have finance problems, but apparently there's an impending lawsuit now. I despair. And I can't believe I forgot to mention the crime. Having been in this amazing country for almost five years, I can state that crime has increased dramtically, especially over the last 18 months. Something must be done. The only place I feel safe is at work. I fear for my life when I'm driving around, I fear when I'm at home. I fear even more for the safety of those travelling to SA for the World Cup (provided that SA is able to go the distance and actually host it).
I am hopefully, and keeping everything possible crossed (not just my fingers) but when I keep reading crime stats, the news which offers untold horrors of daily life in SA as well as the problems that keep surrounding the World Cup, that hope dims a little more. I'd love some positive great news to make that hope shine a little brighter, or at least counteract the negative.
I know SA can do it, I'm just not exactly sure how.

Monday, February 26, 2007


It is not often that something exciting happens outside the window of our office (watching a blonde reverse her shiny Peugeot out into the awning pole was a highlight) .
But today, I am witness to a very different kind of human caricature- the show-off (you know the kind- he was the first kid in school to get a SpaceCase).
A gentleman who works in a neighbouring building has recently handed over a (not so) small fortune of money for a new Ferarri (red, of course). And now, he is offering colleagues quick rides around the block, effectively making a circus out of himself and his new toy. Small groups of people traipse out into the road every few minutes, and cheer each time the car makes its noisy return; they stand in the mid-afternoon heat and wait to take their turn. A woman is taking photos with her digital camera (I'm guessing she was the teacher's pet in highschool).

The gloating driver fits the stereotype of the middle-aged, boep-endowed man, who has fallen under the spell of the prancing stallion that marks his car like a gang tattoo on a thug's hand. And yes, he is part of a new gang now (the kind with lots of disposable income, and a penchant for over-priced speed machines and golf club memberships), thanks to his prestigious purchase. I only hope that the novelty wears off quickly, because at the rate with which he is giving Ferarri tours of Mellis road, he is burning enough fuels to advance global warming ten-fold...


Friday, February 23, 2007

What the hell

I cannot believe it. Cycling away at gym (Planet Fitness) a few mornings ago, I'd forgotten my iPod. Forced to listen to the dire one-tape music session that follows you round the gym like a bad smell, I was surprised to hear an ad. But oh no, this wasn't just any ad. This was an ad for McDonald's. A healthy McDonald's. Filled with healthy salad and fresh orange juice. Excuse me!
McDonald's healthy? Don't make me laugh.
After I stopped choking on my water I became angry. How dare the gym allow a McDonald's ad to played across the gym airwaves when everyone in the facility is there to lose weight, get healthy, feel good, look good. It's completely insulting and extremely offensive. How can a gym be so stupid? All I can say, is I hope McDonald's payed Planet Fitness millions of Rand in order to get that played. If not, well...

Monday, February 12, 2007

When will it stop?

I cannot wait for the new Protection of Personal Information Bill, and the Consumer Protection Bill to take effect later this year. In fact, I will be uncorking a bottle of champers, and dancing on my desk like a deranged can-can girl. Because I have had it up to here with call centre phone calls (to my personal cellphone, might I add)!

I have just received a call from Standard Bank's call centre. The agent asked me if I would spare a few minutes of my time so he could explain the reason for his call. I conceded (not because I am curious about the product he is peddling for his R13-an-hour salary, but because I just know that the script his bosses have forced him to rehearse will be worth a few giggles). He tells me that the phone call will be recorded (please, oh please let the marketing manager listen in on my call...).

And then he launches into the most theatrical monologue I have heard since I watched Shakespeare performed in London. "Standard Bank and Standard whatever have developed the most amazing product for only its most valued clients, special important people like yourself.. blah blah... if one of your family members, that is, a loved one [what else is my family? Unloved?], is injured, through a road accident, through a misshap in the dangerous holiday season [erm, the holiday season has been over for at least a month now!], or through an act of crime...blah blah..".

At this point, wiping away tears of laughter, I interrupt this call centre agent. I tell him what he is trying to sell me- an insurance product (why the hell is he wasting my time with his 20-minute long script! He could have started the phone conversation off with: "I am selling a new insurance product. Would you like to hear more about it?" I would have told him I am not at all interested, and saved us both the pain).

I also have to explain to him why I'm not interested in his call (if I want insurance, I'll look for information online and I will ask the right person the right questions via email- I have a brain!). I do NOT appreciate the cold calls, the downright fluffy and pathetic scripts, the wasting of my time with this bollocks, the calls to my cell-phone (from a private number- oh, how sneaky..).

If I am such a special and important client, then why doesn't Standard Bank give me value where I need it and would actually appreciate it (like, lower Internet banking fees? or shopping vouchers?), instead of trying to sell me another stupid product which will ultimately benefit them more than it will ever benefit me!

It is about time that marketers realised the damage that these calls do to their brands! I am so angry with Standard Bank and their useless call centre now, that I am likely to boycott them and their products in future (in fact, I'm going to buy a Standard Wank t-shirt which I will wear next time I visit my branch). The fact that I will tell my friends, colleagues and family [erm, "loved ones"] about this disgusting call means that I am creating negative word of mouth messages about Standard Bank (and we all know how powerful word of mouth dissemination is!). So much damage caused by one simple phone call...was it really worth it, Standard Bank?


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pink fluff

Hi all,
As the resident journalist, I am encouraged to contribute regularly to the Marketing Mix blog. Not that I ever need much encouragement to climb upon a soap box and "express myself"...

Following the afternoon naps and lazy beach days of my December vacation, 2007 seems to have started with the proverbial "bang". I feel as though January has slipped right through my fingers in a matter of seconds. And now, deadlines and Valentines Day looms.

Ah yes. Roses and hearts everywhere, couples gazing at each other over candle lit dinners and pathetically cute soft toys. The inevitable marketing tsunami fills me with dread (more hearts and cutesy punchlines to endure). I wonder if we will see any truly exciting campaigns this year, amongst all the pink and red fluff.

I quite enjoy the NetFlorist radio ad, which features (supposedly) Toni Yengeni calling in to a radio talk show, and getting information about flowers that can be delivered to his mum without him having to leave jail for the weekend... a sassy dialogue and simple offer have been seamlessly tied into a (truly) funny scenario. I only hope that we will not be subjected to the ad every 30 minutes...

What I would like to see more of is Valentines advertising that considers the singleton (who, no doubt, will be dining alone or in the company of her cats on Valentines evening). Not that she is your target consumer (she is not rushing out to buy silk boxers for her man..). But she still has a sense of humour and a credit card...

Friday, February 02, 2007

I'm sorry...

Hi there
I'm sorry for being away so long - I got a shock when I saw my last post was almost a year ago! What a year 2006 was. I was so hectic with work tha none of my friends are speaking to me and I'm having to mend gaping holes in the fence to say sorry.
Well, Marketing Mix is going bi-monthly, leaving me time to concentrate more on the magazine itself, as well as the other Marketing Mix branded products such as Migrate (for the Loerie Awards, SA's fabulous advertising awards), Newspaper 10 which will be distributed at the 60th World Newspaper Congress) and direct (for the direct marketing industry). I can't wait. There are more plans in the pipeline but my lips are sealed for now. As soon as I'm able, you'll be the first to know all the plans.
On another topic, I'm always amazed when the power of words manage to create chaos, upset, joy, love and more importantly, action.
I got a call this morning from a well-known petroleum company in South Africa regarding an editorial I wrote for the Nov/Dec issue. The editorial was based on how utterly disgraceful SA customer service is. Basically, a petrol attendant chugged disel into my very obviously petrol car, made me late for a meeting, emptied my tank completely, made me pay for the original amount I'd purchased and left me with less petrol in my tank than when I went in. I then called customer service, they gave me a reference number and told me someone would call me. Today is the first day since July 10, I've heard from them. Amazing what a few words on a page can do. Love it.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

online mutterings

It's a strange morning in Joburg - mild with heavy cloud cover. Reminds me of an Autumn day in England. Mind you, it is rapidly heading into winter now, just hoping for a few more hot and sunny days before I freeze.
I've been reading the headlines over the last few days and it makes for interesting reading. Google is paying back US$90 million in the click fraud case, niche bite-sized videos are attracting attention, Knight Ridder is about to bought, the huge media companies are on the hunt for new websites, everyone is talking about blogs etc etc.
And yet, here in SA, no one really seems to be talking about the Internet, blogs, online videos. Here, we're still yapping about how the magazine and newspaper industry is growing (despite the closure of Nova, a Media24 newspaper 'experiment'); how well radio advertising is doing etc. It makes me wonder when we are going ot catch up. Granted, South Africa is much like Brazil in the huge disparity between rich and poor, therefore there aren't that many (relatively speaking) using the Internet at the moment. And of course, Telkom is a huge hindrance with the cost of broadband and not so nifty service. But, unless marketers and advertisers start using the Internet as a medium, it's never going to grow. I just wish some more people would take a few risks. It's what other people do.