E-toll spat a PR car crash

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - MEDIA& MARKETING -

THERE is a cyn­i­cal adage that a lawyer who falls over­board into the great white-in­fested In­dian Ocean would be pretty safe: the sharks would leave him (or her) alone… out of pro­fes­sional cour­tesy.

Over the past few years, it has been in­ter­est­ing to see how law firms have started to dip their toes into the world of mar­ket­ing as they chase briefs here and there. This has pro­duced some in­ter­est­ing ad­ver­tis­ing, mainly in print and mainly in the pages of fi­nan­cial pub­li­ca­tions like Busi­ness Re­port – but it has so far not at­tracted what we might call pop­u­lar at­ten­tion.

Un­til this week, that is, when there was an un­seemly pub­lic spat be­tween two le­gal firms around the sub­ject of e-tolls. All it was, re­ally, was some com­par­a­tive mar­ket­ing.

First up was Find­lay & Niemeyer Inc, which went pub­lic with an of­fer to de­fend any e-toll road user who gets dragged to court by San­ral.

Then came Pa­trick Bracher, a di­rec­tor at the le­gal firm Norton Rose Ful­bright, who opined that the of­fer amounted to “in­cite­ment to com­mit a crime” be­cause the Con­sti­tu­tional Court had al­ready sup­pos­edly dealt with the ques­tion of the fair­ness of e-tolls in Gaut­eng.

“Some­body could be mo­ti­vated by this to break a law while be­ing un­der the im­pres­sion that it is not a valid law,” said Bracher.

Well, some­one had to try and pour cold wa­ter on the mar­ket­ing bon­fire the Find­lays of­fer be­came – web­sites and so­cial me­dia were ablaze with pos­i­tive com­ment about them.

I am not sure whether Bracher is cor­rect that the court ruled the e-tolls were fair (as he was quoted as say­ing by Fin24); I thought the court said it could not in­ter­fere in ex­ec­u­tive de­ci­sions of the gov­ern­ment. It made no ad­ju­di­ca­tion as to fair­ness, as I re­call.

Be that as it may, if some­one wishes to chal­lenge San­ral’s bully­boy tac­tics to crush dis­senters, then they should be al­lowed to. The whole sys­tem is geared to push­ing peo­ple to take out e-tags – and in ways which, prima fa­cie, Mr Bracher, do look like they’re un­con­sti­tu­tional.

I still think Find­lays de­serves an Orchid: whether you be­lieve they’re gen­uine or not, they have cap­tured the moral high ground. And as far as Norton Rose Ful­bright is con­cerned, Bracher may well be right – but he would have been bet­ter ad­vised to keep his own coun­sel, be­cause he is ap­pear­ing to de­fend e-tolls. Any­one who does that in this cur­rent cli­mate – and again whether he is right or wrong does not count – is do­ing a mar­ket­ing dis­ser­vice to his firm.

And be­ing guilty of that will get you an Onion, no por­tion sus­pended.

I have been pretty harsh on gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and paras­tatals for “van­ity ad­ver­tis­ing”, where they waste tax­pay­ers’ money telling us what a won­der­ful job they are do­ing.

The Gaut­eng pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment was caught do­ing that this week – run­ning bill­boards which were, co­in­ci­den­tally, in the colours of the ANC. That’s such ob­vi­ous abuse I’m not even go­ing to dig­nify it with an Onion, but I am go­ing to hand out an Orchid to a good, fit-for­pur­pose gov­ern­ment ad.

This week, the Na­tional Trea­sury ran a print ad on be­half of RSA Re­tail Sav­ings Bonds. It fea­tured a pic­ture of a group of happy univer­sity grad­u­ates, diplo­mas in hand, with the tagline “Have you started sav­ing for your child’s ed­u­ca­tion?”

The ad served a dual pur­pose: to en­cour­age peo­ple to buy the bonds, which are low-risk and at­tract no fees or com­mis­sion, but also to en­cour­age peo­ple in gen­eral to save.

So Orchid to the Na­tional Trea­sury for the wake-up for young par­ents.

We all know Man­dela is on life sup­port and is 95 years of age. Be­cause of this, we have been in­un­dated with phone calls and e-mails. There are no bet­ter coins to get than the Man­dela range... Coins are likened unto a paint­ing – when the artist dies, the paint­ing be­comes more valu­able...

I do be­lieve we need to in­clude one of th­ese items be­low in your In­vest­ment Port­fo­lio as we en­vis­age the ap­pre­ci­a­tion in th­ese coins when Man­dela leaves us. We an­tic­i­pate that by 2014 th­ese prices would have dou­bled. NOW IS THE TIME TO IN­VEST IN RARE MAN­DELA COINS... Please find at­tached im­age of an UN­CIR­CU­LATED (UN­USED) COIN...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.