A great idea, but com­mon sense took a hol­i­day

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

THE first Or­chid this week goes to the Western Cape govern­ment and its of­fice of con­sumer pro­tec­tion. But at the same time they get an Onion. Let me ex­plain… There is an eye-catch­ing ad in our In­de­pen­dent Trav­eller sec­tion, Cape edi­tion, to­day.

It caught my eye be­cause I couldn’t be­lieve the num­bers.

Along­side a pretty pic of a fam­ily gam­bolling hap­pily on a beach, there is a bold head­line: “Seven day Cape Town fam­ily hol­i­day spe­cial.”

Un­der­neath it is: “Kids stay free” and then “only R2 000pps beach­front ho­tel” and, un­der that, “free car hire”.

It pur­ports to come from an out­fit called “Hol­i­day king – cheap fam­ily hol­i­day spe­cial­ists”.

But there didn’t seem to be any read­ily vis­i­ble con­tact num­ber.

Then my eye moved across to the right- hand side of the ad: “Save 100 per­cent off this hol­i­day!” it said.

And, be­low that, the punch­line: “Don’t go.”

As I read on I dis­cov­ered it was a warn­ing from the Western Cape govern­ment Of­fice of the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tor – “be­ware of hol­i­day scam ads”. It gave con­tact num­bers and urged peo­ple to report such fraud.

All in all, a clever piece of ad­ver­tis­ing. Bait and switch, st­ing in the tail – call it what you will – it worked so well be­cause of the un­ex­pected twist.

So a well-de­served Or­chid for the cre­ative minds be­hind the ad and to the pro­vin­cial govern­ment.

How­ever, peo­ple, what on earth was the pur­pose of run­ning the ad only in a Cape Town pub­li­ca­tion? Do Cape Town peo­ple fall prey to scam ads for hol­i­days in their own city? There can’t be that many of them.

On the other hand, many peo­ple each year are scammed by too-goodto-be-true of­fers for hol­i­days. Many of them are in Joburg, which is also where the bulk of lo­cal tourist spend orig­i­nates (please don’t ac­cuse me of be­ing provin­cially chau­vin­ist – it is what it is). And, I would guess, there are Dur­ban­ites who suc­cumb to the temp­ta­tion to go to the fairest Cape for Christ­mas and who also get taken in by the con artists.

So, who­ever does your me­dia plan­ning, Western Cape govern­ment, they get an Onion. Maybe you need an Of­fice of Com­mon Sense...

I am not nor­mally a fan of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing plat­forms – not be­cause I am an old techno­phobe (I bet I know more about net mar­ket­ing than most of you read­ing this), but be­cause it gen­er­ally doesn’t work.

The best places for mar­ket­ing are des­ti­na­tion sites – and the places you go to for re­search and to book. There are plenty of those out there, but many of them miss a trick or two by not max­imis­ing the po­ten­tial of eye- balls on con­tent.

One site that does is for New­mark Hotels. I went there this week to look up some in­for­ma­tion on their Motswari Game Lodge prop­erty. Not long af­ter I opened the land­ing page and started look­ing around, a dis­creet and quiet pop- up win­dow ma­te­ri­alised on the side of the page.

It said it was the “Concierge” and asked whether there was any­thing I needed help with.

What a clever idea. Haven’t seen any­thing like it be­fore – and I es­pe­cially like the classy way it has been done: a concierge, un­ob­tru­sively in the back­ground, sort­ing out prob­lems, pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion, is ex­actly what good qual­ity hotels pro­vide as part of their bricks-and-mor­tar ser­vice.

Or­chid to New­mark Hotels. Now you’ve seen it, ev­ery­body else, re­mem­ber about flat­tery and imi­ta­tion.

Some­times in­ter­na­tional events can undo the best- laid mar­ket­ing plans. So, for in­stance, print and TV ads with a Parisian theme would have been im­pos­si­ble to pull or mod­ify in the wake of last Fri­day’s out­rage.

How­ever, I found some in­sen­si­tive dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing ef­forts this week that could well have been stopped in their tracks with lit­tle ef­fort and at short no­tice.

The first – pointed out by some­one in the pub­lic re­la­tions busi­ness – was in an e-zine put out by Con­cept Pub­lish­ing, which ran an ad for travel in­sur­ance by Absa. The photo was of a smil­ing per­son pos­ing in front of the Eif­fel Tower. That could have been pulled tem­po­rar­ily and the fact that it wasn’t shows in­sen­si­tiv­ity or a lack of flex­i­bil­ity in mar­ket­ing. Both grounds for an Onion.

Even worse, though, was Phatic Com­mu­ni­ca­tions which, early on Monday, put out a re­lease on be­half of Edgars about the new Scan­dale Paris fash­ion un­der­wear range.

Doesn’t any­one pay any at­ten­tion to the news?

All I felt was a tinge or re­vul­sion when I saw it – not a great way to mar­ket a prod­uct.

That this re­lease could have been put on ice for a few days, but wasn’t, at­tracts the same crit­i­cism as the e-zine. And gets a sim­i­lar Onion.

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