Lib­er­at­ing ad drives home achieve­ments of the ANC

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

BRAND rep­u­ta­tions are of­ten said to be frag­ile things and it is true that some well-known names have never re­gained ground they lost when a cri­sis dented their images.

How­ever, the long-lived brands have their his­tory and their rep­u­ta­tional DNA to fall back on should some­thing go wrong.

Look at Toy­ota and Volk­swa­gen, for in­stance. Both have been hit with is­sues over the past few years – Toy­ota with safety and VW with the diesel emis­sions cheat­ing scan­dal. Yet, with decades of great, re­li­able cars and tens of mil­lions of sat­is­fied cus­tomers around the world, they are weath­er­ing the storms well.

A po­lit­i­cal brand like the ANC, which is 104 years old, has an en­vi­able po­lit­i­cal DNA to mar­shal when things start threat­en­ing to go pear-shaped and when com­peti­tors are scratch­ing at the door.

How­ever, it still needs shrewd mar­ket­ing and pro­duc­tion ge­nius to put to­gether some­thing which di­verts the at­ten­tion of vot­ers away from the cur­rent “creep­ing coup” (or gen­uine state cap­ture) be­ing un­der­taken by No 1 and his cronies.

It is quite for­tu­nate, then, that the ANC has an agency like Ogilvy Joburg, with Bouf­fant Films direc­tor Tha­bang Mo­leya, to help re­vive that proud im­age and her­itage.

The com­mer­cial, “Re­mem­ber where we started”, talks about what has hap­pened since 1994, when all of the peo­ple of the coun­try could vote for the first time.

Re­mem­ber how Gogo could pack away the can­dles be­cause she now had elec­tric­ity? Re­mem­ber driv­ing on a new tarred road in your town­ship? Re­mem­ber get­ting a gov­ern­ment bur­sary? Re­mem­ber women get­ting equal op­por­tu­ni­ties at last?

Then, re­mem­ber those who brought us here: the ANC’s pan­theon of true lib­er­a­tion he­roes, led by the states­man and for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela.

There is, in­ter­est­ingly, a brief glimpse of an elec­tion poster fea­tur­ing Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma but it is so fleet­ing you al­most miss him. De­lib­er­ate? I won­der…

It all adds up to slick, pro­fes­sional, rep­u­ta­tion-bur­nish­ing mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion and gets a well-de­served Orchid from me.

I do need to state, for those ready­ing the poi­son key­board e-mails, this does not mean I sup­port the ANC. It means their cam­paign ad is good. It was also in­ter­est­ing to see the num­bers of black cre­atives – copy­writ­ers and art direc­tors as well as ex­ec­u­tive cre­ative direc­tor – in­volved in this. That’s why the com­mer­cial has the gritty feel of South African re­al­ity. And that’s some­thing we should see more of. There is a fas­ci­nat­ing TV pro­gramme, Myth­Busters, which uses science – and more than a lit­tle dra­matic show-boat­ing – to prove, or dis­prove, com­mon myths. They blow things up, crash cars, cre­ate enor­mous struc­tures and do se­ri­ous amounts of harm to very life­like hu­man dum­mies.

But, en­ter­tain­ing though it is, it uses facts and ob­ser­va­tions to draw its con­clu­sions.

So it was some­what ironic to see one of the show’s pre­sen­ters, Grant Ima­hara, fea­tur­ing in an ad for Cal­tex Techron fuel, which plays fast and loose with facts and strays into the world of silly science.

The only re­deem­ing piece of the ad is the fact that, clearly, it is not South African-made. Yet, given that many South Africans only have a nod­ding ac­quain­tance with num­bers and science and are, there­fore, of­ten the vic­tims of pseudo-sci­en­tific snakeoil sales­men, it is pretty cyn­i­cal of Cal­tex to al­low this ad to run.

We see Ima­hara sur­rounded by a group of peo­ple as he prac­ti­cally demon­strates what hap­pens to a car where Cal­tex with Techron is not used.

He calls on a beefy by­stander to push the car. Of course, it does not move a mil­lime­tre. Which is al­ready strange, be­cause even with the strong­est hand­brake in the world and even with a ve­hi­cle in gear, there will be some sort of re­ac­tion to the ac­tion of try­ing to push it; even if it just rocks on its sus­pen­sion.

Ima­hara then goes on to ex­plain that is be­cause there is fric­tion in the en­gine. Adding Techron elim­i­nates fric­tion to the ex­tent that push­ing the car is a one fin­ger-only mission. The car is on some sort of fric­tion­less pads – that much is ob­vi­ous.

How­ever, what is not as ob­vi­ous is the silly science be­hind the ba­sic premise.

In re­al­ity, an en­gine which spins eas­ily – and a car which can there­fore be pushed eas­ily, is a sign of huge wear and low com­pres­sion. These are bad things in an en­gine, Grant.

High com­pres­sion – and re­sis­tance to push­ing or turn­ing – is a good thing in an en­gine.

I would be very wor­ried that a com­pany sell­ing me a clever tech­ni­cal so­lu­tion would take such lib­er­ties with tech­ni­cal re­al­ity.

So, an Onion for Cal­tex and for Ima­hara, for lend­ing his name to such non­sense.

You’re busted!

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