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Joburg may call itself 'world class African city' after all

5 Dec 2013 12:01
The City of Johannesburg can continue to advertise itself as a "world class African city", following a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority this week.

Can you imagine living in such a city? (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
On Monday the authority overturned an earlier decision in which it ordered the city to withdraw a radio advertisement where it claimed to be a financially stable world class city.

The advertisement, which boasted of the city's "many significant achievements", was heavily criticised by Johannesburg resident Steven Haywood, who lodged a complaint at the authority about it in July, after hearing it on Radio 702.

The advertisement included the words: "Imagine a city where you can rest assured, knowing that it is financially stable ... A city that continues to create new jobs despite the economic downturn. ... Can you imagine living in such a city? You do."

Haywood claimed that the commercial told "blatant untruths".

He questioned how the city could claim to be financially stable when it had received three qualified audits from the auditor-general; its waste-management service provider, Pikitup, was bankrupt and left "refuse lying in the streets for days"; and the Johannesburg Roads Agency was unable to repair the city's roads.

The authority agreed that the claims were misleading and, in July, ordered the city to remove the advertisement and not use it again.

However, this was overturned on appeal this week, with the authority finding that the city could back up the claims in the advertisement, focusing exclusively on the fact that the city could prove it was financially stable. The city, which failed to respond to the original complaint before the authority made its ruling, argued that most of Haywood's allegations were on items not referred to in the advertisement and were incorrect.

Source: Business Day, via I-Net Bridge


I-Net Bridge
For more than two decades, I-Net Bridge has been one of South Africa’s preferred electronic providers of innovative solutions, data of the highest calibre, reliable platforms and excellent supporting systems. Our products include workstations, web applications and data feeds packaged with in-depth news and powerful analytical tools empowering clients to make meaningful decisions.

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Bob Lewis
It's surprising this strapline has been challenged after being used for so long - particularly as the challenge comes in the context of financial stability - which is about the only area in which Johannesburg might credibly claim to be 'world class.'

"A world class African city" is inherently problematic anyway.
It implies that there are other world class African cities - in which case the claim is largely meaningless, (i.e. simply implying, 'one of Africa's world class African cities' - so what?)

If the line were "The world class African city," it would make a clear and competitive proposition, albeit one of dubious credibility and probably attracting challenge from other countries on the continent.

And what exactly does 'world class' mean anyway? It's as meaningless as terms like "best of breed" (used outside of a dog show.)
Posted on 29 Jan 2014 15:19
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