Marketing opinion


Subscribe to industry newsletters

Press offices

Enquire about a press office
Bizcommunity has over 400 industry contributors and we always welcome further contributions and contributors.
Advertise with us
Advertise & RatesMy Account
Company press officeList company
Recruitment packagesSubmit job ad
Download ratecard

Marketing opinion

Why the EFF beret is brilliant marketing

Of all the marketing we've seen this election season - all the rallies, the posters, the SMSs and the kissing of babies - one thing has stood out head and shoulders above all the rest.
The banned DA Ayisafani ad ...

... might be on 650,000 views and counting, but the single most brilliant piece of marketing these elections is quite different. It's a red circle of felt with a distinctive, if somewhat clunky logo: the red EFF beret.

You can wear it revolutionary style or fashion style - but no matter what, it you can't ignore it, and that's what makes it so ingenious.

Why the EFF beret is brilliant marketing
I know all about the power of the EFF beret. I'd become friendly with one of their members on Twitter and asked if I could have one. Over the weekend he presented me with one at the gallery where I'm exhibiting paintings inspired by the Nkandla fire pool, and I wore it the entire afternoon.

I may be a small business owner with large corporate clients - which makes me a capitalist - and I may disagree with many of EFF's policies, but I believe in freedom of association, and on Freedom Day I wanted to test that.

The responses were illuminating. I had hipsters stare at me in amazement, a security guard shake my hand, a waitress congratulate me, and an old man call me a clown, twice, before storming out of a restaurant in a rage. On Twitter, I was retweeted, congratulated on being a fighter, and accused of being a traitor or wearing a used sanitary towel.

The red beret leaves no one indifferent

What is it that makes the EFF beret such a brilliant piece of marketing - better, in many respects, than many campaigns produced by brands and agencies?

There are four factors at play, I think.

1. It's visible. The red is distinctive and differentiated. Given that there has been no advertising for the beret, awareness levels are remarkably high. When people saw me wearing it, everyone knew what they were seeing.

2. It makes the EFF look bigger than it actually is. The visibility of the beret means support for the party is immediately apparent, and the EFF itself is far more visible than other parties. Most ANC or DA supporters don't wear branded gear wherever they go. EFF supporters are committed to their headgear.

3. Everybody knows what it stands for. Love it or hate it, there is no confusion about who or what the red EFF beret stands for. For a while it looked like the ANC might cause confusion with a beret of their own, but the EFF has successfully held onto the symbol and made sure that as a signalling device, it's crystal clear. The beret is genuinely meaningful, and that gives it power.

4. It creates a strong sense of group identity. The EFF beret gives you membership to a club. Wear it, and other barriers fall away. For a moment, it didn't matter that I was driving a car and the security guard at the gate works 12 hours a day for a low wage - I wore a symbol of solidarity, and that was enough for him. My guess is that the more others mock or criticise the beret, the stronger a sense of group cohesion it creates.

And in poll position...

Whatever you think about the EFF or their policies, you have to acknowledge how smart they've been in marketing themselves. Not only have they been the victims of ANC violence, they've been clever enough not to allow themselves to be synonymous with Julius Malema. They're a movement, not a personality cult, and this will give them greater longevity.

The test of all this marketing nous will, of course, be at the polls. Next Wednesday's results are going to be very interesting indeed.
    
 

About Sarah Britten

Sarah Britten is a freelance strategist and writer based in Johannesburg. Having worked on brands from Standard Bank, Wimpy and Kulula to MTN and SARS, she now focuses on social media and content strategy. She paints with lipstick (seriously) and once wrote a PhD thesis on the Castle Lager ads. Follow Sarah on Twitter (@Anatinus) and read her blogs at www.nicolandsecond.com and www.thoughtleader.co.za/sarahbritten.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This Message Board accepts no liability of legal consequences that arise from the Message Boards (e.g. defamation, slander, or other such crimes). All posted messages are the sole property of their respective authors. The maintainer does retain the right to remove any message posts for whatever reasons. People that post messages to this forum are not to libel/slander nor in any other way depict a company, entity, individual(s), or service in a false light; should they do so, the legal consequences are theirs alone. Bizcommunity.com will disclose authors' IP addresses to authorities if compelled to do so by a court of law.
Thomas Taylor-Benson
Thomas Taylor-Benson
Looks like you got your history wrong.

And this is not about race so dont make it so. Its about political militancy and the dangers it carries. to ALL people.
Posted on 2 May 2014 12:55
Themba Msimang
I am sorry but did I get my history wrong or were Jews actually welcomed and encouraged to join the NSDAP/NAZI and SS? How many times does juju need to say that EFF does not want to nor will it chase whte people into the sea. White people are welcome and should join the EFF, especially the landless and poor whites. Everyone who would like some justice and fair sharing of the incredible wealth of this country should join. Easy. whats with the bad faith and white guilt driven self-preservation motives?!! Its becoming tiresome - honestly.
Posted on 30 Apr 2014 21:52
Thomas Taylor-Benson
Thomas Taylor-Benson
I could go on at length about the concerns I have for such distinctive branding on that particular accessory for a political party, but I shan't, because I feel you fail to see the more disturbing picture emerging. Suffice to say, apart from a fashion accessory the beret has distinct military overtones and when military wear becomes part of a political party’s overall brand it terrifies me. (Think Hitler, Gadaffi , Idi Amin and numerous other dictatorships) Furthermore I feel it demonstrates the party’s lack of substance and intellect for intelligent debate and compromise in preference of intimidation and bullying.

So all I shall say is this: Not so long ago a small but otherwise unimportant political group used to strut around Germany , parts of Europe, the UK and indeed even in SA in brown shirts and Jackboots and we all know how that ended. And I’m sure some of their supporters initially thought what a ‘’cool Brand’’ they had.
Posted on 30 Apr 2014 19:19
Thomas Taylor-Benson
Thomas Taylor-Benson
I could go on at length about the concerns I have for such distinctive branding on that particular accessory for a political party, but I shan't, because I feel you fail to see the more disturbing picture emerging. Suffice to say, apart from a fashion accessory the beret has distinct military overtones and when military wear becomes part of a political party’s overall brand it terrifies me. (Think Hitler, Gadaffi , Idi Amin and numerous other dictatorships) Furthermore I feel it demonstrates the party’s lack of substance and intellect for intelligent debate and compromise in preference of intimidation and bullying.

So all I shall say is this: Not so long ago a small but otherwise unimportant political group used to strut around Germany , parts of Europe, the UK and indeed even in SA in brown shirts and Jackboots and we all know how that ended. And I’m sure some of their supporters initially thought what a ‘’cool Brand’’ they had.
Posted on 30 Apr 2014 19:16
Justin Bloem
What you're dealing with here is no joke. And most certainly not a marketing concept by any measure. Don't take lightly to your own perception of something that seems "cool". Most importantly...you are not part of this movement (even though you think you might be from an intellectual standpoint). As a writer, you should be observing "Malemaism" through the right spectacles.
Posted on 30 Apr 2014 15:41
Browny White
..And you think your views are correct when you view the south African picture from your middle class rose tinted spectacles. The long taxis queues along shopping centres of black people who come from work in surburbs you call home is a rosy picture to you, isn't it. Whatever views you may hold are correctly yours but that does not put you in any better position to assume that someone who supports the EFF is in a lesser position. You call it Malemaism because you fail to have your own independent examination of what would bring about such a movement that Malema leads. You are stuck with the image of Malema that the media has fed to your brains which the ANC has perpetuated for their own benefit. Perhaps you will never understand what his party stands for because you have no idea what it is line to wait for a taxi to go home, or to spend a day without any food on the table while your employer exploits you day in day out. Perhaps you don't understand the hardships that the poor face everyday, you will never understand the EFFunless you free yourself from your self centered middle class comfort and really begin caring for your fellow country men.
Posted on 1 May 2014 16:03
Justin Bloem
You're a sympton of the sickness we're dying from in this country: Stupidity.
Posted on 30 Apr 2014 15:26
Ledile Seema
Ledile Seema
Hi Sarah,

I share your sentiments, and would like to say this is a well written piece.

On the brighter semiotic side of this, the EFF managed to make a great color choice. RED. When ever we see the color RED we think danger, fire, havioc and so on. The color was well chosen as it represents the fighting side of EFF.

Its amazing how we all know what EFF stands for and how we put the party to a face (Julia's Malema) and whats more amazing is the fact that we turn our heads whenever we see someone who wears that beret.

The beret doesn't only create some buzz, the people who wear it as well fell much better, confident, powerful by just wearing the beret.
Posted on 30 Apr 2014 15:15
Mr Tlanch
Very true Sarah, I remember wearing the beret the first week the beret came out and I went to Killarney, Hyde Park, and Rosebank Malls wearing it. The heads turning was priceless and hearing waiters and waitresses whispering comrade as I went past was brilliance. Then we were not fighters yet, we were associated with comrades, chief etc of the ANC movement. But not only does the beret work, now you hear whispers of fighters when you are at a restaurant and you are wearing this, the SA waiter, the petrol attendance, and ordinary workers, I see workers screaming at me from the back of the bakkies in the afternoon coming from work. And these are the electorate the EFF is targetting, the numbers. Yes, the EFF has support from the black middle class and people from all walks of life, but it is the working class, the labourers that we get more support from. Obviously the shack dwellers and the unemployed. The ANC is ashamed to say how many times they are chased out of people's houses in Alexandra when they are campaigning. And they are very afraid of the EFF.
Posted on 30 Apr 2014 14:05
Benedict Motau
The red beret is a novice markting tool!
Posted on 30 Apr 2014 13:25
Benedict Motau
I fully agree with the red beret as a unique differentiator in the political landscape.

It is similar to the AK-47 which became a legitimate and assault rifle of choice for revolutionary armies, bandits and platoons across the world. It was as if, a revolutionary movement would not be taken seriously if it were not taking photos holding the Russian made assault rifle.

Back to real day realities. As much as the EFF are perceived economic liberators, the means of capital and production of the land are in control of global groups, whose pure profit mandate will adapt to any circumstance. To validate this, just listen to the vernacular radio adverts by mining houses, about employees wives ( Real housewives of Marikana, Rustenburg) complaining that they have no money for petrol, bread, school fees, etc.

The reality is that today and right now, there are thousands of unemployed Matriculants that made the 2013, 78% pass rate, sitting in townships, suburbia and metros across South Africa.

The question- will the EFF's economic liberation offer them a basic salary job on Thursday, the 08th morning of May? Will they receive a basic stipend towards their livelihood on Friday, the 30th May 2014?

All they will probably be stuck with is mere hope, as they watch Juju on tv arrive at a post-election rally, donning the red beret, red t-shirt, red tight pants and eating a red velvet cake, much to their demise. To top it off he will probably be driving a red Porsche Carrera to the occasion.

Go figure!
Posted on 30 Apr 2014 13:03
Zimaseka Njomi
Zimaseka Njomi
Sarah!

I enjoyed reading this, and I agree with all of your points. I am not sure though if the EFF set about to make the beret their visual marketing aid of sorts, however, the result is that it did just that. And none of us can claim to not know that beret, it stands out.

I am not sure if I am as brave as you are, the old man would have called me a clown once and that would have been enough for me to remove the hat at once.
Posted on 30 Apr 2014 11:37
One man one vote one time
A red beret doesn't make a revolutionary. Neither does a navy blue one make a French person.Look at the watches and clothing that Malema wears and tell me he is true to his ideals. I do grudgingly admit that he is getting some good advice, but a great political power he is not.
Posted on 30 Apr 2014 08:30

News