Profile

Brendan Seery has been in the news business for most of his life, covering coups, wars, famines - and some funny stories - across Africa. Brendan Seery's Orchids and Onions column ran each week in the Saturday Star in Johannesburg and the Weekend Argus in Cape Town. Contact him now on
Read more
#OrchidsandOnions: KFC makes a meal of it but Maroon 5's Three Little Words give me ad indigestion

One of the things to be thankful for about the FIFA Football World Cup 2018 (Trade Mark registered) is that it was not held here... if only for the fact we wouldn't have to put up with God-awful Budweiser beer...

By Brendan Seery 17 Jul 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Cross-cultural confusion makes a funny ad, PR confusion makes an unhappy editor...

It doesn't take a lot to make South Africans angry... and facts, especially, are not needed when there is an angry argument to be made on social media...

By Brendan Seery 3 Jul 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Fly, the beloved country... high above the "vapour research"

These days, when you leave the toxic atmosphere of Twitter (and I am forced to lurk there as part of my job as a newsman), you feel as though you should have a chemical decontamination shower, so vile is some of the anger and hatred...

By Brendan Seery 26 Jun 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: The boozy road not taken... and lies, damned lies and surveys

Hangovers, they say, are God's way of telling you to lay off the booze. And, anyone who has had one will know the "why did I do it?" feeling of remorse...

By Brendan Seery 19 Jun 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Nothing beats this Benz... or the hope that sport can one day unite us

It was one of the most talked-about pieces of marketing in quite a few months, the Mercedes-Benz recreation of its famous 1990 TV commercial, about how one of its brilliantly engineered cars saved the life of its driver when he crashed 100m down the side of Chapman's Peak outside Cape Town...

By Brendan Seery 12 Jun 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Sanral bravely tackles the long road back from reputation damage...

As far as government agencies or parastatals that we "love to hate" go, the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) is right up there with Eskom...

By Brendan Seery 5 Jun 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: The future of advertising may be - shock! horror! - digital fraud

There are many moments which remain in our memories but, for a petrolhead like me, it will always be the moment I first had control of a car...when I managed to get it moving forward in first gear without stalling and then, because we had a long driveway, a quick change into second gear and braking to a stop...

By Brendan Seery 29 May 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: The dignity of discipline and labour, contrasting with the invasion of your space...

When I grew up, there was never much money in the house. And, with Irish ancestry, I have a fear of poverty in my DNA, which can probably be traced back to the Irish Famine. So, I am careful with money...

By Brendan Seery 22 May 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Cheers, from the lads, to Windhoek Lager - but, FNB, How the Hell can we believe you?

Beer is, for the most part, a product for men. They are, by far, the majority of its consumers and, therefore, the advertising is generally directed at them. And over the years, beer advertising as a genre has generated some good ads and some shockers...

By Brendan Seery 15 May 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Tales of great marketing communication from our own political Twilight Zone - and Volvo breaks the advertising mould

There are times, in modern-day South Africa, when you feel as though you have woken up in some sort of Twilight Zone - where things are upside down, or not where you expect them to be...

By Brendan Seery 1 May 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Getting lost in translation is one thing, but using someone else's incorrect, and dangerous, garbage is something totally different

I am not always convinced that a brand which makes arbitrary funny gags as "content" - which is light on, or even missing, a marketing message - is doing the right thing. A brand exists to sell its product or service, not to entertain...

By Brendan Seery 24 Apr 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Country roads, take me home... to the ad which makes me want to take a road trip

One of my greatest pleasures is a road trip. Getting up before sunrise, packing, with the aroma of the bacon-and-egg sarmies wafting through the car, almost as heady as the anticipation in the air. And this country, South Africa, has provided me, and my family, with some amazing memories...

By Brendan Seery 17 Apr 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Orchids for Wimpy cuteness - but Onions for PR sloppiness...

There's cute and there's cute and knowing how not to overdo it or get too twee and clever - that's what makes the difference between ordinary and great advertising...

By Brendan Seery 10 Apr 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: When cute becomes cloying and how to win (and lose) at the car insurance business

Sometimes cute does work in advertising. And sometimes, as a critic of advertising, if you pan something which is cute - or, even more dangerous, includes an animal - you incur the wrath of diverse constituencies, whose hate mail wishes you all manner of unpleasantness...

By Brendan Seery 27 Mar 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: "Cityproof" Nissan Qashqai hits the urban edgy spot, but latest Castle Lager ad has no fizz, bru (brew?)...

I've always had a soft spot for Nissan: I learned to drive in a Datsun (that was originally the main brand and corporate name for Nissan) and I own a rare Datsun sports car. But other than those cars, I've never felt that attracted to Nissan's modern day products, interesting and quality cars though they are...

By Brendan Seery 20 Mar 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Corporate social responsibility should be more than a clever marketing con trick...

Corporate social responsibility, as a concept, sounds fine in theory... but in practice, it often turns out to be another marketing scam...

By Brendan Seery 13 Mar 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: When kindness can be deadly... and when bad PR means a lost opportunity

When I had my "conversion", it wasn't on the road to the biblical road to Damascus; it was on the back of a large elephant...

By Brendan Seery 7 Mar 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Up and over - to the place called Obsession gets an Orchid for Toyota's Prado...

My colleague and friend, Paballo, is a photographer and, as is the mark of a top camera person, he can be slightly obsessive about getting things right: exposure, composition, expression - they all have to be just so...

By Brendan Seery 27 Feb 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Real appeal for real people is how Kia's Sportage rolls... but who let Sanral's strange Valentine's Day road map out in public?

Advertising has sometimes been described as the art of enticing people into buying things they don't need and they can't afford. In the car business, especially, it is often dreams which are being sold... sadly, those sort of dreams which can get people into big financial trouble eventually...

By Brendan Seery 20 Feb 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Back to the Future, with science. But, Vodacom needs to get back to the basics of customer service...

I remember looking, in some amazement, at the results pinned on the school notice board: I had got a distinction for physical science. Next to the board was our lugubrious, pipe-smoking, Mr Bean-like science teacher, "Rab" Wright...

By Brendan Seery 14 Feb 2018

Next >