And Elon Musk scores an Orchid for showing he cares about dogs - but as for Chas Everitt.
The Purple Cow walking billboards campaign.
Those of us who are fortunate enough to have places to stay, jobs or sufficient money to survive, do sometimes feel overwhelmed by the poverty we see around us every day.
We have what is called donor, or charity, fatigue. Who do we give to? Which cause is the more worthy? Which person’s life might be changed (even in a tiny way) by what we give? At the same time, what about those we can’t help?
Nowhere is that angst for us, the well-off, harder to bear than when we pull up at an intersection in our air-conditioned cars and see the homeless, or the unemployed, begging to stay alive.
Not exactly the place where you could run advertising – at least a campaign which would be effective and get your brand noticed.
Yet, that is exactly what Brand Factor did on behalf of its client, Purple Cow, by paying unemployed people to be their “mobile billboards” at busy intersections.
Not only does the person present a message other than the normal “Please Help, Thanks God”, but they earn a bit of money (R50 an hour, or R200 for a four-hour day). And motorists not only take in the message about Purple Cow – which is a teaser at the moment, with a “watch this space” note – but they feel a little bit better about the world around them.
Sarah Britten Pillay, the strategic director at Brand Factor, tells me the reaction from the public was mostly positive.
Most of the comments have been very positive, “with people getting excited that there’s a brand doing something positive.”
In addition, the teaser nature of the first phase has definitely pricked interest ahead of the main launch.
So, the campaign does what any good marketing communication should say on the tin. At the same time, it does a little something extra for the country. And it does it with refreshing simplicity and none of the cynical use of ‘good causes’, which characterises a number of campaigns these days.
So, to Purple Cow and Brand Factor, a matched set of Orchids. Because successful advertising is also about allowing your agency to go with innovation…
Whatever South African-born Elon Musk may have done or not done to alarm financial regulators in the States in recent months (he is often a loose cannon when it comes to public communication), his Tesla cars have become the favourites of the “save the planet” crowd.
We can debate the real cost to the planet of supposedly “green” technologies like electric cars till fossil fuels run out, but that is not a discussion for here and now.
What I did notice recently on Twitter, because so many people were talking about it, was Tesla’s newly introduced “Dog Mode” for its cars.
This allows an owner to leave the mutts in the car, with the windows up, and the car will automatically run the aircon and re-circulate the air so the canines don’t get heat-stressed.
It’s a great idea – and which Musk ordered into production following a suggestion from a Tesla owner.
It has gone down amazingly well with animal lovers everywhere. Even those who don’t currently own a Tesla will possibly move to one because of the feature – but also because the company has shown it cares for animals.
It is great product development put to amazing marketing effect. And it acknowledges the reality that pet owners are an important target market.
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...
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
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