Advertising News South Africa

#OrchidsandOnions: Making the right noises

City of Cape Town campaign highlights gender-based violence; KFC gets recipe wrong with senseless suspension of famous 'finger lickin' good' slogan...

Gender-based violence (GBV) is such a part of the fabric of our dysfunctional society that sometimes it can seem overwhelming. How do you stop it, what do you do?

Because of that, it is even more challenging to those putting together messages about GBV; although I would hesitate to call them “marketing” messages they still, in many cases, incorporate the classic sales pitch “call to action”.

HelloFCB+ and the City of Cape Town came up with a simple way of getting people to take action when they become aware of women or children being abused – because hearing the message is really no good unless it can help save someone, or get someone out of harm’s way.

The way they chose to emphasise that help is just a phone call away was to focus on the numbers in the telephone help line.

As each number – of a house or apartment – flashed on the screen, it was accompanied by the sounds of some clear violence.

That made the point simply, but elegantly, that this sort of abuse is everywhere we look – next door, in the flat above, or across the street.

Flighted on social media and online during the height of the lockdowns when people were forced to stay at home, it made the grim, but absolutely true point: for many, staying home isn’t staying safe.

As the image of a terrified young woman dissolved, we (those affected and those who sadly turn a blind eye) were reminded that we have a duty… “If you hear something, say something”.

Then followed the full telephone number.

The spot had to be creatively put together because, during the strict lockdowns, outside shooting was curtailed drastically.

So, HelloFCB+ made use of stock shot images and video with top-class editing.

It seems almost counterintuitive to give an Orchid to a campaign which has such a stark message. But I see the message as a beacon of hope for women, many of whom suffered increased abuse during the lockdowns.

And it worked, too. Shared across YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, the video generated 3.3 million impressions, reached 1.49 million people and directed 35,891 people to the City of Cape Town’s website.

As public service messages go, it is excellent and shows that the people of Cape Town can be happy that their ratepayers’ money is being put to good use by the city.

Well done to City of Cape Town and to HelloFCB+.

This week’s 'What Were They Thinking' Onion goes to the global KFC group, which this week decided on some weapons-grade virtue signalling and polishing its corporate responsibility halo by announcing to the world that it had suspended the use of its iconic slogan 'Finger lickin’ good', because that was clearly not right for the hypersensitive Covid-19 world of 2020.

In a global statement, KFC called itself, in faux deprecating mode, “the winner of the award for the most inappropriate slogan for 2020”. “We find ourselves in a unique situation – having an iconic slogan that doesn’t quite fit in the current environment,” said marketing officer Catherine Tan-Gillespie.

“While we are pausing the use of 'it's finger lickin’ good', rest assured the food craved by so many people around the world isn’t changing one bit.”

You wonder what point KFC was trying to make. Don’t lick your fingers because you could get Covid-19 from our products? Don’t lick someone else’s fingers? Wash your hands thoroughly after eating our drumsticks?

The other strange issue is the timing. The virus has been around and killing people across the globe since the beginning of December last year. Why are you only saying this now, KFC?

It all sounds like a cheap way to capitalise on a crisis, much as many brands did with their sickening “we’re all in this together” rubbish in the early days of the international lockdowns.

Maybe it was a way to reactivate interest in a slogan which has gone beyond its sell-by date? Oh? Thanks for reminding us…

When you totally remove one of your brand’s unique selling points – that it is so delicious you can’t resist licking your fingers – with one which is exactly the opposite (don’t lick your fingers after eating our product, it could be dangerous), your marketing clevers are putting you in line for an Onion. And licking your fingers won’t help…

About Brendan Seery

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.

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