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#OrchidsandOnions Content Feature

#OrchidsandOnions: Nando's gives us a real feed

A time away from SA in the UK gives you more perspective on our local ad scene and, while I don't think our advertising in South Africa is exactly shooting the lights out creatively, I don't think it's much better abroad.
#OrchidsandOnions: Nando's gives us a real feed

It was nice to be reminded that we can still laugh at, and with, ourselves…and the brands who have done that in the past are still at it.

Call to action

So, I loved the NetFlorist radio ads around Valentine’s Day, featuring someone called “Cyril” who was phoning Harold’s Relationship Hotline for advice about having a “candlelit dinner” for this wife.

Ho ho, with load shedding, plenty of dinners these days are going to be by the flickering light of a candle. At the same time, the ad was a timeous reminder to the romantics out there to get their orders in, chop-chop, so it included the oh-so-important call to action.

Another Orchid, then, for Netflorist.

Real feed

The simplicity, yet cleverness of that execution reminded me also that Nando’s is still up there with the best when it comes to appropriate and smart advertising. In this case, it was the message and the medium (or platform) which combined so well.

It was a simple promoted ad on Twitter, which popped up on everyone’s feed and then made the point that if you wanted a “real feed” then you should get yourself along to Nando’s.

Right place, right time, right line. And another Orchid for Nando’s.

A bang for the marketing buck?

The big talking point in South African marketing this year has been the proposal by SA Tourism to spend almost R1bn on a three-year sponsorship deal with English Premiership football club Tottenham Hotspur.

Everybody’s heard the arguments about how and where this money could be better spent in a country suffering from poverty and huge inequality. I am not going to discuss that because I do believe that one does have to invest to sell a product or brand and that the question should rather be about whether this deal does offer bang for marketing buck. And I’m not sure it does.

While sports sponsorship has boomed around the world over the past 30 years, it is the brands who go big, rather than go home, which have made an indelible impression. Think about Red Bull. The energy drink has become synonymous with high-action adrenalin-charged lifestyle. Its sponsorship of everything from base jumping to aircraft pylon racing, along with its foray into Formula One racing, has ensured that.

I am less sure, though, that brands who put their money – as SA Tourism was planning to so – into having their logo on the shirts of a sports team, will see a real return on investment. Of course, those in favour will trot out impressive figures about audiences and viewers…but ask your fans who sponsors their team and you’ll either get a blank look or, if they do know, they’ll tell you they care little about the brands. An exception to that is Emirates Airline, and another Gulf carrier, Etihad, which have given their names to stadiums, ensuring the fans have a home.

There’s a danger, therefore of putting Visit SA logos on the shirts of Spurs. In all the hoo-hah around the deal, few people have noticed that for the first year – this 2023/24 season – Visit SA branding will only be seen on training shirts…and then not in certain European or global competitions. It will only be from the 2024-25 season that we will get full exposure. And even then, the logo is to appear on a shirt sleeve – hardly max visibility.

The other problem is that this campaign is being touted as increasing awareness – yet many football fans already know about South Africa, thanks to the successful Fifa World Cup we held in 2010. What is needed is a campaign to capitalise on awareness – getting the proverbial bums in seats. And, to my mind, that money would be better spent on marketing via the various travel websites, like TripdAdvisor, Expedia and

While SA Tourism Acting CEO Themba Khumalo deserves an Onion on his own for the arrogant way he handled the first press conference (it could be called How Not to win friends and influence people 101), my billion-rand Onion goes to SA Tourism as a whole for coming up with the concept in the first place – and for trying to pursue it against the obvious sentiment in the country.

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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