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#OrchidsandOnions Special Section

#OrchidsandOnions: DIY campaigns impress, Supa Quick campaign less so...

There has been much talk about the democratisation of the media, which has been fuelled by new technology. Nowhere is that more apparent than in YouTube where backyard content creators have become millionaires - because marketers see their channels as legitimate, effectives place to run advertising.
#OrchidsandOnions: DIY campaigns impress, Supa Quick campaign less so...

That democratisation has been less visible in marketing where the dominant stereotype is still that of the massive ad agency, using its clever creatives, helping to turn ordinary products into mega-brands. Ironically, some of those who dabble in the digital space rely on the truism that, in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is King and often try to pull the wool over clients’ eyes …but all the while being just as conventional and hidebound as the agency mode they claim to be “disrupting”.

That’s a debate for another time – but I have been impressed by a few DYI marketing campaigns recently which have relied on in-house talent and creativity rather than on mega-charge agencies.

The first is Nomu, which describes itself – not in a shy way, it must be said – as “a trend and innovation-leading, South African, food and lifestyle brand, producing a wide (and still growing) range of different food products”.

#OrchidsandOnions: DIY campaigns impress, Supa Quick campaign less so...

I’ve given them a few Orchids in the past because I like the sometimes iconoclastic way they go about marketing – and their humour.

When Hellmann’s Mayonnaise was abruptly pulled off the market a few weeks ago, Nomu decided to use the opportunity to produce a tactical execution to promote their brand and have a bit of fun at the same time.

The ad, distributed across social media channels, said: “Don’t panic South Africa, we’ll produce a replacement”. Designer Thinus du Plessis mocked up a fake pack design and director Paul Raphaely came up with the name Mayu.

Ha, ha, had and all that. So far so clever. But Nomu discovered some of their distributors took them literally and started clamouring for the product. Suddenly, Nomu had to get its act together and linked up with some people with whom they had already been discussing a line of dressings, oils, and marinates.

And, according to Raphaely, “in roughly four weeks we have gone from ‘Tactical Joke to Practical Product”.

The company has produced a test batch of 1,000 jars and is doing something it’s never done before… “leaving it up to the South African public to tell us if we got it right or not”.

#OrchidsandOnions: DIY campaigns impress, Supa Quick campaign less so...

I think you got it right, Paul. An Orchid for showing that big marketing ideas don’t always have to cost big money. And for making us smile.

Showcasing your product

I’m not a great fan of Facebook advertising and I ignore the vast majority of the ones I see. But I couldn’t help but be stopped in my tracks recently by a debate fired up by Trans Africa Self-Drive Tours and Adventures (Tasda), a Cape-based touring company which offers exactly what its name says.

The debate was sparked by one of their videos, showing a well-stocked Food Lover’s Market in Harare, Zimbabwe and accompanying commentary, pointing out that our northern neighbour is not as bad as many may think.

There was a pile - one of those supporting the motion and those vigorously against it, pointing out the country’s deterioration.

However, the video was well-shot and edited and, because I watched it, more started popping up in my timeline. All were similar – beautiful depictions of the beauty in the countries around us.

I must say, it made me want to go out and get a Land Cruiser and go overlanding.

The best form of marketing is showcasing your product and this is what Trans Africa Self-Drive Tours and Adventures’ videos do. Again, as far as I can see, without a mega-bucks marketing budget.

So, the second Orchid goes to Trans Africa Self-Drive Tours and Adventures.

A great gesture leads to a bad aftertaste

Having just adopted a dog from the SPCA Johannesburg, I was drawn to a campaign run by tyre and motor accessory chain Supa Quick, offering to donate R1,000 to a legitimate animal shelter to cover the costs of adoption.

#OrchidsandOnions: DIY campaigns impress, Supa Quick campaign less so...

I saw the campaign online but, as I scrolled down, saw that entry required you to provide not only your personal details, but also details of the Supa Quick shop you visited and invoice details. There was no indication anywhere in the lengthy terms and conditions that this was a requirement.

After a lengthy back-and-forth with a Supa Quick rep – in which she first claimed to have no knowledge of the campaign – I eventually found out that the promotion also ran on Facebook and that all was required was a photo of the animal to be sent to a WhatsApp number.

I still have my suspicions, though. Why the information requirements? Was this an attempt to get people to buy or, just as bad, sneakily get their personal information to spam them?

Was this deliberately misleading or it was just incompetence – because no one in a position of responsibility checked the ad copy and, if they did, failed to raise a red flag about the potential for an accusation of cynical exploitation?

#OrchidsandOnions: DIY campaigns impress, Supa Quick campaign less so...

Whatever the explanation, Supa-Quick, this leaves a bad aftertaste from what should have been a great gesture.

So, you get an Onion from me. And no – even though I was a customer recently, you can’t have my invoice number…

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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