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    #OrchidsandOnions: Switzerland brings SA flavour with Trevor Noah and Roger Federer ad

    Like their famous watches, Swiss society works with metronomic precision. If the timetable says the train leaves at 11.03am , then that's what happens...even if you are sprinting down the platform. It's quite something to see, particularly in the company of South Africans, who have a rather flexible idea of time and deadlines.
    #OrchidsandOnions: Switzerland brings SA flavour with Trevor Noah and Roger Federer ad

    Some people feel Switzerland is too regulated – but after the chaos of daily life here, I always found the country to be a soothing balm of efficiency….and achingly beautiful to boot.

    Local SA flavour

    Those Swiss traits are captured perfectly in a new ad for Switzerland Tourism and, although it is not from this country, it stars two “half South Africans”, so it certainly has a local SA flavour. Those two are tennis superstar Roger Federer (whose father was Swiss and mother South African) and household name comedian Trevor Noah, who also had a Swiss father and South African mother.

    The storyline starts in a Swiss railway station, where they are preparing to shoot the Switzerland Tourism ad to promote its rail offerings. The banter is nicely relaxed and even Federer doesn’t do a bad acting job – perhaps put at ease by Noah who seems to be perfectly at home, with a cheeky grin, whatever the situation.

    Somehow they lose the production crew when they get on the wrong train – with no tickets, no wallets. As the train – with its massive windows and glass ceilings – traverses the stunning countryside, the two talk. Right up until the conductor arrives to ask for their tickets.

    Noah tells her he is a world-famous comedian – but she responds (in a very humorous, un-Swiss like manner) that she doesn’t think he can pay for his fare in jokes. Another passenger offers to pick up the tab and all is well. The experience is so wonderful – Noah calls it his best journey ever – that, when they reach the “wrong” destination, they decide to do it all over again, dumping the film crew once more.

    Great casting

    It's a great marketing idea to combine two people who are at the top of their respective fields and have a strong Swiss connection, to promote the country. There are plenty of opportunities to take in the magnificence of the scenery and vignettes which showcase Swiss efficiency and friendliness.

    You know it’s tongue-in-cheek, but you can’t help watching because it is entertaining and a visual feast. At the same time, all the salient marketing points are made in a subtle way.

    It’s a classic tourism ad and it gets Switzerland Tourism an Orchid from me. And you pick up one each as well, Trevor and Roger.

    Loose canons

    I often wonder how brands interview potential employees for their social media teams – especially given that such workers will be entrusted with not damaging (at the very least) an image which may have taken decades to build up.

    What you don’t want, I would guess, is some clever who thinks that running your public communication channel is no different to his or her Twitter or Instagram account.

    #OrchidsandOnions: Switzerland brings SA flavour with Trevor Noah and Roger Federer ad

    Sadly, judging from interactions I see often on Twitter particularly, there are plenty of social media loose cannons out there.

    The latest is from the person or people who run the Twitter account for Bafana Bafana, our national football team. Now, cynics might say that, given the dismal track record of the team, there is not much worth saying…and they’d be correct. So, when there is something worth celebrating – like the recent qualification for the African Cup of Nations, you’d expect the social media team to be jumping up and down, encouraging everyone to celebrate.

    Not so the grumpy Bafana Bafana Twitter account team who churlishly responded to EWN Sport using a Bafana Bafana sourced video, that they should “Kindly credit source…”

    Not unexpectedly, there was a pile on in the responses, with no-one supporting their comments and many pointing out that the job of the Bafana social media team was to do just that – disseminate material about them. A fish should not be praised for swimming was the common thread in the comments.

    There were plenty of other ways to have taken advantage of the EWN post – although wet-behind-the-ears social geeks might not have realised that.

    For producing a sour note on a happy occasion, the Bafana Bafana social media people get an Onion from me. Perhaps someone with a bit more experience of the real world should go and have a word with them…

    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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