‘I love Durban a scam’ — blogger

2014-03-18 00:00

A RESPECTED Durban tech blogger claims the digital media campaign bidding to win an international environmental award for the city is being fuelled by fake follower accounts.

But Carver Media, the company which says they own the trademark to “I Love Durban”, has dismissed the claims and said their online following was real.

They were awarded a R500 000 contract by the eThekwini Metro earlier this month to promote the “We Love Cities Challenge” — an initiative by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).

Durban is one of 33 finalists along with Cape Town and cities in Brazil, Mexico, Europe and South Korea.

How a city wins the award is based on the amount of interactions it has with with residents via social media and the We Love Cities website.

The Durban campaign hit the headlines this weekend when the Sunday Tribune revealed Carver Media had been paid R500 000 to run it for the city.

Durban tech blogger Marc Forrest said from looking at a small sampling of people and accounts he was “confident that the large majority of the tweets for this campaign, for the Durban entries, are fake”.

“This is unacceptable for a worldwide competition, which has a global following, and I really trust the WWF, who is behind this competition, does some thorough investigation and analysis to ensure that all tweets are legitimate and non-fraudulent before announcing the winners,” said Forrest.

Co-owner of Carver, Praneetha Aniruth, dismissed the allegations and said they gave the city value for money.

“We believe the accusation we have received is largely due to the success of the campaign we have been running. We believe it is value for money as not only does our contract involve interaction with the Durban residents over several social platforms but it included targeted online advertising which, if done correctly, is complex,” said Aniruth.

Aniruth said she was upset by the claims that they have fake followers on both their Facebook and Twitter followers.

She said the “I Love Durban” slogan which has its own Facebook, Twitter and website address is a registered trademark owned by Carver Media and on the strength of the following it already has Carver Media was best positioned to head this campaign.

“We are up against Cape Town for the prize of being the most sustainable and loveable city in Africa. Our interaction goes beyond just being on social platforms but also drawing residents to city locations,” said Aniruth.

The city’s DA leadership has called the expenditure “ an absolute disgrace” claiming the city has 48 communication staff members — excluding interns — and a budget of R48 million. The party claimed the communications team had one person in their office dedicated to maxi­mising value out of the digital media space for the city.

The R500 000 was awarded under Section 36 of the Municipal Finance Management Act which allows the tender process to be circumvented if the award is an emergency or if there are no other service providers available.

Included among their duties are two Facebook status updates a week, uploading three pictures to Facebook a week, sending a bulk e-mail, tweet with the hashtag #weloveDurban, upload YouTube videos and upload 20 images to Instagram.

Voting for the competition closes on Thursday with the winner being announced on March 27.

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