Chris Moerdyk

How is Brand Zuma doing?

2009-08-17 09:13

Roughly 14 weeks ago, I discussed in this column, all the pre-election and inauguration "advertising" behind President Jacob Zuma and promised to look at it again after his first 100 days in office. Which is right now.

At the time, I suggested that whether a brand succeeds or fails often depends on whether it can live up to its advertising claims.

One indicator of how he has performed has been provided by someone who was undoubtedly his greatest critic - local cartoonist, Zapiro. You will remember that just after the inauguration, Zapiro removed the showerhead from Zuma's head and promised to put it back if he didn't perform and lift it higher and higher if he did.

Just after Zuma's unannounced arrival in Balfour two weeks ago, Zapiro's Zuma barometer showed the showerhead rising up to the second highest level possible. It only has one more step to go before disappearing completely.

So, if Zapiro is happy with the way things are going - maybe we can assume that a lot of Zuma's advertising claims have been spot on.

But let's look at the rest.

He wanted to return to the values set by Nelson Mandela. Good advertising that. There certainly seem to be indications that he has tried to do this.

He wanted to promote "friendship, harmony, co-operation and unity" among political parties. A tough call in just 100 days, but at least he is still saying he wants to try.

Well, maybe he hasn't personally been at loggerheads with any of the opposition party leaders, but I'm not convinced he has managed to get people like Patricia de Lille and Helen Zille into the friendship, harmony and co-operation category quite yet.

He wanted to get his MPs to understand opposition politics and not turn every bit of criticism from the opposition into a petulant confrontation. I reckon that was a tall order and will probably take a lot more than 100 days to get some of those confrontational mindsets changed.

He told ANC MPs, provincial leaders and his Cabinet that they had better knuckle down and do some hard work. And he created a special body within the presidency just to make sure that everyone is pulling their weight and do it honestly. His ads literally screamed; "Get on with it or get out."  Well, he is certainly still pushing this same message very hard.

He has also said that he owes nobody anything which seems to be advertising the fact that the Mbeki era of jobs for friends and protecting one's buddies, is over. Hmmm, this is the most dodgy area of all. There are a lot of people who still see what appears to be jobs for friends. Remember, its all about perception and not reality.

Then, he has frequently advertised the fact that he won't put up with fraud or corruption in government. While President Zuma still sticks to this stance, all that media publicity about ministers' expensive cars has created the perception that the gravy train is still on track in spite of the fact that Zuma could argue that the amount of money MPs and minister could spend on their cars was entrenched in a policy that he inherited.

Let's face it; 100 days ago we couldn't fault Brand Zuma's advertising campaign one bit. Like great advertising, all of it seemed to be exactly what South Africa consumers wanted to hear. And there was some humble stuff as well, like saying he only wanted to serve one term of office.

My feeling is that President Zuma has certainly stuck to his advertised claims so far and that it would be unfair to expect many of those claims to fall into place within 100 days.

There certainly seems to be far more intensity and action among his ministers - much, much more so than those of his predecessor.

My impression is that he has certainly exceeded our expectation of him. And from an advertising point of view - that is very impressive.

Send your comments to Chris

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  helen zille  |  zapiro  |  jacob zuma


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


There is a restless need for action and you may go overboard and fill your day with too many things in the need to be more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.