Chris Moerdyk

Time to tune up the toyi-toyi

2013-06-24 07:51

Chris Moerdyk

Much as it might get up the noses of conservative whites, toyi-toying has actually contributed positively to South African society in general and marketing in particular.

It has demonstrated to consumers that it is not only acceptable to complain about poor product quality and dismal service, but that it is important to do so with meaning and vigour.

One could almost go so far as to say that the marketing industry probably owes the trade union movement a debt of gratitude for this healthy and much needed contribution to consumerism.

And if so, I would like to suggest that our representative marketing bodies should do the honourable thing and repay this debt by offering to coach trade unionists on some other aspects of marketing they might find useful.

Contribution to well-being

For starters, an enormous contribution to the well-being of everyone in this country could be made by using those most simple machinations of marketing to demonstrate to trade unionists that it is possible to get the attention of the most distracted and disinterested target market without having to go to all that trouble of trying to empty every rubbish bin into the middle of the street.

Or, for that matter having to schlep out into the remote depths of South Africa to find a tanker full of raw sewage to spew all over the place. Not to mention hacking to death anyone who doesn't actually want to join in a protest.

Marketing is guaranteed to save all that unnecessary hassle.

An even more important lesson to learn from marketing, concerns the intricate fragility of Brand South Africa. Much as militant unionists might abhor the notion of globalisation and the principle of capitalism, a stark, non-debatable fact of life is that South Africa cannot survive in isolation. It relies almost completely on the rest of the world to prosper. It needs global trading, foreign investment and tourists. It simply cannot do without them. Marketing did not teach us that, the Nats did.

Tempting investors

And, while our foreign partners are indeed impressed that we have one of the world's best working democracies in which the right of workers to protest and strike is protected, they tend to be more than put off when the see that constitutional right being manifested as some sort of childish temper tantrum.

Trying to tempt investors and tourists to South Africa with televised scenes of trashed city centres and streets awash in garbage is about as pointless as advertising bottles of cold drink full of dead cockroaches as "protein enriched".

Oh indeed, there are all sorts of interesting little things the marketing industry can teach trade unionists. All wonderfully simple, economic and practical alternatives to shooting themselves in the foot and their beloved country in the head.

- Follow Chris on Twitter.

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