Friends & Friction – Branding politicians: A dialogue

2013-09-03 10:00

Ok, team. It’s time to polish the politicians, reposition them and turn them into brands.

»?Mr Creative Director, do you think that consumers, sorry, I meant to say voters, see the difference between the various politicians?

‘Consumers’ is the right term because we consume their speeches, but I’ll answer your question with another.

Do you think consumers can tell the difference between the various brands of bottled water?

Brands are not a matter of the brain but of the heart, and so are politicians. You hate them first, then find your reasons for it, and the opposite is also true.

»?I disagree, Mr Creative Director. I listen carefully to what they say and then make my decision.

This is not a debate. We are here to make campaigns that we sell to our clients, which they in turn sell to the general public.

I think politicians should be like judges, if you ask me. The job must be for life, then they won’t have reason to steal hurriedly before their term ends.

»?But governing the country is different, sir.

Listen, clever Dick, I am the thinker here and the rest of you are doers. My role as Creative Director is to make democracy work, not to practise it.

I want to see the campaign for President Jacob Zuma from you, now.”

»?I’ve got one: ‘Zoom, zoom the economy with Jacob Zuma.’

I like it. It has all the elements of a good campaign line. A good slogan doesn’t over promise. In fact, it shies away from promises, which is why lines like ‘Yes, we can!’ work so well.

»?I’ve got another one: ‘Be careful who you give your vote to, because you can’t get it back.

Clever line, Dick, but it’s irrelevant?.?.?.?the line for the Economic Freedom Fighters?

»?I have a bit of a moral dilemma that we are servicing competing clients.

Tata owns Jaguar and Range Rover and they make ads for both brands. No one has ever accused them of being unethical. It’s called a multibrand strategy.

»?My line for Malema is, ‘Zuma, get the eff out o’ there.’

That’s harsh.

»?Harsh is good. This is politics. You see, the mistake that former president Thabo Mbeki made when he was campaigning for the third term was that he was too polite.

When Franklin D Roosevelt campaigned for his third term in 1940, guess what his slogan was?


Better a third term than a third-rater. Now that was harsh.

»?Ja, that’s harsh.But I also have a tactical ad. I heard Malema is talking to Amcu about forming an alliance. The day they tie the knot, we’re going to run a poster that says AMCOUP.

Right, and how are we doing on Agang?

»?R55 million, s’khothane saMamphela.

I love that because it says nothing, just something that resonates with young people.

It’s nothing new, which is good because she is also saying nothing new.

»?But sir, Agang’s biggest competitor is the DA. They say Helen Zille is the black Mamphela Ramphele.

Then we need a negative campaign: “Hel’ No Zille! Hel’ No!” I like that, and a campaign for the DA?

»?Halala Helen, halala!

And our last client, but not least – Sam Shilowa. He is making a comeback.”

»?Fight Terror.

»?Kuzwayo is the Founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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