Kim Penstone

Fishy advertising

2004-11-23 12:31

So I couldn't resist jumping on the shark-hunting bandwagon. I tried, I really did, and then I realised that it wasn't worth resisting. The lure was just too strong...

First, let me point out that I feel desperate for victims of shark attacks. More desperate, perhaps, for their devastated families. I can't even imagine the anguish of losing a loved one in such an horrific fashion.

That said, I'm beginning to feel just as desperate for the sharks (not the rugby team, I'm really not that kind of gal!).

Why the empathy for the fishy fiends? Simply, I guess, because I believe they're getting a rather raw deal.

Here's the thing. When some foreigner leaves the safety of his car and sneaks up on a pride of lion in the hopes of getting a better snapshot of the kings of the jungle, and then ends up with half an arm, we all shout in unison "Stupid tourist!".

And when another foreigner (let's say, for instance, a Capetonian) wanders through Hillbrow at the dead of night perhaps in the hopes of stumbling across the Sands Hotel, and then ends up with knife hole in the leg, we all shout in unison, "Stupid tourist!"

Dangerous territory

The bottom line is that some parts of our country are more dangerous than others. Not all have been colonised into white-picket-fenced (okay, big-electrified-fenced) suburbia. Although, that's not exactly safe these days either...

My point, however, is that in this country (as in most countries), it's always wise to give a thought to the local inhabitants - and their levels of ferocity - before invading their territory.

And let's face it, the open ocean belongs to the sharks, in much the same way as the open savannah belongs to lions.

If you're silly enough to wander into their terrain without taking the proper safety precautions, you can (and should) expect the locals to be a) curious enough about your nutritional value to attempt a bite or b) threatened enough by your arrogant presence to test your mettle.

It's what comes naturally. It's just a pity more of us don't understand that.

My suggestion, for what it's worth, is to educate, educate, educate.

And given my predilection for marketing, I'm thinking an advertising campaign. In fact, Open Water has done a fine job of starting the campaign - now we just need to take it out of Hollywood and into Cape Town.

Picture it: December. The Vaalies flock to Clifton (don't ask me why - the below-freezing water should be warning enough that humans aren't welcome).

The campaign

Anyway, they arrive en masse, clad in Diesel bikinis and luminous Billabong shorts, fake-tanned up to the nines, to be greeted with a campaign that says simply: "This ocean is not your playground. It's his. [Insert picture of ferocious shark here]"

It may not be enough to keep the Vaalies out the water (of course, us Vaalies aren't easily frightened - we live in the most dangerous city in the world, and tend to poo-poo anything that doesn't carry an AK-47), but it's a good start.

At the very least, it's a warning (kind of like those 'Don't get out of the car' notices at the Krugersdorp Lion Park).

Then I'm thinking we could supplement the campaign with something that localises the situation, puts it into Vaalie perspective.

So, something like: "Would you leave your cell phone lying on your passenger seat, while driving through centre town? Or treat a red light like a red light, not a stop street, at 2am in the morning?

In Gauteng, we respect the law of the jungle. Don't stop just because you're in Cape Town. [Insert picture of another ferocious shark here]"

Couple that with some beachside screenings of Open Water, and I reckon the message might start filtering through.

Maybe I'll send a suggestion to the Cape Town tourism authorities, just to see if they value a Vaalie life more than the Vaalie Rand? But I won't hold my breath!

  • Kim Penstone used to love swimming in the sea, but suddenly swimming pools are looking more attractive. She has a healthy respect for sharks, was terrified during Open Water, and wouldn't even consider dipping a big toe in the water at Ushaka Marine World. She believes that living in Gauteng has taught her to respect the laws of the jungle.

    Send your comments to Kim

  • If you're interested in the more serious side of marketing and advertising, you can find that on

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