Kim Penstone

Stupidly South African?

2004-07-15 10:38

Before I begin this discussion, let me first point out that I am proudly (and sometimes stupidly) South African. I support local companies and local brands, I stand up for the country in the midst of those dinner table crime conversations, and I firmly believe that, should the country go to wrack and ruin, I'll be the one to turn the lights off. I've even been known, on occasion, to fly SAA!

It goes without saying then, that I'm also the first to shed a tear when the expats in the underground sing along to Shosholoza, or our national cricket team gets a team talk in their locker room. And should Madiba appear on screen, I'm a lost cause.

Which is why I've been a little surprised over my reaction to the epic commercial from SAB, aptly called "Inspired by a Nation". Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful ad, beautifully shot, and it definitely has the goosebumps factor. But I have this nagging feeling that I've seen it somewhere before?

And, of course, I have! Not in its current format, but in a hundred other very similar formats. Remember "Today I woke up in South Africa"? How about "You've got to love this place. We do"? And, more recently, "With energy, anything is possible"?

They're all lovely ads in their own right. And I fell for them all hook, line and sinker not only because they appeal to the patriot in me, but also because I honestly believe that communication of this ilk helps to build national pride, and goes a long way towards improving relations between the people of this country.

But, as more and more ads of this type flood the market, you can't help but wonder if they're working as hard for their individual brands as they should be. Are they actively building brand loyalty and selling beer? Or are they all merging together in the minds of consumers, doing a damn good job of selling South Africa, but a piss poor job of selling the brands that paid for them?

Could you, for example, switch the Anglo American and SAB logos around? Take SAB off the end of "Inspired by a Nation" and pop it on the end of "You've got to love this place. We do"? Would "Today I woke up in South Africa" work as well for Eskom as "With energy, anything is possible"?

Think about it. Especially if you're in the midst of creating an epic that plays on national pride. Proudly South African has its own marketing budget.

  • Kim Penstone is editor of Marketingweb, a website wholly owned by Moneyweb that focuses on the media, marketing and advertising arena. For more articles of a similar nature, go to

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