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

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  • Maphilly - 2009-08-17 09:36

    At least there is an anlyst who is not consumes into harbouring negativity without objectively qualifying it. At times, i ask myself "if Mbeki was at the helm at this juncture, what will be assessmet?"

  • NIGEL - 2009-08-17 09:56


  • Henry - 2009-08-17 10:35

    You're not really saying anything.

  • Anon1 - 2009-08-17 11:00

    Problem is that its a mixed bag of good and bad.
    Good - Firing the Correctional Services MP's for renting expensive houses on the golf estate.
    Bad - Not doing anything to Minesta Balfour for doing exactly the same thing. This is something that could have set his administration apart from Mbeki's, by showing real intent and not protect a comrade for wating the public's tax money.
    Bad - We all know Shaik got out because of political connection with Zuma (if you do not believe this, then you are just plain ignorant, believing in the Tooth Fairy is more realistic!). What about the under-performing Minesta's, tender corruption and the likes - no action just lip service!

  • fraud - 2009-08-17 11:06

    I concur.

  • eugene - 2009-08-17 11:22

    Im not a Zuma fan but I will give him this, he has done a rather okayish job. I would rather still keep my full verdict to myself since Im still deciding. The thing that still bothers me is the "jobs for friends" and the whole Shaik saga, and the NHI that he wants to implement. But up till now... I think he has surprised some of us, and also done a bit more than what we expected he would.

  • SIHLE@CHRIS - 2009-08-17 11:38


  • Pop Idol - 2009-08-17 11:46

    His friend Shabir Shaik is out of jail so this doesnt mean like Zuma is interested in fighting corruption when he himself is corrupt..But then when one looks at what lurks on the left wing of south africa's political scene,Zuma actually looks like a very nice person.

  • Real - 2009-08-17 11:50

    Ironically this article is also a successfull advertising campaign to score political points for yourself. Chris Moerdyk ek m#%r jou sommer!

  • Claire - 2009-08-17 12:27

    I was one of the pessimists who thought JZ would be the end of this country but I have been converted. So far the man has done nothing but impress me. So far, the effect he has had on the way the country is run is refreshing. Now lets just hope he keeps it up!

  • Adrian - 2009-08-17 12:42

    @Real-i agree. He is looking for tenders just like Sinudeity!!!!

  • Pop Idol - 2009-08-17 12:45

    @Claire,,what do u mean by 'the effect he has had on the way the country is run is refreshing'???...Trevor Manual is running the country.Zuma is more of a public relations officer for President Manual.

  • Ivan - 2009-08-17 12:52

    Chris, I also saw the cartoon, but the second one looked like the "showerhead" was decidedly dropping back down again??

  • Jane - 2009-08-17 12:59

    Didnt old Bob Mugabe also say he would only serve one term of office?

    I think the fact that we havent heard much from Zuma in the past 100 days seems to mean he is doing a reasonable job.

  • David - 2009-08-17 13:04

    It's every marketer's nightmare when product performance doesn't live up to the advertising promise. While it is known that Moerdyk is not the world's most astute judge when it comes to great advertising and marketing, compounded by his secondment to the Communications portfolio by his ANC party it is difficult to assume complete objectivity. It was Oglivy that said "Don't advertise a product at all until you are sure it can deliver and if you make claims to the consumer in the advertisement be completly sure that it can deliver in whatever claims you make. If you disappoint the consumer on this key aspect your product is dead in the water and your product will NEVER again gain the consumers trust again. A brand is a trustmark.
    Now against these Oglivy parameters it is difficult to comprehend Moerdyks assertion that the Zuma brand backed by the ANC promise is successful. Over 15 years the ANC's promise of a better life for all has not delivered - and the Zuma brand is yet to tangibly deliver on its loudly broadcast promises. Nothing, nothing has changed for the "consumer" of the advertised product in 100 days. So as in the past let's not confuse the brand message with product delivery Mr. Moerdyk. In fact this could be a case for ASA whereby the ANC and Zuma promise and claims appear to false and misleading the consumer. And there are so many examples of consumer dissatisfaction with the product.

  • Prior - 2009-08-17 13:20

    People who work hard make mistakes. People who work less make fewer mistakes. Some people don't make any mistakes at all.

  • Henry Two - 2009-08-17 13:27

    Agree Chris Moerdyk in this column has said little. In addition the Zuma brand is so sullied and bagagged that it will be difficult to take the (over)claims seriously. Not in 100 days or 1 000 years. The bottom line is how can you trust the Zuma brand?

  • Dave - 2009-08-17 13:31

    Zuma has been mighty impressive so far.

  • JZee - 2009-08-17 13:42

    @Prior......I'm struggling to get your point!

  • Nature - 2009-08-17 13:44

    Zapiro cannot fool me, the only reason why he keeps on "pretending' that the shower will disappear for good should JZ fulfil his campaign promises, is that he is smelling a very bad court decision against him, like the UK newspaper was ordered to pay for libel and defaming JZ. So with or without the shower hanging, JZ does not need any approval from him, Id say he must put the shower where it was before, because his cartoons have indeed expired, and few find humour in them.

  • @Pop Idol From Claire. - 2009-08-17 14:18

    LOL!!! I hear you! Good comment. Thank goodness for Trevor Manual then.

  • so what - 2009-08-17 14:36

    Sorry, don't trust the brand.

  • MikeF - 2009-08-17 15:27

    President JZ is making all the right noises, & all the right appointments to ensure that he never appears in court ever again. His pronouncements on coming down hard on corrupt government officials & public servants will always carry the parole released Schabir Shaik ball & chain with it.

  • simon - 2009-08-17 16:15

    What about the 500 000 jobs that were to have been created? Yes yes yes we all know there is this recession, but the promise was made with full knowledge of the recession.
    So far it is all "talk the talk", which he is clearly good at. I see little actal "walk the talk", so I cannot agree with this biased article.

  • Caire - 2009-08-17 16:54

    This is shocking (taken out of a news 24 article). and just as we were saying he was doing well... Quote :He added(Zuma)""We have recognised that in order to move forward decisively with the land redistribution programme, significant changes will have to be made." ...
    : "The general view is that the willing-buyer willing seller model does not work. We will be seeking a much more pragmatic formula to land redistribution." Now, my rating of this man is diminishing.

  • AMB - 2009-08-18 01:18

    Chris, I don't understand your article. You start off saying that you promised to look at zuma's election promises 100 days into the job. Yet, 100 days are here and you conclude that it's still too soon to tell if brand zuma is keeping his promises. What is the point of this article? Are you going to give him ANOTHER 100 days to start delivering so that you can then find something positive to write? I can guarantee that you can give him as many "100 days" and he still won't deliver so don't hold your breathe.

  • Robert - 2009-08-18 07:27

    I tend to agree with Prior... :P
    Then again, in all fairness it really is early days. But I see no change... for better or worse and don't really expect any.

  • Beemer - 2009-08-18 08:29

    I am anti Zuma who was really confident that JZ was not gonna make it but so far the man has really proven me wrong, he has done an excellent job....but my only biggest worry is he seem to be following what former captain did, Mbeki was appointing Xhosa's in top positions and Zuma seem to be doing that with the Zulu's..yet we talk of diversity in companies but not practising it in our govt. And our education system really ned much attention as it is currently failing our youths..Thanks to Naledi

  • Allan - 2009-08-18 10:28

    You may be totally or partially correct. What is great is reading a column which is positive. Thank you very much.

  • Kosie - 2009-08-18 10:35

    Once a Moron, always a moron!

  • GM - 2009-08-18 12:18

    He hasnt done anything, thats why you cant pick any mistakes. Hes only doing the obvious(business as usual) and that is flowing with the mob.The moment he starts moving from comforts and make impactfull decisions, is when we can begin measuring his good and bad.I cant be fooled by a dodgy president.

  • Barry - 2009-08-18 13:46

    it's early days yet, but let's give Zuma a chance, ahae certainly is aboyt 50% on track, and lets be reasonable. He set himself an almost impossible target. I think he might just get it right but he needs to do something about blockhead Malema interfering

  • Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Mhlanganyelwa Zuma is doing a tremondous job, far more than what his ditractors expected and wished him to do. - 2009-08-18 15:43

    Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Mhlanganyelwa Zuma is doing a tremondous job, far more than what his ditractors expected and wished him to do. He knows how we suffering on the ground, South Africa has never had a President of his caliber before and after Mandela. The whole country is satisfied with his work. His ditractors are seeing that he is doing a tremondous work but denial is the order of the day in their hearts and minds including the ones who r dropping these news24 comments. If the ANC continues to produce leaders of Zuma`s caliber, the ANC will rule this country till Jesus comes back. Opposition parties have agreed to come together so as to fight the ANC under the Zuma stewardship and that is very stupid. The poeple of South Africa are not interested in a that is formed to fight the ANC but they are hungry for the service delivery and not who fights the ANC better. Even if they can come together they will never stop the ANC under this leadership. Probably, if the ANC was being led by one of these Micky Mouse organisation`s leaders who are to come together soon, it wouldn`t stand the heat. However these micky mouse organisations must try but I must assure them they will never manage to remove the AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS.

  • Martin M - 2009-08-19 18:38

    Presedent Zuma is so far doing good, he is working hard to address the poor and he is clesing the race gab that has been our challange for so many years, let us give this man a chance there is hope

  • Seemore - 2009-08-23 11:45

    President Zuma is doing a good job, he needs our support as South Africans. Please lets give him our support.

  • Isa - 2009-08-23 11:49

    Keep it up Mr President!Mr President is doing a great job.

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