SA Tourism shackles itself to brand Trump

2013-03-13 14:20
Donald Trump, the chairperson and President of the Trump Organisation. (File, AFP)

Donald Trump, the chairperson and President of the Trump Organisation. (File, AFP)

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Chicago - The next season of The Apprentice hit US TV screens last week and one of its branding partners (in a show which says it "[revolutionises] brand integration on television") is the South African Tourism Board.
As you likely know, however, the show is co-produced and hosted by Donald Trump, a notoriously and intentionally controversial presence in the USA, who has upped the ante in the last few years, particularly in what he has to say about domestic politics and trade policy.  Plus the odd personal smear.
Indeed, SA Tourism has decided to jump on the bandwagon of a man who has repeatedly disputed where President Barack Obama was born (in spite of Obama releasing his birth certificate). The intention of this is to ascertain whether he is eligible to be president or not.

Weirdly, however, Trump has only made this request of the brown-skinned president with the funny name, even though neither former presidents Bill Clinton's or George HW Bush's birth certificates have been made public. Trump has also previously inferred that Obama only made it into Colombia University and Harvard because of affirmative action – that is, because he is black. He has also speculated that Obama's academic results might have been too low for entry, with absolutely no proof whatsoever.

Editor of The New Yorker David Remnick summed it up beautifully: "To do what Trump has done (and he is only the latest and loudest and most spectacularly hirsute) is a conscious form of race-baiting, of fear-mongering. And if that makes Donald Trump proud, then what does that say for him? Perhaps now he will go away, satisfied that this passage has sufficiently restored his fame quotient and television ratings. The shame is that there are still many more around who, in the name of truth-telling, are prepared to pump the atmosphere full of poison."

Speaking out of both sides

Scepticism – with no proof whatsoever – of the president's citizenship is a popular theory within the lunatic fringe of the conservative portion of the country. And in October, to try and humiliate the president, Trump announced that he was going to donate $5m to charity, but only if Obama released documentation detailing where he denoted his place of birth his college applications. Using folks who rely on charity as some sort of negotiating pawn must really make Mr Trump and all his fans feel great.
Trump also rails against China to remain in the public eye, and accuses it of stealing American jobs. In fact in April 2011 he went so far as to say China was "raping" the USA by keeping its currency artificially low – thereby keeping prices of its exports low, "[making] it almost impossible for American companies to compete".

On this particular topic he isn't alone: China is one of the most common punching bags amongst US politicians. Trump, however, is speaking out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to the world’s number two economy. His successful line of ties sold at famous department store chain Macy’s is made in China. According to, this line of ties is accompanied by other China-manufactured items and garments including cuff links, dress shirts, and the packaging in which in which they are sold.
There's also the immense amount of disparaging nonsense that accompanies Trump's political utterances. How about when he said on Twitter in August last year, "[Ariana Huffington] is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man- he made a good decision."
After the most recent general election in November, Trump against went ballistic on Twitter when he disappointedly learned that the same non-citizen affirmative-action candidate Barack Obama had been re-elected. "This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!" was followed by "More votes equals a loss – revolution!" and later, "[Obama] lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!"

SA tourism board mum

 Incidentally, he deleted some of the most incendiary tweets, and by enunciating his disgust so early on, didn’t seem to know that Romney was always going to be ahead until the west coast, virtually blanket Democrat, had its vote counted properly.
There was also this pearl: "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive." Now, while I will fully admit there is debate to be had about global warming/climate change, this is not one of the more realistic possibilities.
Despite numerous attempts News24 couldn't get any sort of comment from the South African Tourism Board about why it chose to throw its lot in with such an offensive personality.
My concern about a South African government organisation having a relationship with Trump was spurred by activist Angelo Carusone, a native New Yorker, who has spent the last few months trying to get famous department store chain Macy's to stop stocking Trump's merchandise. Carusone isn't inexperienced in this field. His StopBeck campaign against former Fox News host Glenn Beck, and the absurd views thrown around on his show, was a part of why Beck is no longer on the channel. Carusone, however, has been such an evident thorn in the side of Trump through his efforts at Macy's that Trump threatened to sue him for $25m. Currently, Carusone has nearly 700 000 signatures on a petition to "Urge Macy's To Dump Donald Trump".

What is Trump's brand?

So why did he pick this fight with Trump? In an interview with News24, Carusone said, "The flash point was right at the end of October: He used charity as a weapon. He got up there and he said 'if the president doesn't release a bunch of these documents that I am just randomly going to demand… I have $5m I could give to charity, but if he doesn't do it I am not giving it away'."
A letter from Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren to Trump in August also fired up Carusone, in which Lundgren said in the post-script, "Don't give up the real estate business yet but we are developing a meaningful fashion business with your brand!"
"What is Donald Trump's brand?" said Carusone, "Donald Trump’s brand is bullying, and chicanery. That's what his brand is."
"It's not as though Trump is out there just casually making commentary about politics and culture. It's all a part of how he promotes himself. He is now promoting himself through the extremist, sensational perspective… that's how he is promoting himself now, and the vehicle [through] which he gets all of this free media.”
"This is what happens when the bulk of your public relations strategy relies on simply going out there and saying the most irresponsible or despicable or nasty things solely to get press attention so that you can commercialise it."
And along with Macy's, South African Tourism is going to be riding those same coat tails. Next time you hear Donald Trump say something ridiculous or purposefully offensive, remember that his publicity is now South Africa's publicity.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  us

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