KFC makes a meal of it but Maroon 5’s Three Little Words give me ad indigestion

One of the things to be thankful for about the FIFA Football World Cup 2018 (Trade Mark registered) is that it was not held here…if only for the fact we wouldn’t have to put up with God-awful Budweiser beer. Nevertheless, we were pounded by all of those international ads…even for products we can’t get here (like some Hyundai SUVs promoted by pop group Maroon 5) or which are, thankfully, not mainstream, (like Budweiser).

Most of the ads washed over me like lukewarm dishwater because, when you make an ad for such a wide audience, bland tends to be your watchword.

One ad did stick out, though, because it speaks right to the heart of one of the major problems with professional football these days…and that is that theatrics which accompany almost every foul, tough tackle and so-called injury.

Brazilian superstar Neymar was, far and way, the Oscar winner for his performances in this sector, but there were plenty of others whose antics would have you believe that playing football is about as dangerous as charging into machinegun fire on the battlefield.

KFC, one of the sponsors of the football epic, capitalised on this by showing a not-so-over-the-top dive on the pitch (compared to the ones which took place in real life, that is), followed by an agonising roll. It starts off no different from plenty we saw in the tournament. But then, it goes on and on. As fans and TV crews chase the player’s agonised writhings, he keeps spinning over and over…out of the stadium, into the surrounding city. On and on until finally, he rolls into a KFC outlet.

Suddenly, he is cured. He has “made a meal of it” – both on the pitch and off.
And that slogan – “Make a meal of it” – was the hashtag for fans to communicate with KFC every time they saw some outrageous diving and players making a meal of it in their over-acting.

It’s humorous, it speaks to phenomenon everyone has been talking about, and it works to emphasise how far you would go to get the great taste of KFC.
So it gets an Orchid from me.

The Onion for World Cup ads, though, must go to Hyundai and Maroon 5. It’s not that I don’t like the product, or that the ad doesn’t accurately showcase features of the company’s product. The problem is not just that we can’t get those products yet in SA…but it is the fact that, repeated over and over, ad nauseum, Maroon 5’s song, Three Little Birds (Everything’s gonna be alright…) eventually becomes painful, like having a tooth drilled.

maroon

For violating one of the Golden Rules of advertising – don’t push anything past its natural pain threshold or sell-by date – Hyundai gets an Onion.

We have, in this country, a group of superheroes, the mere appearance of whom will cure all of our ills. They are called politicians…and at least they seem to believe that seeing their attractive (not) mugs on newspaper ads, on TV and on roadside billboards, will sort out everything from AIDS to poor school results.

Doesn’t appear to be working, people, at least going by the popularity of our new national symbols – the barricade and the burning tyre…

Yet perhaps the most pathetic one I have seen was down in KwaZulu-Natal recently – and may I preface this was saying in all humility (in case His Majesty is listening), I have nothing against Zulus: They are by far the most interesting people who have threatened to kill me.

On a number of the byways I love to take when I am down in The Kingdom, I saw repeated pictures of one Willies Mchunu, who is now Premier, but was once MEC for Transport. These images were adorning posters urging people to think about road safety.

Point one: using a poster on the side of a road (which can easily cause a driver to be distracted from the job at hand) to promote road safety is not too clever. One would have thought that Mchunu, in his previous life of MEC for Transport, might have realised this. Never mind that these posters have clearly not been checked or replaced in the two or more years since he left the portfolio.

Point two: What on earth does your face have to do with road safety? I am so sick and tired of the cult of ego among our politicians. It proves one thing with crystal clarity: public office is all about the politician and not the people.

Yet another Onion.

Imagine that money being spent on doing some actual good. To quote John Lennon: You may say I’m a dreamer…

Cross-cultural confusion makes for a funny ad. But PR confusion makes Jack an unhappy editor…

It doesn’t take a lot to make South Africans angry … and facts, especially, are not needed when there is an angry argument to be made on social media. So, for example, there were those on Twitter last week bemoaning the fact that Africa had, again, not made it to the Last 16 of a World Cup. Must be racism, they cried …

Dear, oh dear.

With that in mind, and considering this angry divided country of ours today, it takes a brave company, or brand, to tackle some of our cultural issues in a roundabout, even humorous way.

There is so much danger there in offending those who don’t share your sense of humour. And those you offend are also those who are unlikely to buy your product.

On the other hand, one thing we still do have as a nation is a collective sense of humour. And, we can – most of us anyway – still laugh at ourselves.

King Price Insurance has shown it is not afraid to use culture and humour … and it has done so effectively, because its advertisements often “go viral”, being spread around the internet.

The last one – of an Afrikaans-speaking boer who cuddles up to his farming equipment because the doctor suggested he do “sexy things to a tractor …” – went far and wide.

The follow-up is already popping up on social media and being forwarded by e-mail and now King Price have aired it on TV, too, so it’s bound to get a lot of eyeballs. And, I think, also chuckles.

We see a well-dressed Cherman trundling through the countryside to the love of his life, Thandi. She greets him rapturously at the door to the family home and our intrepid suitor beams in a way most of his countrymen would have been doing, had they stayed in the World Cup.

Then, Thandi’s stern-faced father appears at the door. Don’t worry, says the earnest young Teuton, I have come to declare my “luff” for your daughter. I want to marry her and I have brought the lobola. He produces a box containing a kettle, and then, beaming, points out that the father wanted “50 kettles” as lobola for Thandi … and there they all are in the back of the bakkie.

Fifty kettles? That’s probably what the father said, and what the German heard. Cultural misunderstanding … cattle, not kettles, is what the old man wants.

It’s a typical South African, not-listening, talking-past-each-other, moment. But it’s funny and it has a simple innocence about it.

 

Still, it could offend somebody in this easily-offended world of ours. But the humour and the bravery are what make this advertisement stand out. So another Orchid to King Price.

There is nothing guaranteed to rile an egotistical journalist more than getting his or her name wrong than to waste their time, or clutter up their e-mail and voicemail inboxes, with totally inappropriate press releases.

Public relations rule number one: understand your target market. Do not send someone like me (who writes about media and cars and runs a news operation) material more suitable for an engineering or fashion magazine. Yet, that is what happened recently.

First up was a release from Paddington Station PR agency about “Beetroot Inc” and its “beautiful lifestyle furniture and home décor items”. With tears in my eyes, people, NO! I am not interested in your scatter cushions. Why are you sending this to me and not to the appropriate person? By addressing me by name, at the correct address, you must surely have my title? That being the case, do you think  I am the Interior Decor Correspondent? Remember, you want my publication to give your clients publicity and you expect me to correct your lack of professionalism? I don’t think so.

Onion to Paddington Station.

Next was a release from Gugulethu Ndlovu at nGage, addressed to me personally, not just some arbitrary “editor”.

It started: “The complex core geometry at the Katherine Towers project in Sandton saw PERI South Africa deploy its RCS-CL (Rail Climbing System Carriage Light) to reduce crane time and maximise platform sizes for the complex core geometry. Please find attached a press release detailing the complete solution supplied to realise this challenging and intricate structure.”

Do I look like I edit Engineering NewsArchitectural Digest? Big Cranes Weekly? More bad PR. Another Onion. Do some research please, nGage …

And this tailpiece is not really an Onion, just a reflection on perhaps the most bizarre “house advertisement” in the history of newspapers in this country.

Afrovoice-last

This advertisement appeared in Afrovoice newspaper on Friday championing Afrotone Holdings, the vehicle businessman Mzwanele Manyi used to buy the Guptas’ media interests, including the TV channel formerly known as ANN7 and now as Afro Worldview and the newspaper formerly called The New Age.

Quite ironic to be boasting about having 500 employees when, for many of them it would be their last day, as the newspaper closed down on Friday.

Fly, the beloved country… high above the “vapour research”

These days, when you leave the toxic atmosphere of Twitter (and I am forced to lurk there as part of a my job as a newsman), you feel as though you should have a chemical decontamination shower, so vile is some of the anger and hatred.

There seem to be so many on this social media channel who believe that the whole “Miracle” of 1994 and the idea of the “Rainbow Nation” was all a lie. Further, Nelson Mandela was a sell-out because he bowed down to white people and “Big Business”…

Exposed to so much of this line of reasoning does make me acknowledge that perhaps we (all of us) were too naïve in our acceptance that 300 years of history could be re-written by one man and one election. When I look back on those times, I sometimes cringe to see the sentiments – the lofty but unrealistic ones – being expressed by people. It’s rather like looking back at the 70s and platform shoes …“What were they thinking?”

And nothing sums up that rose-tinted era quite as much as the triumph in the World Cup Rugby final at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg in 1995, where Joel Stransky’s sublime drop-goal made us World Champions, triumphing 15-12 over the All Blacks.
There was Madiba, Francois Pienaar and the Webb Ellis Trophy. There were the strains of “Shosholoza” echoing around the stadium, as well as those of the strange, new, hybrid national anthem.
Then there were the multicoloured, joyful crowds in the streets afterwards, all overwhelmingly proud to be South Africans, united by a pride which went beyond skin colour.

But it was the goose bump-inducing flight by a massive South African Airways Boeing 747 jumbo jet, low over Ellis Park, which announced the world we were a “can do” nation. Nobody else had done – or possibly even could do – such a daring, and potentially disastrous, piece of stunt flying.

The man flying the plane was veteran SAA pilot Laurie Kay and, as people close to him said later, it was as though his whole life in planes – from passenger jets to aerobatic prop-driven craft – was leading up to this.

MTN’s new “Sounds the Call” ad wonderfully evokes those times, with a clever blend of actual footage, set-up scenes using actors and some computer-manipulated imagery to pay tribute to Laurie Kay – who passed away some years ago – but also to rekindle national pride. As a sponsor of the Springboks, the cell provider has, like fellow sponsor FNB, focused on the intangibles of emotion to underline its contribution to nation-building.

Now, I suppose one could be cynical about this sort of patriotism, but it works for me. It’s a reminder of what we once were and, through rose-tinted optimism glasses, what we might be again…

So Orchids to MTN, ad agency TBWA and Darling films.

Research Rubbish – Chapter 2
A few weeks ago, I got a breathless release from Reputation Matters, a PR outfit in Tshwane, about how that City had been “voted” best African capital in terms of “sustainability”.

According to Reputation Matters, the firm had surveyed “15 African capitals” ahead of Sustainability Week held in Pretoria. When pressed by my cynical questions (because I am very wary of “vapour” research), Reputation Matters provided the list of these 15 African capitals.

The list has shrunk to just 14 places – including Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Rustenburg, nogal. There – now you know…Rustenburg is an African capital city.

Even worse was to come, though.
Reputation Matters said it had 76 responses to its survey, 80% of which came from South African cities, with Cape Town topping the list at 43%, followed by Tshwane at 27% and Joburg at 8%.
If that’s a survey, then I’m a rabbi…

A research expert friend of mine (in my survey of experts across the continent – if you can do it so can I) shook her head in disbelief (at least that’s what it felt like down the email line). Her company does serious research and, without quantifying who was asked what, invoking “African capitals” when there were more responses from SA cities, as well as the absence of judging criteria, was, in her view, not proper research. Nor was it well-written, “even as a media release…” she wrote.

That last comment sums up how professionals in business – and note, not just cynical old journalists – take with a pinch of salt this sort of fantasy.
Sadly, there are many in the media industry who will look at this as genuine, simply because it is flagged as “research” or a “survey”.

So to Reputation Matters, the second of our Fake News Onions (the first was last week). One day someone will see through the nonsense…and how sustainable will you then be?

 

 

 

 

 

The boozy road not taken…and lies, damned lies and surveys

Hangovers, they say, are God’s way of telling you to lay off the booze. And, anyone who has had one will know the “why did I do it?” feeling of remorse.

Alcohol has changed so many lives in so many ways – yet humankind still seems to love the bottle. Trying to get people to approach alcohol in a more sensible way – to save our country the billions it costs us annually, in everything from car accidents and domestic violence to the effects of foetal alcohol syndrome – is clearly not a message which is getting through.

The new campaign along these lines from non-profit organisation Aware.org, (Association for Alcohol Responsibility and Education) takes a different angle. Different in the sense that it doesn’t wag fingers or show images (however censored) of bodies and the sort of carnage boozing can cause.

It’s all about “the road not taken”…and in this case, the road not taken is the easy one to booze addiction.

So we see the same man in two different scenarios, but at the same time, thanks to the use of clever image effects. A man able to look at himself from outside.

And what he sees is not good: from life and soul of the party which the booze triggers; to fighting, insulting and being thrown out of the club by the bouncers. It’s a clear look at the sleazy side of what “just a little drink…” can turn into.

We then see him heading home – in a taxi, not driving himself in his inebriated state.
He arrives at his house to a warm and stable family home – loving wife and, asleep in her bedroom, their beautiful daughter. There is contest as to which is the more appealing road taken.

The punchline – Drink like there is a tomorrow – is apt, and memorable.

Orchids to Aware.org, ad agency Riverbed and director Gordon Lindsay of Braille Films for your message of hope out of despair.

Best way to hood wink a journalist? Send them a press release based on a “survey”.

That sounds like science and very few journalists will question you, as a clever PR company, if you do that. Even better, use percentages – because you know they won’t have a clue.

That’s exactly what an outfit called the deVere Group did last week…and they reeled in the suckers. The company bills itself as “an international financial services organisation”, which should have been the first red flag, because it is a commonly used vague, meaningless generalisation, but which sounds professional.

The company’s release said it had done a “survey” among “high-net-worth individuals” (rich people, to you and me) about their “exposure to cryptocurrencies”. Hardly an unbiased piece of research, given that deVere is in that very business.

The survey included at least 600 of these people spread across South Africa, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, the UAE, Qatar, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Spain, France, and Germany (all solid blue chip nations, at least in common perception).

And, according to the survey “findings”, these people were besotted with cryptocurrencies, to the extent that they believe these are “the future of money”. (Another lovely, meaningless cliché: What money? Where? How?)

But the best part of the release was the bit which eluded journalists: that which said “more than a third” of these people (34%, 35%, 99%, who knows?) said they “either have exposure to cryptocurrencies, or they intend investing by the end of 2018”.

Cue gasps of amazement among journalists and among the numerically illiterate who read it and rushed off to have a look at BitCoin.

Here’s the proper way of looking at this rubbish. Even by their own figures, at least two-thirds (or just over, using a similar logic to them), DO NOT own cryptocurrencies, nor do they have any intention of investing in them by the end of this year.

That means, in reality, that high net worth individuals actually don’t believe in cryptocurrencies…

While the press release may have achieved its aim it getting coverage and in gulling the gullible, ultimately this sort of bullshit damages both the integrity of the PR industry (not exactly at an all-time high considering the shenanigans of Bell Pottinger) but also makes it guilty of distributing fake news.

That will rebound both on a PR company and on a client.
So, today’s fake news Orchid goes to deVere…

 

Nothing beats this Benz…or the hope that sport can one day unite us

It was one of the most talked-about pieces of marketing in quite a few months, the Mercedes-Benz recreation of its famous 1990 TV commercial about how one of its brilliantly engineered cars saved the life of its driver when he crashed 100m down the side of Chapman’s Peak outside Cape Town.

That the man, businessman Christopher White, survived the horror crash was, as the original ad said, due to two things: that he was wearing a seat belt and that he was driving a Mercedes-Benz.

In a similarly astute bit of marketing déjà vu, Merc and its ad agency Net#work BBDO got White to do another ad – repeating the same route, this time in the latest S-Class Mercedes. What they didn’t tell the nervous White, initially at least, was that the car was going to drive him along Chapman’s peak Drive – and not the other way around.
This is because the S-Class is equipped with Merc’s latest “autonomous driving” technology, which effectively meant that most of the drive – and particularly the really hairy part, coming up to the corner where he went off originally – would be a “hands-off” experience for White.

Merc and Net#work BBDO’s documentary – all 5 minutes of it – captures all the elements perfectly and is wonderful entertainment, but all the while emphasising the point that Mercedes-Benz vehicles are “still engineered” to be the best in the world.

I am not sure where this is going to be distilled into a TV ad – it should be because it is great viewing…and I hope those involved do more than putting it out on the Internet and social media.

So, Orchids all round for first-class, hands-on advertising.

It is an interesting irony that one of the founders of Net#work BBDO is Mike Schalit, one of the all-time great creative South African ad people. It was he who was in charge of the creative team at the then Hunt Lascaris who produced another classic local ad in response to the Merc Chapman’s Peak one.
Using a BMW Five Series sedan, Schalit and co filmed it travelling around all the bends on Chapman’s at speed – and not going off over the cliff. The point: if you were in a Five, you wouldn’t have gone off in the first place. They called it “Beats the Bends” – and the ad only flighted for three nights over a weekend, because Hunts correctly predicted Mercedes would object and the ad would be pulled by the Advertising Standards Authority…as it was.

The other interesting point about the latest ad is that, in this country particularly, autonomous driving is a long way from becoming a reality. Much of the technology relies – as it did in taking White around Chapman’s Peak – on clear road markings and signs. These you will find on Chapman’s Peak because it is now a toll road. You won’t find this everywhere else in this country, where the opposite is often the norm.
So, in reality, to try to sell a car in South Africa based on its autonomous driving capabilities is actually reckless. At least Mercedes-Benz are not doing that…

The amazing Test between the Boks and England was not only great entertainment but a fairy tale debut for the first African Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi. It was an appropriate moment to reflect on how far we have come, in a sporting sense, as a nation. (Probably not far enough, in the eyes of people like Ashwin Willemse, but that is another issue).

FNB, as a sponsor of Springbok rugby, has put up a lot of money (and a lot into airing costs, too) for an ad which reminds us about grassroots rugby, and how talent is lying there, waiting to be unearthed, if only given the opportunity. Talent like Ashwin Willemse…

The ad is a bit cheesy, but its heart is in the right place, so it gets a second Orchid, for FNB and Grid Worldwide, as well as director Greg Grey.

Perhaps, one day, sport will unite us…

Sanral bravely tackles the long road back from reputation damage…but perhaps too much glory for Ocean Basket?

As far as government agencies or parastatals that we “love to hate” go, the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) is right up there with Eskom.

The roads agency, it must said from the outset, plays a critical role in the South African economy, designing and building what is still the best highway infrastructure in Africa…the sort of image which is used regularly to set us apart from the rest of the continent.

Yet, Sanral has such a bad public image that the mere name has almost become a swear word.

And that is, as we all know, because of the contentious e-toll project in Gauteng…or, more correctly, from the way the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project was implemented – which millions of road users believe disregarded them.

In the process, the boycott of toll payments has become the biggest single mass defiance campaign in the history of a democratic South Africa.

Most of the damage to Sanral’s image was done by one man, someone you might call the Donald Trump of the civil engineering sector, Nazir Alli, the former CEO of Sanral.

In blustering, dictatorial and often inaccurate tirades, Alli tried to force the concept of electronic toll collection down the throats of the public. And that did not go down well with motorists, whose level of ignorance about the scheme was such that they believed they were being hoodwinked. Marketing Mistake Number One: bad communication.

It didn’t help, of course, that the final cost of the project saw the country saddled with some of the most expensive roads in the world. It didn’t help either that some of the “experts” trotted out by Sanral to justify tolling were guilty of misleading the public.

Now that Alli has left Sanral, one can feel the winds of change in the air.

The organisation has completely changed its “do what we say” approach to one of marketing persuasion. It has realised that it needs to “sell” its product to a public which is constantly battered by more and more price increases.

Rather than bombard us with figures as Alli did (in the hopes maths-challenged people wouldn’t see the logical sleight of hand which was his forte), the “new” Sanral is looking at the benefits roads bring us.

The first ad in the series was flighted some time ago, and focused on the joy in an ordinary family, coming together from all over the country for a celebration. Connecting people via excellent roads. It’s a great ad because it is not only true, it is subtle – as is the best of marketing – and shows Sanral for what it is… a facilitator.

The latest in the series looks at how roads are essential to lving the lives we want. So we see coffee, on its journey from the estate, through roasting to the final, aromatic and deeply satisfying, cup.

Something like 80% or more of our goods are transported by road in this country, so without the efforts of Sanral, our little treats and daily necessities might be more difficult to obtain, or be more expensive.

Elegant point, elegantly made.

Sanral still has a lot to do to redeem itself, especially as e-tolls still has not been resolved – but these ads are an excellent start. They enable us to see the good side of this organisation.

Well done to Sanral and its ad agency, Blueprint. Orchids for your marketing skills…and your bravery.

The problem with using social media for your marketing, as I have said many times, is the danger for any flaws to be magnified and seized upon to actually damage your brand.

Latest in line for that lesson is seafood restaurant chain Ocean Basket, one of my favourite family places.

It generated a bit of a flurry on social media this week when it aired a promotion that many likened to the “glory hole” fad which had its origins in the San Francisco gay bathhouse culture of the ’70s and early ’80s.

Suffice to say that many commentators on social media were reminded of “gloryholes” by Ocean Basket’s hands appearing from holes in a backboard, holding various meals.

Perhaps, as our online colleagues noted on citizen.co.za, the comments were more of a judgment on those making them than on Ocean Basket, but, nevertheless, the comments were there. And they were wholly incompatible with the ethos of a family restaurant.

And Ocean Basket may complain till the cows (or cod) come home that this is a misinterpretation of its message but I ask: Why did anyone not foresee the possibility?

Given the “woke” and raucous nature of social media, you have to be extra careful – and you weren’t.

So you get an Onion.

I only hope it was not intentional…

The future of driving may be Kia…and the future of advertising may be – shock! horror! – digital fraud

 

There are many moments which remain in our memories but, for a petrolhead like me, it will always be the moment I first had control of a car…when I managed to get it moving forward in first gear without stalling and then, because we had a long driveway, a quick change into second gear and braking to a stop.

I guess I have always been fascinated by cars, even before I got behind the wheel of one and the way you can tell I am a true petrolhead is that I will drive anything with wheels – and enjoy it. In my time, I have piloted everything from a Ferrari and a Lamborghini to a Morris Minor and driving has never lost is fascination for me.

In the past few years, the debate about “autonomous driving” has been gathering steam. This envisages a future where electronics, robotics and computers will guide vehicles to their destinations without any human input.
That, to my mind anyway, is like intravenously injecting bags of plastic nutrients into your body when you could be dining on the finest French food.

In this country, thank goodness, autonomous driving is some way off – although some cynics might say a version of it has already arrived because so many vehicles on our roads are not under the control of  human beings…

Interestingly, despite the move towards robotic transport, many motor manufacturers are making more interesting, faster, and more powerful cars aimed at people who love to drive.

That’s why I was drawn to the TV ad for Kia’s new Stinger high-performance sedan.
The car is a radical departure for a brand which has always pitched itself as different – “The Power to Surprise” is its most well-known slogan – because it has been targeted directly at the sporting products from the high-end German manufacturers. And, the motoring journos who’ve tried the car have been astounded at how good it is.

Kia needs to throw a lot of marketing muscle behind the Stinger, though, because the brand is not normally associated with performance. Quality and reliability, yes,…but, up to now, sportiness –  well, not so much.

The challenge has been to convince loyal brand followers to give the Stinger a try.
Around the world, Kia campaigns for the car have focused on its driveability, but, here in South Africa, the brand and its agency, OFYT (Old Friends Young Talent) have managed to put a different, but effective spin on the driving enjoyment aspect.

With the de rigeur shots of the car blasting around a race-track, the ad simply asks one question: What is the future of driving? then it answers it: Maybe the future of driving is actually driving..
It’s a great line, and it sums up the car. I think it will help Kia sell the car in this country, where many of us are not quite prepared to surrender our increasingly guilty pleasures to robots. Not only that, but the ad could have a halo effect for the rest of Kia’s products, which share the same automotive DNA as the Stinger.

So, to Kia South Africa and to OFYT, Orchids for good marketing and for reminding us (not that some of us needed it) that cars are more than just means of transport.

The second biggest criminal enterprise on the planet at the moment – after drugs – is digital advertising. As much as half of all “interactions” in cyberspace come from some form of “bot” – a piece of computer programme which replicates a human. And then there are the “click farms” which, for a modest fee, will drive your product’s, or site’s, all-important numbers into the stratosphere. You can buy shares, likes, users with a few clicks of a mouse. And then you can go and hoodwink the people who are paying you money to use your allegedly enormous numbers as a medium to promote their products.

And that’s without even talking about CTRs (Click Through Rates – or the actual number of times an ad is clicked on), which are generally half a percent or less. In other words, your wonderful digital ad will only be seen by one in every 200 people (or bots).
For me, though, the absurdity of an industry which is doing flick-flacks to convince everyone it is effective, and honest, is the voodoo science around “interactions”.

Excuse me, but I call bullshit on all of it.

Last week, we had experts telling us that the social media and cyberspace debate around the Ashwin Willemse TV walk-off had a “reach” of 3.8 billion. Stupid, uneducated person that I am I asked an expert, Tonya Khoury, how it was possible that around one in two people on the planet were debating something about which, frankly, even the majority of South Africans don’t give a damn.
She explained – as one has to do to an old-fashioned person who still believes the oppressive lie that one and one equals two – that “Reach is the number of outlets & their readership or the number of followers of any tweeter / intagrammer. It doesn’t mean that many people “read” it – it’s the reach of the story. For example #Trump 1 tweet on #Gaza garnered reach of 52M.”

She went on that “some people call it #ImpressionData – I don’t like the term because it gives the impression that the post made an impression :)”

Exactly.
If I assessed our newspaper in the same way, I would say that because we distribute in Gauteng, and Gauteng has a population of 12 million, our reach is 12 million. But then each of those 12 million knows another ten people, so our reach is 120 million. I cannot believe any marketer doesn’t question this.

In the end, Tonya revealed that there were around 150 000 people involved in the “conversation” about Willemse. In others words, one in every 300 people in South Africa.

That’s the reality, not the fanciful dreams of “reach”.

Anyone putting out that garbage gets an Onion from me and any marketer paying the slightest bit of attention to it should explain to his or her company’s shareholders why he’s wasting their cash on listening to bullshit…