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07 February 2011

Less than you can imagine

There has been the usual brief kafuffle about the expensive process by which an unoriginal and uninspiring new slogan was chosen for marketing South Africa as a brand.

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There has been the usual brief kafuffle about the extraordinarily expensive process by which an unoriginal and uninspiring new slogan was chosen for marketing South Africa as a brand.

After "More than you Imagine" was announced, an entirely underwhelmed press pointed out that it was needlessly costly and already used by many around the world.

That includes a popular clothes store in Houston, Texas, the American State of Maryland, the Scottish county of Clackmannanshire, and others. It required only an entirely free and rapid Google search to find that out.

It seems to be the name of a song used in True Blood. And it has been used to promote the exotic land of New Caledonia; Little Rock, Arkansas; Prince George, British Columbia; the Ilicos region of the Philippines; and even Portugal and Abu Dhabi. Apparently it's also used to promote the Korcula region of Croatia, with the co-slogan (and I quote directly from their web-site) : "travel trough whole world than come and enjoy in Croatia".

The International Marketing Council of South Africa (IMC).had put out a R 140 million tender including the task of creating a new slogan to market our country to tourists and investors. The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) issued a statement insisting that the cost of developing the slogan had been R470 000, not R140-million as implied in media reports. Such a bargain!

The IMC presented the campaign slogan to the cabinet late last year, and  "the R140-million refers to the entire brand programmes, both domestic and international, of the IMC over a two-year period 2011/2012,"  the GCIS said. "None of this R140-million has been used for the development of the country position statement." following a "rigorous consultation and research process." 

OK, I wasn't consulted, nor was anyone I know, but then nobody ever consults us about anything. But at such a high cost (especially considering that they apparently failed to do even a cursory web search) I'd like to know what consultations and research was done which cost so much.

Apparently the IMC is now still busy "assessing the impact of the use of the slogan by other parties".  Why now, rather than before wasting Cabinet's time with an unexplored proposal? It will report on this later, presumably after someone in the IMC has learned how to use the internet. Due, surely, only to the media picking up on this silly proposal, we are re-assured that it has been decided to "hold off any use of the slogan until the matter had been resolved." Whew!  

The most fascinating part of the statement of the GCIS was: "Government is aware there has been limited use of the 'More than you imagine' slogan in some promotions and presentations, but to date no country or nation has used or registered this as a global country brand positioning line in a global campaign."

This bit is fascinating - apparently the IMC would consider any slogan fair game so long as it hasn't yet been used by any other nation for global country branding. This opens vast new worlds of possibilities for slogans used for any other purpose. And of course it overlooks the use of the phrase in promoting the nations of New Caledonia, Portugal and Abu Dhabi.

Enticing alternative slogans

OK, maybe "Mum Remembered Melrose" won't quite do, though no other nation has used it globally so far.

I am told, for instance, that the slogan of South African Airways is "10 times a day, 7 days a week, both ways".  But this might be mistaken for sexual advice.

But there are so many other exciting possibilities, none of them yet used for branding nations (ah, remember the good old days, when branding was something unpleasant done to a cow or horse with a red-hot iron?)

The US Army used: "Be all that you can be". Contrary to rumour, that phrase about "tour the world , meet interesting foreign people ... and kill them" was never in official use. The hamburger chain Burger King had "Have it Your way", but confident local gigolos and government spokesmen might prefer that chain's earlier slogan : "Home of the Whopper".

How about the one from Club Med: "The antidote for civilization"? 

There's even a website (at thesurrealist.co.uk) that generates random slogans, and it came up with better ones in a few attempts (and I'm not kidding!) .

  • Nothing Works Better Than a South Africa  
  • Maybe She's Born With It, maybe It's South Africa (I love that one!)
  • Come To South Africa and Let's Get It Done (but maybe that's to reminiscent of the Dewani case controversy? When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get South Africa  
  • I Can't Believe It's Not South Africa
  • My Goodness, My South Africa!
  • 8 out of 10 owners who expressed a preference, said their cats preferred South Africa 
  • I Feel Like South Africa Tonight
  • Do You, uh, South Africa?
  • Don't Forget the South Africa, Mum! 
  • Where Do You Want South Africa to Go Today? 
  • South Africa, Take Me Away     
  • Because I'm Worth South Africa
  • It's That South Africa Feeling
  • A Day Without South Africa Is a Day Without Sunshine".

And remember, there are more original, free, and generated randomly online in seconds. Just promise me the IMC won't get paid for these!

And for the IMC itself, what about the slogan for a popular snack, "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't."

(Professor M.A. Simpson, Health24, February 2011)

 
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