Mission Creep

One of my bugbears in life is the compulsion that companies have to sum up their reason for being in a snappy one-liner. And yet they seldom do. There’s lots of “achieving excellence” and quality but very little substance you can tie them to.

Sadly this urge to mission-state (how’s that for a bit of jargon fresh off the press?) has reached South Africa where one of the local cab companies wants you to “be safe, sure and satisfied”, which sounds more suited to a brand of condom.

And it’s a bit of a joke because usually they don’t turn up and if they do, the driver has no idea where he’s going. We went into the city to collect our hire car today and even though we gave the driver the address, showed him where we were going on a map and told him the nearest landmark was St Stephen’s Church, we still ended up miles away and he had to stop at a garage to find out where he was.

But back to my theme, the local BMW dealer claims that it is “Striving to serve the Successful for another 30 years”. If you break that down, to strive means to try really, really hard which suggests they haven’t actually managed it yet which is a pretty poor after three decades and the Successful have at least three more to look forward to.

As ever though, it is government that is the worst culprit. The Cape Times reported yesterday that the International Marketing Council had got cabinet approval for a new slogan to market the country at home and abroad.

The original “Alive with possibilities is to be replaced by “More than you imagine which former spokesman, Themba Maseko, says is needed to “take the country brand to a different level”. What level he meant this to be isn’t reported.

Sadly, the “More than  you imagine” slogan isn’t particularly original. It has been used by Portugal, the US state of Maryland, Clackmannanshire in Scotland, a vocational training business in Australia and an award winning ad-campaign in the US.

The newly appointed spokesman, Jimmy Manyi, said: “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.”

The media is indignant and self-righteous about the cost of this great step change in marketing the country — R140 million which equates to a little under £12 million or $19 million — but the government points out that this is the total budget for the next two years.

The creative cost for the slogan was a mere R470,000, or £10,000 per word. So that’s all right then.

I’ve set myself the job of coming up with my own slogan that is succinct, original and neatly sums up the country: “South Africa — bloody marvellous“.

Or how about: “Striving for excellence in quality and innovation in being the southern most bit of Africa for another 80,000 years.

Maybe not.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

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