Cyril talks the walk for new ANC brand
President Cyril Ramaphosa is shedding the gravy train and fat-cat image of the government - one Sona and healthy walk at a time.
Are his now very public walks just a fad? Only time will tell. Are they working from a PR perspective? Absolutely!
It started last week when a few health-conscious Capetonians spotted the then president-elect and his buddy, Trevor Manuel, on the Sea Point Promenade on a brisk walk. The two comrades were happy to pose for selfies. Those selfies spread like wildfire.
The mornings that followed saw radio presenters get out extra early to catch the president mid-stride for some unique content. They weren’t disappointed.
The Western Cape ANC cottoned on that their president was on to something. This week a widely distributed invitation from the Western Cape ANC landed in my WhatsApp messages. Draped in ANC colours, it read: “President promotes a healthy lifestyle - daily morning walks: Join President Cyril Ramaphosa’s walk from Gugulethu to Sports Complex to Athlone Stadium.”
Here’s the bit that got me running well walking scared: the meeting time is 5.30am! Then you also have to pull off that swag President Ramaphosa has in abundance - in a tracksuit.
It sends out all the right messages. Here’s a president that walks the talk and leads by example, promoting good health in a nation that is prone to hypertension and heart disease.
There’s also that symbolic point of finishing Madiba’s long walk
Welcome to Brand Cyril: the gift that keeps on giving with pay-off lines aplenty. A brand so fast-acting it can alleviate a nine-year headache. A brand with adhesive powers to make MPs behave in the National Assembly. A brand that exercises. Daily.
Brand managers worth their salt should be making a beeline to Brand Cyril, whether sports apparel or whiskey that uses walking as its logo and slogan. He’s so shiny, so savvy, so new-broomy.
There’s room on the market for a whole range of products. Cyril’s Buffalo Wings, the McCyril burger, the Runner-Phosa running shoe.
But the WhatsApp invitation reminded me of a rant of my own about so-called brand ambassadors that clog my timelines on social media. Don’t get me wrong: if you’re Bryan Habana showing off the latest timepiece I’d be inclined to buy. I’d also eat what and where Masterchef winner Kamini Pather eats because she strikes me as cool.
But I see one too many folks with the title “brand ambassador” that have no business promoting that brand. We see you, promoting a brand in exchange for a freebie. They have a bit of a following on social media, a small public platform and they’re ramming the virtues of a new car or the latest golf clubs down our throats. In reality, they know as little about the car as I do and their golfing ability is as limited as, well, mine!
Brand out there: have you tested whether so-called brand ambassador is doing more harm than good with their terrible spelling and questionable use of grammar when promoting your product with poorly written tweets and posts?
Here’s the thing, dear brand (and with thanks to my great group of peers I’ve engaged on this topic): the person promoting your brand needs to be believable. The brand representative needs to bring just the right mix of inspiration and aspiration. I’d love to be endorsed. If I had my way, I’d be driving my dream car or riding the top-of-the-range carbon-fibre road bike - all the while dressed head-to-toe in designer everything.
But in reality, in my dad-ly way, I’d be lucky to be an ambassador for a nappy brand or milk formula. A miracle shampoo to stop balding? I’m your guy!
I think our president has made life difficult for these also-ran brand ambassadors. He has set the bar impossibly high because right now he can walk on water. Try to compete with that, bin-liner product ambassador. Keep walking, because you’re no Cyril.
As my colleague, The Star’s editor, Japhet Ncube, commented about the president’s walks: “Don’t worry. The new boyfriend always buys roses the first few days.”
The Sunday Independent
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