If DA leader Mmusi Maimane suddenly started tweeting in the same way as EFF leader Julius Malema does, he would be taken to task, writes Howard Feldman.
Much has been said of the marketing campaigns of main three
parties that contested the South African 2019 elections. Although there are
multiple factors that influence the results, there is little doubt that the
campaigns of each of these parties had a major impact.
The ANC ran a campaign that was designed to separate the
tainted ANC as a party from the confidence inspiring Cyril Ramaphosa – a smart
and strategic move. The EFF continued to push the boundaries of acceptability,
thereby appealing to the dissatisfied ANC voter and the DA played it safe.
I am often asked how to measure a successful marketing
campaign. Obviously, one could set a base line and note a tangible increase in
sales, voters, or in market penetration. More often than not, however, it is
far from that simple and many parts of the campaign, and the success remain
obscured. Worse, is that many organisations, in the need to avoid facing honest
assessment, will look at other factors as a reason for failure.
This weekend, I had an experience that might assist in
understanding this a little better.
Our rescue cat Archie who is five months old, went missing.
We looked everywhere but sadly, no one had seen him since Thursday afternoon.
By Saturday our children were distraught, and I was trying to keep it all
together. To make things worse, was the fact that my wife is in the USA for a family
function and I had been in hospital on a drip with the worst bug I have
experienced. To add to this, I am a notorious hypochondriac. All this meant
that “keeping it together”, whilst normally not such a challenge, was
not so simple at all.
I knew that I had no choice but to find the cat, even if
slightly unconventional methods were to be employed. Unless the cat was dead, I
was going to find it.
Fortunately, like many, we have a neighbourhood group, which
although I curse it from time to time, seemed the logical place to raise
The message I sent was as follows:
Good evening all. Our
ginger cat (Archie) has disappeared. He does tend to walk about and very rarely
leaves a note or message of any sort. He has not returned since Thursday and
though I honestly couldn’t care pretty much either way, the kids seem to be
taking his disappearance seriously. I am not setting up a prayer group… so
don’t stress… but if you have seen him, please tell him we would like a word.
Or call me so that we can get him back. Thanks. Howard Feldman
My children were furious. They considered my message to be callous
and uncaring. I was plain and simply insensitive. How dare I write something humorous
about such a serious topic?
In response, and whilst we waited to see what the response
would be, I asked them to answer the following:
How do we
make sure that the message is read?
How do we
get as many people as possible to see the message?
I explained that whereas I clearly didn’t want to appear more
eccentric than necessary to our neighbours, as long as I stay within the range
of their expectation, that I am unlikely to do damage to my “brand”
as a neighbour.
I have no idea if the explanation worked, because halfway
through the discussion, I received a text from someone on the group saying, “Your
message was so funny that I read it to the family. My father in law is visiting
us and he remembered seeing a message on another list (he is not ours) about
someone having found a ginger cat.” He sent the contact the details and it
so happened that they had found the cat.
As a result, Archie is now home. (And has since been
The reason that he read the message out loud was because it
was funny, because it pushed boundaries and was slightly shocking.
The marketing lessons learned from this are as follows:
Define the objective
Understand the best way to achieve it
Stay within the confines of the brand
In the case of the three political parties, it is worth
emphasising the brand aspect. If DA leader Mmusi Maimane suddenly started
tweeting in the same way as EFF leader Julius Malema does, he would be taken to
task – just as Helen Zille is when she tweets something “outrageous”.
But that doesn’t mean that boundaries shouldn’t be pushed in order to achieve
Effective marketing requires courage. Your kids, and Archie,
will thank you for it.
– Howard Feldman is a keynote speaker and analyst. He is the author of three books and is the morning talk show host on ChaiFM.
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