SABC relaxes 'pure language policy'

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Jan 26 17:19:36 UTC 2005

>>From Advertising News (South Africa)

'We should be looking inward, not outward'

"Most South African advertising misses the point," says Jannie Ngwale,
chairman of The Agency, whose passionately held view is that local
advertising is not local enough. He believes it should be unequivocally
afrocentric and embrace the linguistic, cultural and social diversity of
the country.

"We're still fixated by eurocentrism," he says, "and that needs to change.
The South African industry has such a vital role - and responsibility - in
shaping public opinion and we need to use that power wisely. We should be
proud of what we have and shout about it."

He gives the example of The Agency's emotive television commercial for
Telkom in which an elderly man's words 'Molo Mhlobo' transcended all
barriers and were quickly absorbed into local lexicon.  Local leaders
including Nelson Mandela and President Mbeki have used the words in public
addresses as have international figureheads such as US singing star Stella
Adams. "The commercial was uniquely African and the enormous public
take-up of the commercial clearly shows that we should be looking inward
not outward," he said.

Ngwale also says the South African public is being duped into believing
that local is not lekker when it comes to advertising. "Foreign
commercials with South African voice-overs are rife and I believe that's
simply unacceptable. Cost is not the issue here. We need to be clever
about what we say and how we say it - and we need to be creative. We also
need to be critical about our work and have systems in place to constantly
review our work."

The Agency has long held the view that the industry needs to be clearly
afrocentric and lead the way with several ground-breaking commercials.
"For example, when we proposed our new commercial for Vivo Breweries, we
had to persuade the powers-that-be at the SABC to relax the broadcaster's
'pure language policy'. This enabled us to introduce slang or 'isi chamto'
(meaning lingo) into the commercial and the words 'iyavaya eyethu' once
again became everyday vocabulary."

Similarly, The Agency's campaign for Pretoria that featured an animated
statue of Paul Kruger talking to Nelson Mandela on a cellphone,
transcended cultures and historical divides and embraced the new political
framework. "It was leading-edge afrocentrism - and not only did it
stimulate public debate which is a good thing, it also made the rest of
the advertising industry sit up and take notice."

[05 Dec 2002 07:35]

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