Tag Archives: south africa

The Ethics of Marketing to Children

A recent study done by a South African company, Youth Dynamix, has shown some interesting results which lead to an article in yesterday’s Sunday Times.  

The Sunday Times article titled, Material world reels in the young, painted a picture of South African youth as more materialistic than the previous generation. The study done by Youth Dynamix studied South African tweens between the ages of seven and fifteen and used a range of four different methodologies. The BratTrax 2009/2010 study (the fourth study of its kind done) showed that 85% of the respondents interviewed believed that money made them happy.  

The children in the study fall in the age cohort[1] of the Generation Y market. The members of Generation Y are children of baby boomers and, depending on the source were born between 1977 and 1994, or between 1982 and 2000. The members of Generation Y can be divided into three sub segments: Gen Y adults (ages 19-28); Gen Y teens (ages 13-18) and Gen Y “tweens” (ages 8-12). (Schiffman and Kanuk; 2010:410)  

The Gen Y tweens spend and influence roughly $1.18 trillion in purchases worldwide, know brand images better than an advertising expert, spend a lot of time online and affect their parents’ brand choices. (Schiffman and Kanuk; 2010:411) The result of these findings is that a lot of money, more than $15 billion, is being spent annually to directly target and advertise to children.  

Parents aren’t helping the situation along, as fast-paced lifestyles have resulted in parents from middle and upper-middle income homes, are using money to compensate for their lack of involvement in their children’s lives.  

I have no direct experience as a parent, and therefore can’t attempt to understand the delicate nature of the relationship between parents and their children. But I have witnessed many hysterical fits and tantrums in shopping centres, which clearly indicate who the controlling force in many South African households is.  

In conclusion, I would like to paraphrase a quote by education specialist Janine Shamos from the Sunday Times article, “We have manoeuvred ourselves into a situation where we are going to have a mentally and physically unhealthy generation who are confused by what they want and need”.     


Schiffman, L.G. & Kanuk, L.L. 2010. Consumer Behaviour. Tenth Edition. Pearson Education, Inc. New Jersey.  

Naidoo, S. 2010. Material world reels in the young. Sunday Times Newspaper. South Africa.  


[1] A cohort is a group of individuals born over a relatively short and continuous period of time. (Schiffman and Kanuk; 2010:410)


Theatre Review – Waiting for Godot

The Fugard Theatre Cast:

Estragon           Ian McKellen

Vladimir           Roger Rees

Pozzo               Matthew Kelly

Lucky               Brendan O’Hea

Boy                  Khathutshelo Khangala

                        Hisham Ryklief

Today sees the close of the South African leg of Sean Mathias’s production of absurd playwright Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for the Godot. The local production has been on stage in Cape Town’s Fugard Theatre since 29 July and was sold out early on.

The International tour saw the cast travel across the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and finally end in South Africa. The production at the Fugard was however not done with the same set that had been used in many of the international performances as it proved to be too expensive and large for the intimate venue. The stage at the Fugard Theatre is a quarter of the size of the stage used in the original production which ran for two years on London’s West End.

I personally felt that the Fugard was the best possible choice for the production as it is a return to the manner that absurdist theatre was meant to be performed, in an intimate setting with none of the trimmings of conventional theatre. The Fugard embodied this with the signature exposed beams and light fixtures which one has come to expect and associate with the theatre of the absurd. The tree which is central to the action (or lack thereof) in the play was done to appear as though it grew out of the floor and blends in with the rest of the simple décor in the theatre. The seating was done to encircle the stage thus further removing the fourth wall.

Another striking aspect of the play were the costumes which were strikingly authentic that I now see how it was possible for passersby in Australia to mistake Sir Ian McKellen for a tramp. The bruises on his legs and sores on his feet are also done with such accuracy that I did a double take to make sure that it was indeed make-up.

The lighting design at the Fugard Theatre was done by South African local Mannie Manim, who is also the Executive Director of the Fugard Theatre.

Vuvuzelas – sending the wrong message?

While soccer fever has taken over South Africa, I can help but wonder whether the beautiful game has become overshadowed by the awful noise.

When trying to view the matches on television, you have to concentrate so hard to hear what the commentators are saying as it is abundantly clear that they are evermore distracted by the incessant buzzing of thousands of enthusiastic vuvuzela blowing fans.

International broadcasting organisations such as the BBC and ESPN experienced sound related problems early on during the FIFA World Cup. Many consumers phoned in to report that they could not hear the commentators, only the buzzing sound emanating from the stadiums in live broadcasts. This resulted in World Cup organising chief South African Danny Jordaan considering on banning the vuvuzela’s from stadiums. Though reported by Worldsoccer.com this never happened.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a fan sitting in the stadiums watching your favourite team play after flying in from your home country only to be so distracted by the ear-splitting noise that you are unable to enjoy the star player’s winning goal.

The abuse of the vuvuzela indoors at airports and inside shopping centres in South Africa has resulted in a nationwide indoor ban of the “plastic trumpet”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a home country hating cynic or opposed to the wonderful foreign exposure that South Africa is getting due to the Football World Cup being hosted in our beautiful country, all I’m pondering is whether or not the vuvuzela and its accompanying noise isn’t perhaps sending the wrong message of South Africa.

There is already an enormous amount of online backlash as to the harmful effects of vuvuzela. Many sites have cited the possible long-term effects that prolonged exposure to the noise of vuvuzela’s could have on a person’s hearing. BBC News stated in an online article that the vuvuzela blows in at 127 decibels at full volume when pressed against your ear. Other noise makers such as a drum (at 122 decibels), a chainsaw (at 100 decibels) and a referee’s whistle (at 121.8 decibels) fall much lower on a sliding scale of harmful sound levels.

Other international sporting events such as the Tri Nations Rugby and Rugby World Cup are surely going to be subjected to the vuvuzela if the sporting matches are to be held in South Africa. New Zealand however has banned the “long plastic air horn” from matches held at their rugby stadiums. In an article on Rugbyweek.com David Kennedy states that this weekend’s match between the Springboks and the All Blacks at Eden Park will free from the swarm of bees sound produced by vuvuzela toting supporters.

In the midst of all this negativity, I can’t help but wonder whether international visitors are forming an unpleasant association between South Africa, its people and the vuvuzela. Has the annoying noise lead to visitors labelling all South Africans as annoying? Consumer Perception is a dangerous thing and a difficult assumption to change.

Have we in our excitement and joy over hosting the World Cup, indirectly sabotaged our positive marketing attempts (through lively and colourful adverts promoting our country) with a cheap tuneless noise.