• Inside Labour

    A smokescreen of misleading rhetoric won't make SA's problems go away, says Terry Bell.

  • Singapore shows the way

    SA badly needs leaders like the man who turned Singapore around, says Leopold Scholtz.

  • Israeli high-tech flies

    There is rising demand for the country’s high-tech products, says Arthur Goldstuck.

See More

When icons fall

Feb 20 2013 07:28 Adriaan Bester
Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius (File, AP)

Related Articles

Online shopping snags

Mamphela the messiah?

Shareholders in SA Inc

Stop playing with food

New year, fresh start

The grandness of giving

WHEN the creative souls delivered the “I’m the bullet in the chamber” line to a thrilled creative director for a sport shoe brand, they did not start off with a psychoanalysis of the model they worked with.

Their job was not to determine the likelihood of an actual bullet being shot. They had a deadline – and a clever slogan to deliver, one that had to enhance the bottom line.

At most, they tapped into the universal pool of creativity that floats above all of us, the one that only some have the secret code to.

If you think for a moment it is not guarded by unique access layers, recall the cheesy, hurtful one-liners that surfaced as early as Thursday mid-morning last week, and how laymen tried to offer wit.

The slap our creative team got on the shoulders at the drinks party with clients afterwards was delivered with admiration.

It was a comforting pat that said "you’ve done well, you found a way to express, in the least possible words, the truism that reflects a majority of society’s wishes for the model you got to work with".

Now let’s see how far we can push it.

As our homegrown hero's star fades, I am left pondering the power of brands – and how far they have to be pushed to let us sit up and take notice of what they are trying to sell.

What depths do they search for to make them stand out from others, I wonder, and how do they shock us on the very level we are trying to hide from society's good eye?

Can we bear our dark side? And can we live with the guilt? I wonder if it is the job of brands to reveal this layer, or if they are just tapping into our mood in the best way they know how, ultimately leaving us to describe in a few words what our society looks like on the inside.

In the day of the news breaking, my optimistic self was hoping it was all just a very well organised anti-abuse publicity campaign. Maybe this was fuelled by my expectations of the responsible branding.

I was boyishly hoping it would end with Derek Watts popping on our screens to announce to a trapped audience: "This was a carefully crafted message to remind us of how abuse can happen on every level of society” and then sign off, leaving us all with our happy lives.

By the time South Africa’s leading state prosecutors came on the scene, I had long realised the cameras were rolling for a reality TV show that has no script.

It fuelled our braai conversations; it angered our belief in heroes; it questioned our opinions on the way ordinary life seems to exist alongside our fantasy of it.

We seem to choose our heroes to fit the boxes that have been pre-designed for them: to sell a beer, shoes, prime time movies or a lifestyle we aspire to. When they step out of the grid, we act hurt and surprised.

And when our heroes’ egos speed past, we roll out a few jokes to make us feel better about our failed choices.

This is the interplay between mighty men and the rise and rise of brands - and their search for omnipresence. If the one feeds off the other, who becomes the actual fodder?

 - Fin24

Like many others, Adriaan has moved from disbelief to sadness to anger on Twitter as @aiBester this week as he questioned his own expectations from modern day heroes. Views expressed are his own.


Follow Fin24 on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.

adriaan bester


Read Fin24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Company Snapshot

We're talking about:


Johannesburg has been selected to host the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in 2017. "[The congress] will ensure that small business development remains firmly on the national agenda and the radar screen of all stakeholders, the Small Business Development minister said.

Money Clinic

Money Clinic
Do you have a question about your finances? We'll get an expert opinion.
Click here...

Voting Booth

People who fall victim to Ponzi scams are:

Previous results · Suggest a vote