South Africa: The leader of Advertising’s Free World

I was watching the Superbowl at someone’s house and eating pizza and drinking beer. The Superbowl is a game in which they play American Football. American Football is a game I don’t understand very well yet. In it, men in spandex play a form of Rugby. And then they stop, and the adverts come on again.

Many brands launch their advertising campaigns at the Superbowl. It’s a big deal. Unfortunately, the adverts aren’t really good. American advertising is not very good. It’s kinda old fashioned. And all the expensive explosions in it can’t hide the lack of real entertainment value.

There are various reasons for this.
1. America allows competitive advertising: While the South African advertising industry had to come up with something as brilliant as “beats the benz” to get away with it – and still was forced to stop airing the advert – Americans advertisers can simply play the point the finger game. Which is almost as boring to watch as it is to play.
2. Americans are scared of offending each other: Not sure why. Maybe cause they’ve all seen what happens to entire countries that offend Americans. But in any case, tip toes are the way to go. So poop jokes. Cute old people. Puppies. Yawn.
3. English rules America: There is simply no equivalent of “Met Eish”. Multiculturalism is not encouraged. It is, in theory, but without encouraging multiple languages, multiple cultures will get lost. Some things can only be said in certain languages, and keeping those languages enriches culture and keeps people on their toes.

4. Litigation kills creativity: If every advert for adult daipers needs to have a long disclaimer about nappy rash, when are we ever going to get to the funny stuff? I ask you.
5. The USA has a thriving film , comedy, and adult film industry: Desperation drives many of South Africa’s creatives into advertising, rather than film, theatre or porn, where they belong.  Here, people have options.

So to save you time, here are the highlights of America’s best superbowl adverts of the year 2011.

And Xtina’s performance with funny comments. Got to say, it was better than the version I heard at the Ducks’ game I attended.

Oh, and just published my latest column. It’s all about how to piss Americans off without firing a single shot. If you get that reference, congratulations on reading the news occasionally.

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6 Responses to “South Africa: The leader of Advertising’s Free World”

  1. Tweets that mention South Africa: The leader of Advertising’s Free World « Jean Barker's Sign Language -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jean Barker, ignant j. ignant j said: RT @JeanBarker: South Africa: The leader of Advertising's Free World […]

  2. Shannon Says:

    I had wondered why so many creatives in SA ended up in advertising (nothing against it, my dad runs an ad agency–and print ads are generally much more clever than TV ads, I have learned) and your explanation makes sense, so thanks.

    I heard the Superbowl ads were particularly dull this year. Usually there’s at least one stand-out and this year there really wasn’t, apparently. Look up Budweiser’s “Real Men of Genius” though–those were funny and spawned a lot of parodies, and they were effective in that unlike some clever ads, you could still remember what was being advertised.

    Oh, and I’ve heard SAfricans raving about the Old Spice commercials–so apparently American advertising isn’t totally dead. (“I’m on a horse.”)

    I liked your column. For what it’s worth, I think most of the Americans weren’t annoyed by the column, which had a flippant but affectionate tone, as they were the predicable onslaught of smug, arrogant, parochial comments.

  3. jeanbarker Says:

    I don’t think the column was directed against Americans. It was really about my inability to fit in – even now. My columns in South Africa were similar really. Ha.

    I heard they were particularly dull this year.

    Thanks for being nice about my column – and for providing some rare intelligent crit on News24.

  4. Shannon Says:

    I didn’t think it was anti-American at all, it seemed more about the fish-out-of-water syndrome, to which I’m extremely sympathetic. And I think your affection for where you are is obvious. It’s the trolls from both sides who ruin the discussion–those who are like “America can’t do anything wrong, fuck you!” and the ones who are like “America is the great Satan plus they’re stupid and fat” are the ones who irritate me. Of course I can get drawn in too–sigh. As if I haven’t already learned one should never read comment sections without a glass of wine.

    On the other hand, as someone noted, your columns are some of the only ones that don’t split down racial lines so you can take some pride in that. 😉

  5. jeanbarker Says:

    Thanks for getting me. And of course I’m not Anti-American. I’m not anti anyone.

    I didn’t think about it that way. Actually even when I was in South Africa, that was the case. Perhaps because I never really thought about it that way then, either. Something about my mother just made me that way.

    Anyhow. I’m so tired. Dinner guests only left an hour ago and I have to be up and going again in three hours.

    Hope to meet you in person one day, Shannon.

  6. Shannon Says:

    Hope you enjoyed the dinner party and are ready for the new week.

    I’m about to go take on the undergrads at UCT. 😛

    I do hope we’ll meet in person.

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