Thatcher and the man candle

I recently discovered the marketing genius of man candles. I’m thrilled that there is finally a provision for an entire gender that has always wanted to buy them but didn’t want to look ridiculous with luscious lavender or calming chamomile in their shopping trolley. I personally love being ridiculous so I’ve never had a problem with buying any kind of candles. But the amount of times a man in cowboy boots, greasy overalls or idling in his bakkie in the parking lot has asked me for advice on where to get such items – well I can’t even tell you.

Absurd stories fill our headlines daily. I guess that in this era of information-overload and bullshit-saturation, it’s a welcome rebound from the death toll, fraud, corruption, education and politician-fiascos we have to roll our eyes at daily.


Margaret Thatcher died today. I was too young to grasp very much about her reign but – from what I do know and have seen since – I think our country could do with a politician who has enough cerebral capacity to know what he/she is talking about while exacting zero tolerance on the bandwagon brigade of blue lights, parties, jets, houses (“compounds”) and more wives than you can (literally) shake your stick at. Margaret Thatcher was consistent and true to her word, and if that incited an uprising, well at least people felt compelled to react. We have sadly reached the global status quo of ambivalent shoulder-shrugging. We too readily throw our hands up with a mumbled ah well… but we’ll demand to see the manager of Woolies when there’s a spelling error on the makeshift notice at the pie section. We are odd indeed…

Here’s another ridiculous headline from today: “Couple hold teen prostitute hostage for 2 days.” This happened in the Cape where they held her hostage for a sex orgy that lasted, well… for two days. The list of what is wrong with the world when a teenager has to resort to prostitution is a very long one, never mind the pond-scum that creates a demand for such a service.

From one teen to another, Justin Bieber has a new haircut. This left me unable to sit still because I religiously model my hairstyle on Justin Bieber’s and was just thinking I could do with a change. Ergo… This breaking news was higher on the list than a new HIV three-in-one pill with fewer side effects for the people taking it and a therapy that would cut monthly costs per patient from R150 to as little as R89 per month. We are a peculiar audience, aren’t we?


Looking for something with more heart? Matt Silver-Vallance took Pixar’s Up to heart and filled enough balloons with helium to fly from Robben Island to Cape Town. Why would he do such a thing? To raise R10million for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

What a champ! I bet he’s not even slightly perturbed by the candles he buys or what Justin Bieber’s hair looks like. I’ve never actually seen him shopping for candles, but if we can’t get Maggie back, maybe Silver-Vallance is keen for a bout of politics?


© Dylan Balkind


Yes, it is Justin Bieber. And yes, it is corny. But it’s also memorable. Love or hate the odd phenomenon that he has become, this must have made you smile? Come on, admit it… His performance is honest, the ridiculousness of the screaming men is something to see and – at the end of it all – supporting this cause helps the Make A Wish foundation.

If I lived in New York, I’d be there. Would you?

Advertising Agency: JWT, New York, USA.

Can viral marketing beat the bullies?

Would you think it ok if boys threw your pencil box from the third floor balcony at school or pushed your head into a locker? Would it be ok if you were hospitalised from a beating based on your sexual orientation? Probably not. But there are horrible, angry people out there and bad things happen to good people.

So? What makes an ok day for you?

What makes an ok day for Casey Heynes is not being beaten up or duct taped to a pole. Who is Casey Heynes? Right now he is the hero of every underdog ever pushed, beaten, ridiculed or taunted. He is the Australian schoolboy who fought back at the cowardly runt who picked on him one time too many.

Because the set-up was malicious from the start, the altercation was filmed (with a different outcome expected no doubt). The video has since gone viral and can be found on YouTube, embedded within online news reports from around the world and featured in interviews with Casey Heynes himself. Here the power of viral marketing is obvious and while teachers and bullies alike are backtracking and preaching innocence and shock, the fact is, it took the explosion of this issue in this boy’s life for the bigger picture to be seen – by a MUCH bigger audience.

It has been shown that when one person has an impactful online experience, he or she will tell 12 more people. This is the dynamic that powers viral marketing. This is the dynamic that makes for fast-track superstars like Lily Allen and Justin Bieber. In this case, it is the dynamic that brought this young man some help – from around the world.

It’s staggering to read worldwide statistics on bullying and the connection between bullying, being bullied and suicide in children and teenagers (according to a new review of studies from 13 countries by the Yale School of Medicine). How this happens is beyond me. We all come from something so beautiful. Still, because of this disease, organisations like the Give a Damn Campaign and the Trevor Project have been formed – with every superstar and figurehead known (including Barack Obama) getting behind them. The message to bullied, lost or suicidal kids out there? It Gets Better.

Singers like P!NK and Taylor Swift (to name just a few) are using their medium to wage war on bullies and celebrate the beauty in being different. So if you’re too school for cool, and you’re treated like a fool, you could choose to let it go… or you can go viral. It’s your channel to use. The world is online. The world is listening.

So now? What makes an ok day for you?

If there is somene out there to whom you now feel you have something to say, get in touch.

It will make your day more than ok.

Spitting milk through your nose for Doritos?

I thank my lucky stars that we are all unique. I couldn’t imagine the world having to put up with two of me, let alone two Robert Pattinson’s, Justin Bieber’s, Robert Mugabe’s or two Mubarak’s. God alone knows, one of each keeps us busy enough. This makes for an interesting landscape for advertisers and the scope they aim their messages at. Even though we are unique, we most certainly fall into groups with common interests. Mine do not include Pattinson or Bieber, but yours might and that is cool too.

Advertising appeals to how we view ourselves. So at first, when looking at these two Doritos commercials, I would have said I preferred one above the other. In hindsight, I simply think they are smart enough to have hit on different audiences under the common element of humour. They work for the brand because they are able to attract the attention of a (hopefully) versatile audience that has one thing in common: a love for Doritos.

I don’t like The Best Part’s geeky guy. He is a little over enthusiastic about Doritos if you ask me, but, in all fairness, I don’t fit into a group of people who think electrons, data and the hypothetico-deductive model is cool or phenomenal. The guy in this spot strikes me as one who does – so that is exactly who they are appealing to. His type – and anyone closely associated with his type – is going to find this funny, whereas it just left me straight-faced and unimpressed.

The House Sitting version appeals to me in a bigger, better way. Yeah, it’s silly, but it is also simultaneously cheeky and self-deprecating. The college guy forgets to attend to any of the things he was supposed to do and is faced with that last minute panic to get the house back in order – with one final clincher that aims to score points for the power of Doritos.

The difference between the two is that one highlights Doritos as the hero and the other lets the (supposed) humour take over. No matter which one you prefer (if any) it comes down to whether you are buying into these corny chip ads or not – and whether that is translating into sales of their products. The rest of the series proves they are definitely that – corny. I am sure that their creative team salutes everything about Revenge of the Nerds, and I don’t doubt for a second that they have some people laughing so much they spit milk through their noses or suddenly discover their own incontinence. But, like I said, I thank my lucky stars that we are all unique.

Others in the series:

No matter how you feel about these, they are harmless. Even if you don’t like them, it is unlikely that they are going to mean you refuse to buy Doritos from this moment forward. I’m thrilled they haven’t won me over entirely. I hate spitting milk through my nose and quite fancy the idea of being able to control my bladder.


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