This sign on a street in Durban must be the work of a drunk creative. Writing 'WARNING, PROSTITUTES PICKED UP ARE BEING VIDEO'D' is actually the worst detterent any creative can come up with. What happened to 'NO PROSTITUTION ZONE' or 'NO STREET VENDING'?
There are some things that should be as simple as they were meant to be, like what a creative should do in any company. The simplest brief of a creative is to be creative, which in our 11 South African languages should mean the ability to create something, often out of nothing. The equally clever Oxford Dictionary defines creative as; "1. having the power or ability to create things. 2. showing imagination and originality as well as routine skill,".
The reason this point is raised is that a lot of the programmes on television these days leave a lot to be desired when it comes to the people behind their branding. Very few people I know still watch television these days, not because there's nothing interesting but simply that the names of the programmes sound as if they were stolen from a pre-school, they all sound like nursery rythmnes.
A few examples will be provided, but for now, take it back to the days of that dark monster called apartheid and its broadcasting corporation which some people called SAUK (for the uninitiated it is still SAUK, an acronym for Suid Afrikaanse Uitsaai Korporasie or SABC), when it still had a wing called Radio Bantu and largely broadcasting from a cave in Aucklandpark. There were programmes going by the following names; Sundowner (TV1 lifestyle), Ngomqcibelo-kaMokibelo (TV2/3 variety), Louis Motors (TV1 comedy), 50/50 (TV1 nature) and the news had a name called Network or Netwerk. Those were the days of beautiful Nakedi Ribane, Nana Moloi, Andriaan Steed, Riaan Cruywagen, the late Kansas Mchunu and Penny Smythe.
The reason the names of these above programmes are raised is because they were stupidly branded. Louis Motors was set at a vehicle service centre starring a whole bunch of whites with strong South African accents, while 50/50 (a dinosaur that survived to today) was forever set in the Kruger National Park, some bush in Kwazulu-Natal (then Natal) or desert in occupied South-West Africa (now Namibia) and Ngomqcibelo-kaMokibelo was a game show flighted on a Saturday evening and meant to be a hallucinogen to township folk. The names of the shows were meant not to give away the reality of the situation on the ground for the majority of black people. The names were conceived with the intention to say to the people, 'well, everything is fine, why are all these terrorists trying to mess up your fun'. Simply put, the names were not telling a story.
Come post '94 and even with the strides made in the advertising and public relations industries, we now have worst sounding brands like we did in those years. If the Advocate Dali Mpofu administration at SABC really values its brands one should explain why they continue to procure and produce programmes with names that sound like they come from the George Orson Welles (? please do own research) era. Names like; Lekgotleng le Modise (SABC2), Going Up- Again (SABC2), 3Talk (SABC3), Asikhulume (SABC1), News at 7 and 10 (SABC3), Everybody hates Chris (SABC1), Zola 7 (SABC1) and many more. A creative's take on this creativity deficiancy would be that the aforementioned names don't add up to the brand that the SABC is trying to build. Why call your programme Zola 7 when inmates die everyday behind bars because of that number and yours has got nothing to do with prison life but just a platform for hypocritical self-indulgence and a paid for ego trip meant to create a ghetto Messiah where there is none.
Lessons can be learned from other broadcasters, more so even local ones. But before the lessons, etv can not just get away so mildly. Who in their right mind came up with the title 'Let's Fix It'? I doubt it was Solly Philander or Sam Marshal. Other less creative etv programme names include; Morning Edition (think SABC 2's Morning Live), Backstage (when the drama has got little to do with the backstage but a bar), Everybody Loves Raymond, Showbiz Report, Whose Line Is It Anyway, Cheaters, Men Behaving Badly etc.
However the two broadcasters deserve a pat on the back for some creative programme names that add value to their brands like; 3rd Degree (9/10), Top Billing (9/10), Special Assignment (7/10), In the Public Interest (6/10), Eastern Mosaic (8/10), Selimathunzi (6/10), Isidingo (8/10) and The Rough Cut (9/10). These are brilliant names that spark interest to watch immediately somebody mentions them. While not giving away the secret they are names you can print on a T-shirt, stand at a street corner and peddle. You'll be arrested though - trademark violation.
They make one remember and applaud outstanding names which have built brands throughout like MTV Cribs, Pimp My Ride (MTV), Hard Talk (BBC), Larry King Live (CNN), Oprah (Harpo), The Apprentice, Big Brother and Oz (HBO) etc. It has even resulted in people often reffering to intense interviewing as being 'given the hard talk' or 'the 3rd degree'. They call intelligence agencies 'big brother' and 'pimp' now has got nothing to do with whores.
Branding is important because it's the name that sells the brand, thus the name is as crucial as the product it is marketing. Going into 2010 we need to have an outstanding identiy, something well branded beyond shouting with faint voices 'Siyangcoba', while we don't even have a Bafana squad but a coach who rakes in R1,8million a month when a third of the country is on hunger alert. What is happening with our broadcasters and their marketing departments shows serious lack of imagination, which is the hallmark of any creative.

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