MarkLives.com – 06 February 2013
The African Cup of Nations (AFCON) is on the go. In fact it is almost over. Mali faces off against Nigeria today (Wednesday 06 February 2013) at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, as does the Burkina Faso versus Ghana match which takes place at the Mbombela Stadium just outside Nelspruit, the capital of Mpumalanga. The semi-finals and finals go down this weekend on Saturday 09 February 2013 and Sunday 10 February 2013.
First up I need to declare my interests. I am a soccer lover of note and I have massive affection for Africa. Soccer is my passion but falling in love with this continent has been a matter of business, taking me from Kenya to Nigeria, from Ghana to Mozambique.
Over the past five years or more I have been travelling the continent, and let me tell you this has been a liberating, eye-opening and jaw dropping experience. I can only describe the experience as similar to blind dating, where you think you know someone from a distance and then meet them up close and experience their nuances, fragrance, wit, intelligence, culture and personality first hand.
The big problem that a lot of local brand marketers have is that they can view Africa as a country. Mighty Africa, of course, is no country but a massive land mass with very distinct and culturally disparate countries that are as different from one another as Alaska is from Australia. AFCON 2013 presented local brands with the perfect opportunity to explore this continent through soccer, a game that’s adored by so many South Africans.
But the last couple of weeks our national discourse has been consumed with everything but soccer as we fought over that FNB ad, buckled under the news of ESKOM hikes and got even more depressed about Nkandla and the corruption that’s killing this country.
Sadly we missed a magnificent opportunity to divert this country’s obsessive gaze with what’s wrong with our nation, and to focus it on a unifying, beautiful sport. That doesn’t mean ignoring this country’s social or economic challenges, it means remembering how much we have in common. That’s an important thing to remember to do, because it is only by working together that we can turn this great country around.
Football is such a magnificently unifying sport – who can forget the cheers and tears during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, when we filled stadiums in Soweto and screamed until our voices were hoarse? This is why I was so delighted to see Supersport’s series of advertising promos which were used to create excitement about AFCON 2013. (But equally disappointed to read the channel’s story ‘Lack of vibe dogs Afcon countdown’.
Using those four classic elements that rule our world – earth, fire, water and wind – award-winning video effects and production company, Ensemble, helped create a breath-taking series of spots for Supersport that captures all the drama of the game of champions.
The earth element promo shows a ragged and rocky outcrop littered with stony structures. There’s a creaking sound that signifies the pillars breaking form and then an African soccer legend emerges from the stone. Using his super powers he recreates the rock as a ball, which becomes a football that he then kicks directly at the audience.
The fire element ad evokes a scene from the X-men or something that Marvel comics would have conjured up. The promo opens with a lava filled pit from which a fire elemental emerges, only to become a football hero who then fashions a football from the molten lava and kicks it toward the audience. A similar theme is used with the water and wind elements.
The commercials are quick but very powerful, and speak to something we seem to have forgotten here at the southern tip of Africa. This is that we are part of a much powerful whole, an economy and a continent that is on the rise. That others on the continent have faced what we are facing now, but have triumphed over it.
Most importantly this series of ads with its inspired visual effects remind us to look for the heroes in our communities and in our worlds. They also inspire us to embrace the mighty game.
Damn it! The AFCON 2013 finals are here. Let’s grab a beer, watch the game and remember what’s good about this country and what this great continent is all about.