International Marketing Council of South Africa: briefing

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Meeting report


31 May 2006

Acting Chairperson:
Ms N Ntwanambi (ANC, Western Cape)

Documents Handed Out:
The South African Story Chapter 2
International Marketing Council of South Africa Strategic Plan 2006
Strategic Plan Power Point Presentation

The International Marketing Council presented its strategic plan for 2006 to the Committee. The presentation focused on the deliverables for fiscal year 2006, the spending plan and nation branding. During the ensuing discussion Members expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the Council and asked about its relationship with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Trade and Industry.

International Marketing Council (IMC) presentation
Chief Executive Officer, Ms Yvonne Johnston provided background on the IMC and stated that it had a "good" reputation. She was pleased that 70% of her staff was black and 60% female. She was also glad to be the leader of such a dynamic team.

Nation branding was an important concept in today's world and provided a crucial competitive advantage. It was important for countries to understand how they were seen around the world. She stated that crime in South Africa was not worse than in other places in the world but the perception was worse.

The IMC wanted to create unity of purpose. It was not about colour and race but about people's mindset. There was a conspicuous consumerism trend among the black middle class. The young "black yuppies" wanted to make a quick buck and did not want to contribute. The IMC had however felt a mood swing in the country that was supported by research acknowledging the positive messages created by the Council. This had been reflected in the changing attitudes here at home.

The IMC’s marketing would intensify and build on the work of 2005. On radio, stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things would be told. There was a need to have the 2010 Soccer World Cup firmly on the radar screen. By that time a unified nation striving for success had to be presented to the world. This would be a nation that had overcome its major challenges and that had a competitive mindset.

The thrust of the international work would be to intensify current efforts and build awareness and receptiveness to the South African brand. The media message had to be targeted and the advertising would make it easier for the country’s managers to gain access to foreign markets. They also planned to conduct a global brand equity tracking study. This would track how well South Africa fared relative to competitors on each one of the key brand attributes.

The country manager formula had been bearing fruit. The master narrative, particularly in the UK had been changing and focusing on the buoyant state of the economy. The key messages had been articulated clearly and increasingly consistently. This year they would expand to India where the focus would be slightly different to the role they had to play in Washington and London.

Another project would be to harness the Diaspora and encourage them to participate in helping IMC achieve its goals.

The deliverables for the fiscal year 2006 included focus on thought leaders in key markets and intensifying their reach, updating the South African Story and marketing material to be used by South African embassies. By the end of 2006 there had to be one outbound mission and two inbound missions. Radio and TV advertising would have to reach at least 63% of the adult population at least three times per burst. IMC would train targeted "frontliners" to deliver its mandate.

Mr J Sibiya (ANC, Limpopo) stated that he was happy that somebody was emphasising the good about South Africa and not just the bad. He asked if the IMC had ever tried doing advertising at South African entry points.

Ms M Temba (ANC, Mpumalanga) mentioned that it had been a vibrant and thought-provoking presentation. Had the research covered the rural parts of South Africa?

Ms S Chen (DA, Gauteng) asked if the IMC had evaluated its achievements. Where could she get books on the South African Story?

Mr D Botha (ANC, Limpopo) stated that Ms Johnson had spoken mainly of Europe. What about the Americas and China?

The Chairperson asked if the IMC worked well with provincial bodies? What were their relations with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Trade and Industry and World Trade Organisation like? Had marketing been done in Africa?

Ms Johnston responded that with branding, it usually took about 20 years to change perceptions. The IMC had just started. Their budget had been increased but was still not large enough. They were a tiny team with a big task. They wanted to establish a framework so that growth could be realised. She stated that everything they did was constrained by resources.

Ms Johnson said at airports they featured in the Sawubona magazine for free. They also dealt with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange where they sent five key stories to all stock brokers. They had tried to paint the airport roof, but had been stopped by red tape. Contact with the provinces was mainly through the various Director-Generals. At the Eastern Cape and Western Cape Workshops, the Premiers had attended.

Ms Johnson felt there was a need to create better relations between workers and employers. Some of their books had also been translated into foreign languages including Mandarin. Members could receive these on request. The IMC was new and had not reach all places yet. They worked with and briefed every single South African Ambassador.

Ms Johnson pointed out that Proudly South Africa (PSA) had nothing to do with the IMC. PSA’s role was to convince South Africans to buy local goods. The relationship with the Department of Foreign Affairs was good and they had been the biggest buyer of promotional material. They bought 22 000 books and had distributed them.

Ms Johnson said the question of Africa was close to her heart and she was asked about that every time she appeared in Parliament. The IMC was however constrained by lack of resources.

The meeting adjourned.


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