By Fathima Simjee
While many of you might not think that my personal issues with the Vodacom Meerkat count as “current affairs” I think the matter is of great national importance (and so is the prevention of mass nausea).
Just in case you are lucky enough to not be familiar with the advertising tool cleverly used by Vodacom to lure users to OTHER service providers, see below for a picture of the animated creature which makes me want to stab myself in both eyes with a piece of glass from the smashed television screen I just threw a shoe at.
I need you all to know that simply typing this blog is a great personal sacrifice. Not of my time- no no,I will gladly give you all my time (because procrastination is what I do best), but of my sanity. Why? Because ranting about the Vodacom meerkat and the unbearable fact that it now has a girlfriend makes me imagine them procreating, which in turn is detrimental to my emotional and physical health and well being (as my biography states, I’m a hypochondriac, so my personal health is always on my mind- just the other day I diagnosed myself with ‘cartilaginous cancer’ which I’m not sure even exists).
(HA! I just Googled “cartilaginous cancer” and it does exist! You gotta love the internet…)
Firstly, let’s discuss the little animated creature which gyrates to bad music on our television screens. His name is Mo. Why is that interesting? Well Muhammad/Mohammed is one of the most common names in the world. In 2006, 4 255 Muhammad’s were born in the U.K, with only the name Jack exceeding this number.
Again you might ask, what does this have to do with the vomit inducing meerkat? Very little except for the fact that the commonly recognised nickname for Muhammad is in fact “Mo”. Even my own brother’s name is Muhammad! And no points for guessing what his nickname is. Personally this spout of bad advertising is breaking up my family unit- I can barely call my brother by his own name fearing that it will bring up images of… (aaaahh! Must get it out of my head!!!).
It’s not like bad advertising is a new phenomenon- I don’t use Body on Tap because the adverts are horrendous (I mean who really takes a mobile sink to shopping malls and parking lots and washes peoples hair? One word- lice. ). But this appalling use of CGI takes bad advertising to a new level. Why can’t we go back to the good ol’ ad, that starred real people and had great catch phrases like “it’s not inside, it’s on top”.
Secondly, do you think Vodacom realises that their advertising campaign is actually repulsing more than interesting prospective clients? I am a Vodacom user, but every time an advert comes on with that thing in it, I’m seriously tempted to change to another service provider. Why do I not? Its simple, I’m too lazy.
Back to my initial question, does Vodacom know?? How could they not! Just searching the words “Vodacom meerkat” on the internet brings up hundreds of hits of bloggers who express their fears/hatred/repulsion etc of the animal (similar to what I’m doing right now), there’s a Facebook group (argued to be the most successful South African special interest group on Facebook) which allows for it’s 17 000 members to discuss just how much they hate it and even a video has been made showing the death of the meerkat! (No animals were hurt in the making of said video). So it’s not exactly a national secret.
So why? Here’s my theory. We love to hate it. It gives me something to rant about and it gives you something to read about. So they are lapping up all the hype which we, the victims of this gross human rights violation (I’m sure there’s something in the Geneva Convention about really really bad advertising?) are creating. As the old saying goes, any publicity is good publicity and this horrific creature has certainly caused a stir and gotten people talking. To simplify this for those of you who prefer mathematical equations to essays:
PUBLICITY = MONEY.
So why is this long, incomprehensible rant important? Because at this very moment I am guilty of aiding and abetting the capitalist cause, I am generating capital with every key stroke, I am a puppet of the Big Green Money Making Machine!!! (I admit that was a tad bit melodramatic but it sounded quite cool anyways). So the point I’m ironically making is that while many of us, particularly humanities students, speak out against the Big Bad Capitalist System, we conveniently forget how every day we contribute to it, be it as consumers or as ranting crazed bloggers (like myself).
Or perhaps there was no real point to this and I just wanted to kill some time…. You decide.