One of the things I like about NetFlorist is the way it is prepared to be “out there” with its brand and to allow its ad agency, FCB Joburg, to push the boundaries with its marketing communication. “Harold's Relationship Hotline”, featuring the most camp voice on radio (we know who it is, don't we, FCB?) initially may have put a few people off, but it's become a firm favourite. That's because South Africans are quite broad-minded, generally speaking, and they like a bit of spice and a bit of off-the-wall in their ads. That uniquely cheeky flavour has been missing...
One of the things I like about NetFlorist is the way it is prepared to be “out there” with its brand and to allow its ad agency, FCB Joburg, to push the boundaries with its marketing communication.

“Harold's Relationship Hotline”, featuring the most camp voice on radio (we know who it is, don't we, FCB?) initially may have put a few people off, but it's become a firm favourite. That's because South Africans are quite broad-minded, generally speaking, and they like a bit of spice and a bit of off-the-wall in their ads.

That uniquely cheeky flavour has been missing from a lot of our locally made ads and absent from much of the bland overseas rubbish we see … although, to be fair to the foreign executions, it was never there in the first place.

NetFlorist and FCB Joburg have taken that a bit further with the new “BroQuets”concept. This taps into the well established market for flowers to be used to convey emotion on important occasions – birthdays, engagements, marriages and even bereavements.

At the same time it also uses the mania for sport which seems to be the reason for living for many a South African male – and specifically the fanatical support for football teams in the English Premier League.

Quite how it happened is beyond me because I am no soccer fan, but there are tribes of club loyalists in this country, many of whom have never set foot in England or even watched one of those teams playing.

My daughter, during her last years at school, became an Arsenal fan. How? Not a clue. I even became a temporary Manchester United fan, mainly to tease her. I told her, as Arsenal were flying high at the beginning of the season, that “it ain't over till the fat lady sings”.

As Man U did eventually sneak the title right at the very end (apparently Man U fans look back on the days of Sir Alex Ferguson with teary eyes), I told her the sound she could hear in the background was the fat lady singing…

NetFlorist's clever way of taking advantage of this passionate support for football has been to craft team-specific “BrouQuets” – a bunch of flowers you send to your mate to commiserate (Not!) at the loss of his team.

It is all very lad-like, but then there are probably not that many hardened women footie fans. But it is a cute way of generating extra revenue and will become a talking point among the boys out there.

And, just maybe, when they're on the site paying to embarrass their friends, they might think of spoiling the important women in their lives. Either way. NetFlorist wins – so it gets an Orchid. And so does FCB Joburg.

Recipe for getting media coverage in South Africa: Step One: talk about sex. Step Two: put together a “survey” about sex and tell everyone we're sex mad.

It's a formula which worked for the sleazy “affair” website, Ashley Madison, which got hectares of space in newspapers and online in South Africa for what its “surveys'' revealed about our national sex lives … including one which said the horniest people in the country came from Kuruman.

Of course, the success of this sleazy, borderline fake news relies on the fact that few journalists ask questions. But I did this week, of the PR people at the Love Sex Expo, who sent a breathless release, saying we discovered just how much South Africans truly adore it.

An incredible 98% of all South Africans polled stated THEY LOVE SEX! Apparently, over 55% of South African adults are having sex WEEKLY (that's how you make a point, even in a press release – with CAPITALS!) or more often; while 49% of us have used a sex toy in bed and – 56% use/have used pornography in their sex lives. Wow! So we're really a national of randy bunnies!

So, I asked for more details on the survey.

The conclusions about South African sex behaviour were based on a “poll”of 690 adults … that's right – less than 0.002% of the population aged over 15.

The problem with this sort of marketing is that it cheapens real research and leaves – as in this case – tacky half facts posing as news. It also shows a dearth of ideas on the part of PR people … which is surprising, given the fact that SEX IS EXCITING! So a PR Onion to the Love Sex Expo and its PR outfit, Fine Point.

Orchids and Onions: Saying it with flowers_1

Brendan Seery

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