The Martini Shot: Proudly (and unashamedly) South African
by Bobby Amm. The Proudly South African campaign was launched in 2001 by government, organised business and labour and community organisations to boost job creation and pride in local goods and services. Although it still exists*, its message has been diluted over the years and the commercial production sector is feeling the effects of the shift away from the active support of local businesses and expertise.
Wave of optimism
Proudly SA was arguably one of the most-successful collaborative campaigns ever launched, and its implementation followed a wave of optimism in the early Mbeki years. The catchy slogan was on everyone’s lips in a concerted effort to grow the nascent SA economy. Eighteen years later, the outlook seems very bleak by comparison. The world (and South Africa) is now a different place entirely, following the rise of globalisation, the effects of the 2008 financial crisis and the cynicism that that has since emerged and is fuelled by one political crisis after the next.
Enormous global advertising groups have emerged which now actively seek to keep small independent and locally owned business out of the loop, and clients seem no longer particularly interested if their money will find its way back into the local economy or into the pockets of those who now control the global economy.
If SA is to have a future, they should be interested.
Questioning the status quo
When these matters are raised, the predictable response is that we should embrace the “new way of working”, that we should be less parochial and understand that things have changed. “Just get over it and move on”, we are told. Anyone questioning the status quo is made to be small-minded, whereas the real questions should be:
Have things changed for the better or have they simply changed to better suit the few who are benefitting at the expense of everyone else? Has corporate greed escalated to such a level that the people who once made industries great are now simply seen as expendables? And what about the future? Once our industries have been shelled out, what will remain, if anything?
We would like to see a return of the values of Proudly South African to the local advertising industry.
It’s concerning to hear that a new trend for some agencies is to take post-production offshore, rather than supporting the local editors and facilities that have served them so well over the years. Similarly, some agencies are now trying to source foreign directors despite dwindling work opportunities for SA directors, which has seen some of them moving on to new career paths. The livelihood of DOPs, crew, actors and a host of other professionals who’re crucial to the process of making commercials may also be under threat.
The lack of foresight as to how trends like these will ultimately undermine the future of advertising production in SA is concerning indeed, and the time has definitely come for a robust debate on how to better protect and sustain our local industry.
*It now has a website where you can buy SA products online.
Bobby Amm is chief executive of the Commercial Producers Association of South Africa (CPA), the trade association of production companies that produce television, cinema and internet commercials for the local and international market. After a brief stint in journalism, she began her career in the industry at the Consultative Committee for the Entertainment Industry in the early 1990s. She first joined the CPA in 1997 but left three years later to join a production company. After finding that she missed the big-picture perspective of the CPA and the interesting issues which continuously perplex the production industry, Bobby returned to the CPA in 2003. She contributes “The Martini Shot” column monthly, covering developments, trends and insights into the commercial production and film services industries in South Africa, to MarkLives.
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