Vodadvertising – what NOT to do in Ghana.

I was originally going to do a rather self absorbed post about how ace it is being in a band; although it is actually ace some matters are more important.

USPG are a favourite charity of mine they seem to do stuff logically i.e mission not by conversion but by social aid, and I first came across them when I wasn’t Christian at Greenbelt festival 05. Since I signed up to be updated they send me all sorts of things about what they are up to and what issues they are involved in. Most of their activity is keeping people alive and giving people hope in near impossible circumstances. One article caught my eye this quarters magazine (spring), I’m not sure if it’s because I work in advertising, if its because I am Christian or if I’m a bit of social activist (or indeed if I’m an orange customer) however Vodafone seem to have gone a tad bit too far.

Obama was making his way to Ghana, which is a great idea, big powerful man putting the worlds spotlight on to a poor country. This I have no problem with, however the red carpet that was layed before his eyes I do have a problem with, let me explain.

With such a large spotlight on a country that has little advertising structure (at least not to the scale in the western world) Vodafone wanted their presence felt in the region Obama was visiting (Cape Coast). Not least because vodafone they have just taken over the countries telecommunications company and so thought the best way to get this point across was some nice aggressive marketing.  

So what does have to do with USPG? well they were out their taking photos of the place in their recent tour of the country and were puzzled by the seemingly large advertising campaign. Asking what the shop keeper had received for the removal of his hand painted and loved shop front for a bright red hut their simply replied ‘a t-shirt’. The photographer quizzed the said shop keeper; why had he given in to vodafone salesperson? He replied that he felt slightly bullied by the salesman who told  him ‘you don’t want your hut looking bad for Obama’ it was only when the world’s press had left did the reality of the situation sunk in, vodafone had secured free global advertising with virtually zero competition.

How very responsible of vodafone…

For further reading…



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