What now?

Photo from The Guardian, July 11

Apologies for the long delay. While I’d love to say I was being strategic and was purposely waiting a whole month since the last ball was kicked for this post, I’d be lying. I’ve simply been busy. Poor excuse though. However, it is a bit fortuitous that the first real free moment I’ve had to write falls almost exactly a month since that last game. A month, which has provided a decent amount of time to let that surface layer of dust to settle; to let those who were fortunate enough to be employed before the games remember that they should probably get back to work or risk losing that precious job; to let those who were scraping by before the games get back to their business of “making do.” Whatever the circumstance, by now most people in South Africa and around the world have asked themselves, “now what?” It’s a fair question, particularly since South Africans have been preparing, mentally and physically, for this event for the past five years.

Early reports show that the post-World Cup hangover has been tough. The Financial Times, in a July 21 article, described how the amazing sense of friendliness and safety that pervaded the country during the games, was beginning to wear off, with reported solated xenophobic attacks against immigrants. Economic forecasters were already beginning to downgrade the country’s growth projections for the year.

This negativity and the doubts shouldn’t be surprising.  They were there before the games and they’ll continue to persist long after, regardless of the amazing spectacle South Africa put on for the world.

So the real question isn’t “now what?” i.e. ho-hum, what are we to do?  But the question is “now what?” meaning how will South Africa and South Africans react to a post-World Cup reality?  This will be real test of their mettle. Was all of the Shosha-loza national unity caused only by the pixie dust of the World Cup or will this event really be seen as a starting point towards a truly post-racial South Africa?  Will white South Africans begin attending the Kaizer Chiefs v. Orland Pirates derbies (if they can get tix); will black South Africans begin filling the stands for Springboks matches?  We’ll see.

This will also be a test of the commitment of the business community.  It was clear that multinational brands, even the large sponsors, didn’t use the opportunity to invest real resources into the growth of the country.  Their long-term commitment to the country and region will be tested now.  And all of the idyllic private-public partnerships that preceded the games (think Gautrain) will also be on trial to see if they continue as beacons of South Africa’s growth.

A month is still a short period of time to get over fiver years of anticipation.  But I believe the early actions (or lack thereof) will be indicative of how this event will shape the future of the country.

I’m hopeful that the amazing energy I saw during the World Cup will serve as a catalyst for continued greatness.  Time will tell, but I hope we see some signs early.

Would love to hear anyone’s thoughts or comments.

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Guest Post: Kicking Malaria Out of Africa

By Andrew Bonifiglia

June 13, 2010 – Johannesburg, South Africa

Kicking Malaria Out of Africa

There are plenty of good causes that will benefit from the hype, sponsorship, and promotion that the World Cup brings to South Africa. One in particular caught my interest; United Against Malaria (http://unitedagainstmalaria.org/).

With a mission to “Kick Malaria Out of Africa” the organization is using the World Cup as a platform to promote malaria prevention and treatment. Like HIV/AIDS, malaria is not only a social and health issue, but an economic one. Employee sick days, lost productivity from those infected with the disease, and employee vacation or unpaid leave due to family members having the illness all impact a company’s bottom line. 850,000 people die from malaria each year[i]. When you take into consideration the points I just made, that can add up to millions upon millions of Rands. And please don’t think I’m cold hearted. The reason the economics are so important is because organizations like United Against Malaria, coupled with the reach and financial resources of governments and large corporations operating in Africa, can win the fight against malaria. Behavioral change is the ultimate goal. The population at-large needs to understand the risks associated with malaria, how it can be prevented, and most importantly, MODIFY behavior to mitigate the chance of becoming part of the statistics. Hopefully, the amount of coverage the World Cup draws to UAM and malaria in general will be the impetus to an Africa where malaria has been “kicked out.”

And just a final comment; the push to reduce the number of malaria cases in Africa is not a new thing. However, the paradox is that it is a completely preventable disease and one that can be treated (much easier than HIV/AIDS). With that in mind, I think it is a cause worth fighting for and one where the goal can be realized if all of the stakeholders come together.

[And a quick thank you to Celia Deitz who is working for United Against Malaria and was kind enough to give me a few minutes of her time to learn about the great work she and the organization are doing] [i]


Oldie but goodie: Bono tips World Cup in his 10 for the next 10

This is a few months old but I thought I’d big it up a little bit.  Bono, in the New York Times, around the turn of the new year, comprised a list of ten trends/things to watch out for the next ten years.  His last one was particularly intriguing to this blogger.  He titled it “World Cup Kicks Off the African Decade.”  In the few paragraphs the writer states

“This time round, for the 2010 World Cup, naysayers thought South Africa could not build the stadiums in time. Those critics should be red-faced now. South Africa’s impressive preparations underline the changes on the continent, where over the last few years, 5 percent economic growth was the average. Signs point to a further decade of growth to come. Canny investors will put more capital there. This in turn has the potential to shore up fragile young democracies across the continent.”

That’s exactly what I’m talking about.  Hopefully some influential readers of the NY Times caught wind of this.  And hopefully the World Cup does truly serve as a catalyst.  Big up to Bono for including this on his list.  Let’s hope that the corporations and sponsors  see the same opportunity that Bono highlighted.

To read the full post:

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Major World Cup Sponsors Cede Exclusivity Rights! What?

Writer, Ron Derby (rderby1@bloomberg.net) recently reported on www.Bloomberg.com that Mcdonald’s, the world’s biggest restaurant company and official World Cup sponsor, waived their rights to exclusively supply food at World Cup soccer stadiums and fan parks during the tournament starting this June 11.

What? (that’s what I said.)

Apparently, the company will instead focus on providing food at its 132 restaurants in the country.  Sechaba Motsieloa, marketing director at McDonald’s South African unit said:

“We are best suited to leverage our position at our restaurants than outside that environment…it’s also a “consideration of capacity.”

According to the article:

McDonald’s expects sales at existing stores to increase between 17 percent and 35 percent in the build-up to the tournament that begins on June 11, with revenue seen climbing 10 percent during the actual event, Motsieloa said.

But this doesn’t mean that stadium concessions will be filled with mom & pop operations or that fans will be expected to pack a bunny chow in their bag.  No, McDonald’s, has allowed FIFA, to find a partner to provide food inside stadiums and fan parks, but they can’t be a branded fast-food company.  According to Motsieloa:

McDonald’s will continue to maintain their in-venue presence through its player escort program at all stadiums, and one McCafe coffee- house-style outlet outside the international media centre at the country’s main stadium in Johannesburg, which will host both the opening and final games.

Also, earlier this month, Anheuser- Busch InBev NV, the maker of Budweiser and Stella Artois, ceded their rights to be the exclusive beer provider inside stadiums.

What’s going on here?

Is it related to the fact, as Mr. Derby reports, that:

South Africa earlier this month cut its visitor estimate for the tournament to 350,000 people from 450,000 previously, with only 100,000 international air tickets having being sold three months before the event?

Are sponsors expecting lower tourism related revenue opportunities?  Are Anheuser-Busch Inbev NV gambling that there will be more money to be made (or less to lose) by focusing on their operations outside the stadiums and fan parks, like McDonald’s are doing.  Are they dropping South Africa (and Africa) as a market?  Are they just anticipating and mitigating the risk of angering fans for only offering Budweiser at the stadiums, particularly in light of their main competitor, SABMiller (SAB = South African Brewery), being a South African born brand?

Or did SABMiller, pay their rival A LOT of money to take over their rights?  It seems like that’s pretty feasible, given that they just reached an agreement with FIFA to supply as many as 10 million beers at the 10 fan parks, serving up to 280,000 people a day, that have been built to cater to fans unable to get game tickets. Perhaps on a per game basis they calculated greater opportunity to build their brand locally (and sales) outside the stadium knowing that the majority of those watching from the fan parks (rather than the majority of those in the stadium) will be the folks remaining in the country after the games are done.

Whatever the reason is, I’m assuming it was a calculated decision; it just seems strange for a sponsor to pay all that money for the sponsorship rights only to give them up 2.5 months before the games begin.

This is a very interesting trend and I’ll be curious to to learn more about the underlying motives of McDonald’s and Anheuser-Busch Inbev.

For Mr. Derby’s full article, click here: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601116&sid=am4CpTMfPov0

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Good news! Joburg’s hawkers allowed in on the World Cup action!

According to an article on SouthAfrica.info, street vendors will be allowed to cash-in on the 2010 World Cup, as long as they adhere to FIFA’s by-laws. This is welcome news in light of previous reports of FIFA and the South African government cracking down on these hopeful entrepreneurs. I had written about the plight of some small business owners during the 2009 Confederations Cup and it was expected that the crackdown during the upcoming World Cup would be even more severe.

The article quotes 2010 spokeswoman, Sibongile Mazibuko, as stating:

Though trading will not be permitted in exclusion zones around the stadiums on match days, new opportunities are being created for traders to benefit from being situated in high-fan traffic areas.”

She further advised informal traders to join programmes designed by the city’s department of economic development to help coach them through the tournament.

Mazibuko also stated that:

“Traders can further cash-in on new opportunities by selling food to secure clients such as the city’s 2010 volunteer workforce, the staff working at the event and VIP guests of the city.  Traders are, however, expected to comply with Fifa by-laws by avoiding selling illeal counterfeit goods, engaging in ambush marketing or trading along protocol main routes outside demarcated trading areas.”

Lastly the article states:

The Johannesburg metropolitan municipality was also hosting several parallel events at which accredited traders would be able to sell their wares.  These included fan fests at Innes Free Park, in Sandton, and at Elkah Stadium, in Soweto, which accommodated 30 000 or more fans.

This isn’t a perfect solution but it’s better than I expected.  FIFA is still going to aggressively protect the rights of sponsors to sell within  designated zones, but at least they’ve acknowledged, rather than tried to ignore, the many entrepreneurs who were looking to benefit from the excitement around the games and influx of tourists. However, the majority of free-spending tourists will likely not be viewing games from Sandton or Soweto, so entrepreneurs are losing out on that huge opportunity, but it’s better than nothing.  Hopefully, this initiative from the 2010 city council will be well-received by South Africans rather than a reason for further ire.

To read the full article, click here: http://www.southafrica.info/news/business/31654.htm

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Adidas vs. Puma vs. Nike Infographic

Infographic from Meet The Boss

I recently came across a neat infographic on PSFK from the Meet The Boss site.  The static image to the left doesn’t do the infographic justice so I would recommend you click on this image and go straight to the Meet The Boss link.  There you can zoom in and read the small type and get more of a holistic understanding of the histories and backgrounds of the Big 3.

Basically this infographic provides the histories of Adidas, Nike, and Puma, the three biggest sports brands in the world.  As PSFK states:

In anticipation of this Summer’s World Cup, this infographic depicts the three key global athletic footwear brands that will be battling for best representation, and visible association with top teams and players, during and after the global championship. The graphic informs on the size (revenues), leadership, acquisition history and brand portfolios of Adidas, Puma and Nike – with Nike still being the global lead (in terms of revenue), but with Adidas catching up quickly.

The article also poses the question:

It will be interesting to see how the World Cup – and each brand’s representation within it -impacts their sales of soccer-related merchandise, and total revenues.

I’ve written about this issue on this site before so it’s interesting to see it addressed by some sites I really respect.  And as the games get even closer, it will be interesting to see how each of these three brands steps up their efforts to leverage the attention around the World Cup during the summer of 2010.  And as I’ve promoted, I firmly believe CSR efforts could do a lot to win “hearts and minds” throughout South Africa, the Continent and beyond.

To read the PSFK article click here:


However something that’s caught my eye is Puma’s effort to authentically own African football.  I believe they’ve been deliberate in this effort by sponsoring many African national teams over the years, but if you watch the video below, you can tell they’ve invested in the idea of African football as a whole.  They recognize that this World Cup belongs to all of Africa, and by leveraging the stars they have as spokespeople (John Mensah, Emanual Eboue, Samuel E’to), they can connect with consumers around the Continent.  I think it’s a smart strategy.  Also, it’s a beautifully shot piece and I for one would be very happy to see Puma continue creating pieces like this.

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Tragedy in Angola; Effects on South Africa?

The African Nations Cup, the bi-annual tournament, taking place in Angola this year was supposed to open the celebration of football on the continent.  Though not related, it was regarded as a wonderful prelude to the World Cup in South Africa, coming up later in the year. However, as many readers likely know, before a single ball was kicked, the tournament began in tragedy.  As reported on ESPNSoccernet.com, on January 9th,

“Gunmen in an area plagued by separatist violence used machine guns to open fire Friday on a bus carrying Togo’s national soccer team to a tournament in this southwest African country, killing the driver and wounding at least nine people, including two players.”

Reports are still coming in, but it has now been confirmed that there have been at least 3 deaths.  After initially wanting to carry on and play in the tournament, the Togo national team has pulled out and will be returning to Togo on Sunday via presidential plane.

This is an absolute tragedy for all of the players, families, players involved, and a blow to the footballing world.  And in light of the upcoming World Cup, what was supposed to be a celebration leading up to the event has been transformed into a time of mourning.  However, I do hope that the words, if not the attitude, spoken by Danny Jordaan of the World Cup organizing committee, are taken to heart by the global community.  Jordaan, one of the leading advocates for the World Cup and South Africa has asked the world to make the distinction between Angola and South Africa rather than let the event cast a shadow over the entire continent.  As reported on ESPN,

Jordaan offered his sympathies to Nations Cup hosts Angola, admitting the bus attack was a blow for the country but re-iterated his frustrations with the world “tainting” South Africa with the same brush.

“I feel very sorry for the Angolans because they have spent billions on fixing up their cities and building infrastructure for this tournament. This was going to be the event that would mark their transition from decades of war to a new social and economic order. In that context, it’s a blow.”

“The world must be balanced and must not apply different standards when it comes to the African continent. Our World Cup is secure and we are confident because we have employed a lot of resources to safeguard the event in our country.”

I generally agree with Jordaan and hope that the tragedy in Angola does not mar people’s perceptions of South Africa.  I have to believe the games will be secure and safe.  However, these events harshly remind us of the difficulties on the Continent as well as the rest of the World.

But I hope that the world, fans, sponsors, etc. take the attitude of Didier Drogba, the striker for the Ivory Coast, when he says:

“People have an opinion of Africa and it is not so good, but we have to let sport unite us all…They see us as being behind the rest of the world in financial and in sporting terms, but this year give us a chance to show people a different Africa. “Africa has some problems, we all know that, but we all have a chance to make 2010 the special year that puts this continent on the sporting map forever. We have this Africa Cup of Nations and then there is the big prize of the World Cup.”

Here here.  The World Cup is Africa’s games, not just South Africa, and has the potential to elevate the Continent as a whole.  I just hope that the opportunity isn’t lost, that the rest of the African Nation’s Cup brings joy, and the world’s game can be fully celebrated in Africa. May we all unite around the Togo national team.

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