Category Archives: Oscar Pistorius

Freedom Day 2014: reflecting on 20 years of democracy!

SA FlagIt was the interview with a Cape Argus reporter on Friday that made me reflect on how far not only our country, but also I personally and my business have come in the 20 years since we voted on 27 April 1994.  The Argus interview was focused on the progress over the past 20 years I have seen personally, business-wise, and politically.

My very first feedback to reporter Dylan was that 1994 was the first and only time that I was allowed to vote, having a German passport.  I do not recall how it was possible for all foreigners (by passport) to be allowed to vote, when it has never been allowed before nor since then.  I loved standing in a queue somewhere in Sea Point, being part of the exciting day that would change our country forever, and how much goodwill there was amongst South Africans whilst waiting patiently in the queues. Little did we know that the rest of the world waited anxiously for the outcome of the election, fully expecting a revolution to take place, unbeknown to us residents, with thanks to the SABC in ‘protecting’ us from this world scenario.

I moved to Cape Town in 1990, and transferred my marketing research consultancy Relationship Marketing from Johannesburg, changing its emphasis to Public Relations for food clients such as Baker Street Snacks, Bonnita (now Parmalat), Aylesbury, and more.  The late John Harrison was a favourite client when he was GM of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway.  Even Mark Shuttleworth was a client, before he became famous for selling his Continue reading →

Will Tourism survive two high profile court cases reflecting crime in SA?

bunte-oscar-pistorius-whale-cottage-portfolio-gun-745306312In the past two days Oscar Pistorius has featured in the 19h00 and 21h45 news broadcasts on ZDF TV, one of the largest German TV channels, the story no doubt reported by every other TV station in the country too.   Yesterday Shrien Dewani arrived in Cape Town by special chartered jet, to appear in court briefly for the alleged murder in 2010 of his wife, which he is alleged to have masterminded and paid for.  He has dodged being extradited to our country for more than three years, pleading that his alleged mental illness made him unfit to be extradited.  The story is being extensively reported by the UK media.  One must ask how damaging the coverage of both these alleged murders are for our tourism industry.

Of the two cases, the Oscar Pistorius one is the more serious one when it comes to its potential for its negative effect on the Tourism industry.  Pistorius described in detail in court to what extent he and his family have been the subject of crime, and why he carried one or more firearms.  Interesting was the report by Times Live yesterday, with research by Data Driven Insight (DDI) reflecting that the Pistorius case is dominating all news reporting locally, at 36%, followed by the Dewani case at 31%. Internationally, the coverage for the case between Monday and Tuesday was highest in South African tourism source countries, being the USA, the UK, Germany, Australia, and France, followed in sixth place by South Africa. DDI measures coverage by scanning 6,2 million ‘social media platforms‘, 60000 online newspapers, and 66 radio and TV channels globally.  The Pistorius case will dominate the rest of the week, as Pistorius testifies with his advocate Barry Roux, and then is cross-examined by State Prosecutor Gerrie Nel. Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 14 March

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The Oscar Pistorius trial TV live broadcast has already achieved 190000 viewers (period undefined) within a period of 8 days, but few advertisers are using it as a platform to market their brands.

*   Terroir will feature in a six part series ‘Seasons of Terroir‘, produced by Justin Bonello of ‘Cooked in Africa Films’, to reflect what it takes to run a busy restaurant in a competitive industry.  It will be broadcast on National Geographic (channel 181) from 25 March at 18h15, for six consecutive weeks.  The restaurant celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.  Broughton says: ‘After watching the series, I hope viewers will have a better understanding of what cooking in a modern-day, professional kitchen is all about. For one, it is not nearly as glamorous as it is often depicted in the media. In fact, it is tough, demanding and relentless. If someone is really committed to following a career as a chef, including the long, often anti-social hours, it is an exciting and rewarding choice. It has certainly been rewarding to be part of the growing gourmet culture in Stellenbosch – I can’t think of a better place to experience great food and wine than on a wine farm like Kleine Zalze…’ (received via media release from Manley Communications)

*   Bain’s Cape Mountain single grain whisky from Wellington has been awarded a gold medal at the 2014 China Wine and Spirits competition, based on its value for money. (received via media release from De Kock Communications)

*   Cape Town is celebrating its Carnival, with the theme ‘Imagine’  linked to Cape Town hosting World Design Capital Continue reading →

GrandWest Sweet Service and Charly’s Bakery Sour Service Awards!

Carlos Santana 1795604_10153872652095511_433576210_nThe Sweet Service Award goes to GrandWest for its professional handling of the crowds attending the Carlos Santana concert on Tuesday evening.  This Award is shared with William of Computicket in Camps Bay, who connected me with a customer in Sea Point, wishing to sell her ticket due to a knee operation the day before the concert, which had been sold out months in advance.  Not being partial to crowds in big spaces, I was surprised about how smoothly everything went: no traffic problems close by (compared to the Cape Town Stadium concerts), easy to find parking close by, an excellent quality seat, lovely seat neighbours, a very tough security man preventing anyone further back blocking the view of those sitting in the front row of our block by wanting to dance in front of them,  the incredibly low parking cost of R10, and the ease of leaving without any major traffic blockages.  The entrance boom did have a technical problem as we Continue reading →

South Africa wins and loses an Oscar in one week! Will it affect Tourism?

It is ironic that the Valentine’s Day shooting of model Reeva Steenkamp by her boyfriend and Olympic and Paralympic hero Oscar Pistorius should have happened so close to the Academy Awards’ Oscar presentations, for which M-Net had contracted Pistorius as its Oscar presentation broadcast marketing icon. Thankfully, South Africa received fame at the Oscars, for the Documentary ‘Searching for Sugar Man’, which was largely filmed in Cape Town, and tells the story of Capetonian Sugar Segerman’s search for forgotten American singer Rodriguez, being wonderful free marketing for our city to all who have seen the movie.  The question that the Pistorius case raises is what damage it is doing to tourism to South Africa generally, and to Cape Town specifically, with the Oscar Pistorius story making world headlines, in such leading publications as Bunte and TIME.

Bunte is one of Germany’s largest cirulation magazines, with a readership of 4 million, and featured the Pistorius story on the front cover of the 21 February issue. The front cover caption murder due to jealousy’ links to the article in the magazine, which names TV series ‘Tropika Island of Treasure’ co-star and singer Mario Oglo as the main focus of Pistorius’ jealousy.  It quotes extensively from the City Press reporting, which subsequently was found to be sensationalist and inaccurate, relating the (inaccurate) cricket bat attack on the victim. The magazine sensationally claims that the couple were the Beckhams of South Africa’, and that hardly a society event was not attended by the glamour couple – yet the couple had only been dating for three months, and were first seen at an event in November last year.  Crime statistics are quoted as 17000 break-ins per year, implying that wealthy South Africans have to barricade themselves in security villages like Silver Woods in Pretoria, in which Pistorius lived.  Pistorius’ Olympics performance is highlighted, and one senses that the magazine cannot come to terms with the sporting hero and the tragic occurrence on the fatal Valentine’s Day.  Parallels are drawn to the OJ Simpson case, and the defence team is likened to a marketing campaign‘.  Overall, the German Bunte reader should be unlikely to cancel his or her plans to come on holiday to the Cape, a relief as Germany appears to be the largest source of tourism to the Cape in this summer season. Fortunately not one of our German guests have spontaneously raised the issue with us  in the past two weeks.

TIME has the world’s largest weekly magazine circulation, with 25 million readers, of which 20 million live in the USA, according to Wikipedia.  Its latest issue tells the story of Pistorius’ rise to sporting fame, and his fall since Valentine’s Day, not too dissimilar to any other reporting of the tragic events.  What is damaging however is that four paragraphs of the article are dedicated to Cape Town (and the Western Cape), its tourism appeal sounding positive, but in the context of the tragic event it is severely damaging to our city:

And from New Year’s Day to Jan. 7 she posted regularly from a vacation she was taking in and around the city where she was born, Cape Town, with a few friends and the man she called “my boo,” who on Twitter goes by @OscarPistorius. On Jan. 3 she posted a picture of the sunrise taken from the balcony of the $680-a-night presidential suite at a spa hotel in Hermanus, 90 minutes southeast of Cape Town. Later that day she tweeted, “The chauffeurs in Cape Town hey. Nice!” and attached a picture of Pistorius driving an Aston Martin. On Jan. 4, name-checking Pistorius, her best friend, a private banker and a luxury-car importer who was sourcing a McLaren sports car for Pistorius, she tweeted about a lunch the five were sharing at Cape Town’s newest hip hangout. “Shimmy Beach Club!” she wrote. “Tooooo much food!!! Amazing holiday :)”‘

This is followed by Cape Town’s ‘dark side’, and this is when the article becomes really damaging for Cape Town:

To understand pistorius (sic) and Steenkamp, to understand South Africa, it helps to know the place where the couple chose to spend their holiday. Cape Town has arguably the most beautiful geographical feature of any city in the world: Table Mountain, a kilometer-high, almost perfectly flat block of 300 million-year-old sandstone and granite that changes from gray to blue to black in the golden light that bathes the bottom of the world. From Table Mountain, the city radiates out in easy scatterings across the olive, woody slopes as they plunge into the sea. Its central neighborhoods are a sybarite’s paradise of open-fronted cafés and pioneering gastronomy, forest walks and vineyards. Commuters strap surfboards to their cars to catch a wave on the way home. The business of the place is media: fashion magazines, art studios, p.r., advertising, movies and TV. Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy just wrapped the new Mad Max movie. Action-movie director Michael Bay is shooting Black Sails, a TV prequel to Treasure Island.

But while Cape Town’s center accounts for half its footprint, it is home to only a fraction of its population. About 2 million of Cape Town’s 3.5 million people live to the east in tin and wood shacks and social housing built on the collection of estuary dunes and baking sand flats called the Cape Flats. Most of those Capetonians are black. Class in Cape Town is demarcated by altitude: the farther you are from the mountain, the lower, poorer and blacker you are. Cape Town’s beautiful, affluent center is merely the salubrious end of the wide spectrum that describes South Africa’s culture and its defining national trait: aside from the Seychelles, the Comoros Islands and Namibia, South Africa is the most inequitable country on earth.

This stark gradation helps explain South Africa’s raging violent crime (and why, contrary to legend, Cape Town actually has a higher murder rate than Johannesburg)’.

The balance of the five page article is focused on our country’s ‘violent crime‘, and traces this back to the Battle of Blood River, the Boers building a laager to protect themselves against the Zulus. Similarly whites live in security estates, in modern day laagers, the article relates.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Rainbow Nation barely exists, despite our country being the benchmark for ‘racial reconciliation’, and ultimately still ‘South Africans live apart’, the article concludes.  What makes for fascinating reading is the close to 1000 comments to the article, which is attacked by many loyal South Africans for factual inaccuracy, and supported by a handful of what could be ex-South Africans. Very few international readers appear to have commented.

Gratifying to find is the link by HuffPost Lifestyle UK, which evaluates the media frenzy relating to the Oscar Pistorius bail hearing, introducing the article as follows:‘…could be forgiven for thinking that South Africa is the new Wild West, full of gun-toting, trigger-happy outlaws’.  Its writer Amanda Willard defends our country, having visited ten times already, puts crime into context, shares that tourism is growing, and recommends that tourists continue visiting South Africa:So don’t be put off travelling to this incredible destination and don’t be fooled by the media reports. The bark of the newshound is worse than its bite‘.

SA Tourism, Wesgro, and Cape Town Tourism have a challenging task in communicating that what was a crime involving a couple in a private home is not a reflection of crime in South Africa.  It also needs to highlight that tourists visiting South Africa generally, and Cape Town specifically, will be safe.  The problem is that neither Cape Town Tourism nor Wesgro are doing any marketing at all, let alone damage control to address this tragedy which has keen international interest, a saga that will be guaranteed to fill news headlines for months to come!  Mary Tebje, Cape Town Tourism’s communications representative in the UK, has written to Southern African Tourism Update, calling for an objective and honest response to South Africa’s new status as a gun-toting country, which may reinforce what many potential tourists to our country are already thinking, and will deter them even more from coming on holiday.  Our current tourists will be our best spokespersons, in relating that their holidays were safe and most enjoyable!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage