Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Advertising Standards Authority's batty decisions

Friend & King
Dear Mervyn King President of the Advertising Standards Authority,
        As a former Judge I thought you would be the best person to explain how your Authority (ASA) can come to two different decisions on virtually identical facts.
BAT's billboard - sorry wrong pic
         Last year complaints were made to the ASA that British American Tobacco (BAT) was using a clever ploy to bypass the law that bans tobacco advertising in South Africa. It had billboards on major highways exhorting people not to buy illegal cigarettes. They carried the fearsome warning that this may fund hijackers and armed robbers.
        Your ASA sidestepped the real issue and latched on to the bit about hijackers and robbers. It ordered that the ads should be pulled because BAT could not prove that this was true.
         Fast forward to this year and it had a complaint from Charles Maggs, myself and Tom Kallis. A small point perhaps, but both these gentlemen were given the title of Mr while I was just plain Jon with both my first and surnames spelt incorrectly
        I suppose you can’t expect Watchdogs to be given a title can you?
        Great minds evidently think alike as we all felt that BAT was at it again (see Smoke & Mirrors – cigarette adverts by another name on my blog); this time by putting an advert, similar to the billboard ones, in newspapers.
         BAT did its best to spread alarm once more by telling readers that over R3-billion was lost in tax revenue (it forgot to mention the billions lost through the devastation cause to people’s lives by smoking) because people bought contraband cigarettes.
It then warned: But the price you could pay when smuggled cigarettes bring crime syndicates into your neighbourhood may be far, far higher.
       Was this message any different to the one on the billboards? Could BAT substantiate this statement?
         No, of course it couldn’t.
       Yet this time your ASA didn’t bother about this aspect in dismissing our complaint completely.
It made matters worse by waffling on about having taken into account its Code of Conduct which stipulates that Advertising should not contain anything which might lead or lend support to criminal activities, nor should they appear to condone such activities.
       It then pathetically revealed that as it was not its job to decide on the legality of adverts of this kind it was best to pass the buck to the Department of Health that administers the Tobacco Products Control Act.
Dying for a fag
         Well, as we all know that Department has been very successful in running every public hospital in South Africa into the ground, so it’s hardly likely to be bothered about questionable cigarette ads.
BAT’s answer to the complaint was that is was not promoting smoking. Heaven forbid that a tobacco company should do that. And the campaign did not advertise its products. No, only its name British American Tobacco, which in itself advertises tobacco.
         What’s the point of such a week kneed ASA if it can’t even make a ruling in accordance with its own Code of Conduct?
         Surely at the very least the BAT newspaper ad might have supported illegal activities (advertising cigarettes) and it certainly appeared to condone such activities otherwise the three of us would not have complained.
         So didn’t the ad fall well within the ASA’s definition of what Advertising should not contain?
             Just asking,
         Yours faithfully,
         Jon, Mr to the ASA, the Consumer Watchdog who doesn’t win them all, but that doesn’t stop him snapping at heels CONTINUOUSLY.

Buy my book 'Where have all the children gone' on Amazon Kindle  It's a thriller with an underlying love story that defied generations of Afrikaner/  English prejudice.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Lesson according to Jon

Dear Easter Bunny,
         Where were you when you were needed this Easter?
       My brother Anthony and I wanted your help to hand out Easter Eggs to the poor in Masiphumelele (see Cape Town's Tourist Dump), a Black township not far from my home in Cape Town.
Entrance sign speaks volumes
The name means We will succeed in Xhosa. But sadly there’s not much sign of that in this sprawling collection of run down houses and tin shacks where 38 000 people survive some how.
As you were nowhere to be found, the two of us had to do it ourselves.
Typical street
Were you testing us? In South Africa many Whites have never been into a Black township for fear of not coming out again. They associate them with thieves, rapists and murderers who are waiting to get their own back on Whites for what they did to them under the all White apartheid government that was replaced by a Black one 18 years ago.
We thought that one of your Black, floppy eared relatives would blend in far better than two six foot, something Whities.
Anyway as it turned out it was fun for us two fossils – to begin with anyway. 
It didn’t take us long to learn that humans behave very differently in a group compared to when they are on their own. And the principle remains the same whether they are adults or little nippers just starting out in life.
We had about 100 eggs to distribute and the aim was to make them go as far as possible – in other words one each, for small children only.
Driving through the narrow streets we stopped here and there when we saw little ones by themselves or with a grown up relative. That’s when we got a polite Thank you, as we handed out the gifts through the window of my car.
But as soon as a crowd gathered it was every boy and girl for himself with the biggest ones pushing to the front and returning shortly afterwards to try and grab another egg. If there were any Thank yous us Fairy Godfathers would not have been able to hear them above the racket.
Our first experience of this mob behaviour was when we stopped outside a playground and the children initially lined up in an orderly fashion. But that didn’t last long with arms coming from all directions like a giant octopus doing its best to thwart our one per child policy. On this occasion we had the steel boundary fence between us and the kids to help maintain a vestige of order.
A few streets away another mass of pleading, waving hands enveloped our car. Several children climbed half way into the open window on my brother’s side and clung to the door as I started slowly driving away. They gradually dropped off as we went a little further.
Having learnt our lesson we gave the rest of the Happy Eggs away to individuals whose friends had to be disappointed if there was any sign of a group developing.
Surprise, surprise we left that Black township richer for the experience with our lives intact; still in our own car and with our wallets and cell phones still on us.
Our relief was short lived however. I’m writing this to you from Cape Town’s, Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison. It’s no picnic I can tell you. But if we live through it we’ll be able to say we were in the jail where Nelson Mandela was once incarcerated.
You see in this wicked world two old codgers can’t be seen in a poor area handing out sweets to little children without being paedophiles. That’s a given.
So Easter Bunny it looks as though you’ll have to do the job yourself next year.
Miserably yours,
P.S. I hope this gets passed the prison censors.

Buy my book 'Where have all the children gone'on Amazon Kindle  It's a thriller with an underlying love story that defied generations of Afrikaner/ English prejudice.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Augusta, Champion Chauvenist Pig

Too many fingers for that sign
Dear Silly Billy Chairman of Augusta National Golf Course,
         Oops, sorry I’m behaving like a stupid woman. I got the spelling of your name wrong but not the meaning. It’s Billy Payne isn’t it?
         I’m sure you’ll agree with me that things have hit a depressing low in America when women don’t know their place in the land of the free.
       You would think Virginia ‘Ginni’ Rometty (now known as ‘Uppity’ Rometty) would have known better than to complicate your life by becoming IBM’s first woman Chief Executive shortly before this year’s Master’s tournament began at your club.
        To make matters worse she’s a beautiful, dizzy blonde. She’s got brains as well and no man likes that.
Has the woman no shame? Just because IBM has been one of the main sponsors of the Master’s does she now think that she can become the first woman member of your club?
Everything was fine as long as there was a man at the helm of IMB. But nearly 80 years of chauvinist pig tradition would be for nothing if you were to allow Ginni to break the spell at your stuffy club.
It just wouldn’t do old boy. We’ve never allowed them to become members before and there’s no reason to start now.
It must be satisfying to head an exclusive clan that was founded on solid grounds of good, old fashioned prejudice aptly put into words by your co-founder Clifford Roberts when he said, "As long as I’m alive golfers will be white and caddies black."
That’s only right. You couldn’t have Whites carrying those heavy bags could you?
It took 48 years before you racialists abolished the rule that players had to use the club’s Black caddies.
Women and Blacks are in the same inferior category presumably.
How long is it going to take you and your members to hum and haw before you let women in? No wonder you don’t want to talk about it.
Billy I hope you and the rest of your 300 odd members haven’t got one of these unacceptable females or even worse a Black woman at home as a wife?
Wait a minute I see Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, two of the world’s richest men are on your member’s list. How do their wives Belinda and Susan feel about being stamped second class citizens by the Augusta Golf Classification Board?
It’s ridiculous to think what a fuss you Yanks kicked up about South Africa’s apartheid regime that kept the Blacks very much subservient to Whites. But even that disappeared 18 years ago.
I knew we shouldn’t have given a Green jacket to that Black chap, Tiger somebody or other just because he won the Masters four times. They don’t know how to behave. Look what he’s done to decorum, one of our founding principles.
He’s now more famous for that, ‘You can’t see the Woods for the birds’, joke than anything else.
You had to publicly admonish him for his sexual exploits which were splashed all over the world. As you rightly said he ‘disappointed all of us and in particular was no role model to our kids and grandchildren.
(Thinks: Discriminating against Blacks and women is the role model to aim at)
It’s just as well our winners can’t take those jackets with them. Imagine what it would do to our name if doing it dressed only in one of them became the latest kinky, sex fad.
On top of that this chap was fined for spitting on the 12th green at the Dubai Desert Classic. Putting through that filth would be no joke?
And just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse he throws a tantrum on our own course at this year’s Masters, swearing and kicking his club because he shot a 75.
Billy you’ve got to do something about him now. Forget about the women who the media are going on about. This is much more important.
Fortunately our Ginni is used to you men feeling inferior to clever girls. Fortune Magazine has had her in its 50 most powerful Women in Business list for seven consecutive years ranking her 7th last year. Of course that was another version of chauvinism.
We couldn’t have her beating a lot of men in the list of the 50 Most powerful People in Business now could we Billy.
Phil Michelson & Charl Schwartzel
Anyway I told her it’s not a big deal because golf is not a game for real men. Can you think of any other sport Billy that allows you to move your ball to a better position for the most trivial of reasons when you’ve hit it there yourself in the first place?
And you complain about poor old Tiger, yet players are allowed to fiddle with their balls on the greens in full view of everybody until they feel comfortable.
Not being too familiar with the game I’ve always wondered how many strokes you are penalised if you get relief behind a bush – one or two?
Yours truly,
Jon, a formidable Pig Sticker.