16 August 2006
South Africa should place the message used during the 2010 World Cup bid – “Africa’s time has come” – at the heart of its communications in the run-up to the event, says Government Communications CEO Themba Maseko.
Speaking at the first 2010 National Communication Partnership Conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Maseko emphasised the need to have a core brand for the first African World Cup through which both the country and the continent as a whole could be promoted.
He said research indicated that at least 80% of South Africans thought it proper to project the 2010 World Cup as an African World Cup. South Africa therefore needed to start building links with communicators from other countries on the continent.
Maseko’s comments were echoed by Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad, who told delegates that discussions on how the continent should work together for 2010 would be high on the agenda at the African Union’s next meeting in January 2007.
SA’s communicators, Pahad said, had an important role to play in ensuring that the soccer tournament would be remembered for decades to come “as an event that left our country and the continent more united and confident.
“We need to convey the message that South Africa is alive with possibilities and the continent with great opportunities.”
Countering negative perceptions
Negative international media reports about South Africa were also of concern, Maseko said.
“In 2009, on the eve of the tournament, we will be holding general elections … We will have to create an environment where political parties do not send out negative impressions during their campaigns, because it will influence international perceptions.
“The gap between foreign perceptions about South Africa and the real strengths of the country is narrowing – but it is still too wide. 2010 must be used as an opportunity to close this gap further.”
Maseko said that operational and resource plans for all aspects of the World Cup were in place, and that the government was working with all stakeholders to ensure that citizens owned the event.
The 2010 National Communication Partnership Task Team would hold workshops around the country to inform communities about opportunities available during the World Cup, Maseko said.
With only one-third of the three million 2010 match tickets available for South African soccer fans, South Africa needed to think beyond stadiums, as most fans would be watching the matches from “fan parks”.
While Fifa would exercise tight sponsorship control over the tournament, there would be “huge” advertising and branding opportunities at these fan parks, Maseko said.
Tuesday’s conference was the first in a series of 2010 National Communication Partnership Conferences, to be held annually over the next four years in order to help the country’s communicators build and implement a shared strategy for the World Cup.
It was hosted by the International Marketing Council of South Africa on behalf of the 2010 National Communication Partnership Task Team, which includes representatives from the government, business and the 2010 Local Organising Committee.
SouthAfrica.info reporter and BuaNews