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Live By The Sword, Die By The Sword

Stuart White

The World in Black-N-White

100 years ago, just after the end of World War I, the only advertisements people were exposed to would have been black and white newspaper ads and some hand-painted promotions on building walls, those being the only media options available. 

However, little did anyone, not least the advertising industry, know that a promotional revolution was just around the corner, with the looming advent of the radio.  Unsurprisingly, it was in the United States, the future Mecca of all-out advertising, where the potential of this new option was first realised and thus it was that the ‘soap opera’ was born, quite literally a means whereby soap powder and similarly suitable domestic cleaning product manufacturers , began to sponsor radio serials which aired during the working day, clearly aimed at the woman of the house, at home attending to domestic duties while her husband was out earning the family crust.

By the close of the 20th century the advertising industry had moved on apace.  Post World War II, television came into its own, magazines were almost universally printed in full colour, billboards were commonplace and ads were aired in every conceivable place – on the sides of buses, written in the sky, flashed up in neon and as the New Millenium dawned, the advent of the worldwide web threw up dozens of new media opportunities hitherto undreamed of.

Today, make no mistake, advertising is big business.  Major corporations such as Coca Cola and Lever Brothers, set aside mind-boggling budget amounts to promote their products by every possible means.  We are all bombarded daily with a plethora of ads from the moment we wake up and check our smartphones through streamed news and entertainment, to social media, not to mention the mainstream media and static and moving promotional platforms.  All day and every day we are exhorted to buy this and try that – is it any wonder so many people are drowning in credit card debt?

And the history of advertising has thrown up some hugely successful client campaigns.  The aforementioned cola company is renowned for its catchy phrases and memorable ad campaigns which have successfully kept the brand at the top of its soda tree for decades.  Similarly De Beers, through successive campaigns of clever advertising, turned the diamond, essentially just a useless piece of pretty carbonaceous rock, into a highly desirable, highly prized thing of beauty, effectively pushing up the price of the gems to a cost completely out of synch with its total lack of functionality.

There have also been spectacular ad fails too   World-famous Budweiser beer appeared to be encouraging date rape with a campaign for Bud Light for which the slogans read ‘The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night’ &   ‘The perfect beer for whatever happens’, suggesting that it is for a ‘certain type’ of a woman who is carefree, gets drunk and doesn’t care what happens to her.  The product was backed up by a Twitter marketing campaign entitled #UpforWhatever. Surely someone at Budweiser should have realised this campaign was going to be doomed from the beginning?

Then there was the gaffe by Walkers crisps.  It was a good idea on paper. Tweet a selfie using the hashtag #WalkersWave for a chance to win a ticket to the UEFA Champions League final. The company then turned the selfies into a video featuring football player Gary Lineker holding the submitted picture. So far, so good. And then…Apparently, there was no monitoring the selfies that came in and pictures of mass murderers, sex offenders, dictators and others went through which were later published by Walkers Facebook account. Ouch!

Even the biggest brands are not immune to such spectacular fails.  In 2016 McDonalds thought it would be a good idea to adopt the moral high ground with a campaign bringing up an issue their customers really didn’t want to deal with when ordering their burgers – terrorism.  The fast-food giant launched a series of billboards with a message about incidents including 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing, all under those famous golden arches. McDonald’s was quickly accused of capitalising on the tragedy and the campaign was consigned to history.

You’d have thought other brands might had taken heed with that last bomb – pun fully intended – but apparently not.  Only just over 2 weeks into the year but many have already condemned Gillette's latest online ad as the worst ad of 2019 with one pundit labelling it "vindictive” and “accusatory”.

Tapping into the #MeToo movement, the shaving company's new advertising campaign plays on its 30-year tagline “The best a man can get”, replacing it with “The best men can be”.  It features news clips of reporting on the #MeToo movement, as well as images showing sexism in films, in boardrooms, and of violence between boys, with a voice over saying: “Bullying, the MeToo movement against sexual harassment, toxic masculinity, is this the best a man can get?”  It goes on to encourage men to hold one another accountable for their behaviour.

Uploaded onto YouTube, the ad attracted 400,000 ‘dislikes’ versus about 100,000 ‘likes, or only 1 in 4 viewers.  Television personality and journalist Piers Morgan said on Twitter: "If Gillette made a commercial predicated on women being bad & this is how they can all be better… the same radical feminists loving this ad would go nuts.’  He has hinted he will no longer be buying any Gillette products.  Others also have vowed to now only use rival Schick, posting videos on Twitter throwing their Gillette razors in the rubbish.  


On its website Gillette, which also owns Wilkinson Sword blades and is part of the global Proctor & Gamble brand, said it was time brands acknowledged the role they played in influencing culture.  "As a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man,"

Hmm.  As one critic opined, it’s lucky women also buy razor blades’, implying that it may be driving away its core sales base – men!    Another tweet complained that it portrayed most men as ‘would-be sexual abusers & creeps’, which would  certainly appear to be a good way of trashing most of your core customer base. If Gillette survives this campaign in terms of sales it will be a minor miracle.    Or to put it another way, it’ll be a very close shave!

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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