(Red) Oprah, two years late, but still (red).

THE idea behind U2 front-man Bono, and US talk-show host Oprah, 2006 (Red) Campaign was simple enough. Take a variety of hip store brands, and cook-up a deal that ties in with audience angst about third world children, and irrational fears that HIV is going to drive Africa into the hands of communism. A timewarp on SABC this month, introduced us to a weird new age style of Capitalist-toned, latter-day industrialised pseudo socialism, resulting in a strange new collission between highttech, clothing manufacturers and US-based labels.

Take the Motorolo Red mobile phone,( at $17 plus the contract), or the Converse sneakers that match the Bono-inspired Armani sunglasses and (red) watches. One could be forgiven for thinking Donald Trump had suddenly pulled on a Mao shirt, or perhaps a Madiba silk and converted us all to the cause of world peace?

In the capitalist version of communism, big brands rule the party and the party is only for those able to afford the entrance fee, purchase of any one of the (place your label here) products in the stores touted by (Oprah) and (Bono), that are making a fortune for both the cult of celebratywhile rooting out for the cause — the HIV-free, STD-outed, ARV-convinced masses.

How much of this inner circle of Winfrey and U2 is translating into sales and uber cash? Hard to tell in the global (networked) economy in which talk-shows are rebroadcast in two-years down the line, in the thirdworld, some 24 months after the fact and I guess if you don’t have satellite picture then you are completely out of the frame of pop references as far as executives are concerned.

So I’ll treat this as the premier for those folk who would conceivably benefit from this kind of thinking – and yes Alecia Keyes is beautiful, just wish I had known she had come all the way to Africa, to hand a $250 000 cheque to a Kwazulu-Natal hospital.

What is disturbing about the rebroadcast of an old episode that must have had an enormous impact on the way Americans see Africa, is how none of this actually leaked out the way Mandela’s 46664 campaign brought headlines. Perhaps this under the radar massive is peculiar to South Africa where five terrestial channels compete with 60+ digital satellite channels (installed in the homes of the rich and famous)?

Perhaps somebody should call up the SABC and inquire whether or not the episode was ever screened locally, or why no exposure for the RED campaign was ever flighted on any of the outlets that greet the masses? A billboard or two might have worked wonders at focusing us on the great capitalist experiment with communism.

Anyway, now that I’ve told you all this, expect a lot more from Jacob Zuma.


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