Orchids and Onions – RocoMamas has great-looking fare and memorable punchline

Meanwhile, theft is not a great business model, Vodacom. And treating customers as prey will get you an Onion every time.

I think it is a great pity that comparative advertising is not allowed in South Africa because then consumers would have real information as opposed to marketing hype on which to base their brand choices.

Years ago, when McDonald’s launched in South Africa, I wrote a comparison piece on different burgers available in Joburg at the time. The new American import didn’t fare particularly well and I remember getting up the company’s nose when I described their offering as “the world’s only allmeat Marie biscuit”.

To be fair, I have never really been the target market for fast food, with the exception of a good pizza every now and again. That’s because I live with a chef.

But I think fast food is more about speed and less about quality just about everywhere.

That’s a perception quite a few people have, especially in these days of social media where it’s the work of seconds to take a photograph of a fast-food joint’s menu item and then another of what you actually get … and then post it online. There was a flurry of them recently and it didn’t look pretty.

What you see is, in many cases, not what you get at the take-out window. And that’s the theme of the latest sort-of-comparative-advertising TV ad for RocoMamas, which starts flighting today, but which I had a sneak preview of during the week.

RocoMamas is an old, established brand which has spread beyond our borders and has always prided itself on being a cut above normal fast food. And the ad goes straight for that marketing jugular, having a go at the advertising “lies” out there in the fast-food marketplace.

It does so in a series of cartoon-like takes, showing that whatever you’re buying, it ain’t food.

Then comes the RocoMamas offering: the sort of burger you remember from way back then … when you had delicious cheese and sauce dripping everywhere, when the ribs wallowed in tasty sauce, when the chips said “eat me”!

All of the people consuming the RocoMamas products seem slightly deranged … but in a good way, as they lose themselves in the pleasure of their meal.

The punchline is perfect: “We’re not normal”.

Especially if normal means artificial, farcical rubbish which passes for food.

Disclaimer: I did see the ad around lunch time and couldn’t help drooling.

Orchids to RocoMamas, ad agency Retroviral and to production house Egg Films.

Even a breakup on the phone can be traumatic, especially if it ends a long-term relationship. And it wasn’t for me, either, because when there is betrayal in any relationship, you get bitterness and anger.

I suppose I was pretty snappy with the Vodacom call centre person when she wanted to know why I was cancelling my contract.

How does one put it succinctly? You betrayed me after I had been loyal to you since 1997.

I am tired of you stealing my data, I told her, in reference to Vodacom’s insistence that it will only roll over your data package if you buy another for a similar value.

That is not at all in the spirit of the Independent Communications Authority of SA’s recent rulings.

Other networks are similarly niggardly, only rolling over data for an extra month or two at most.

My comments didn’t seem to surprise the woman.

No problem, she said. We will terminate your contract from the end of March (which was in two days’ time). Then you can go on to pay-as-you-go or port your number to another network.

Five minutes later, I had already been bulleted. And Vodacom had stolen my remaining 300MB of data. That confirmed to me I had done the right thing.

What Vodacom and other similar rapacious businesses in this country should start to understand is that, in the future, consumers are going to place ethical behaviour up with, or even above, product intrinsics.

And that instead of spending millions on “corporate social investment” projects to sanitise your image, you would be a lot better off just doing business honestly.

The one consolation about this split is that it has not broken my heart. I’ve moved on. I’ve said Y’ello to someone else.

But I won’t forget, Vodacom. Theft is not a great business model, Vodacom.

And treating customers as prey will get you an Onion every time.

Brendan Seery.

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