Monday Musings 29 November: Fairy tales don’t end in the dark forest

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A shorter musings this week because as you can imagine, there is a lot going on. Am I allowed to use the word rollercoaster?  

I mean, we all woke up on Thursday morning (with literally 4 weeks to Christmas) feeling pretty good. By the afternoon the world had a brand new variant, and over the next three days we could only watch in horror and disbelief as South Africa’s tourism and hospitality sector lost an estimated R1bn in travel bookings for travel between December and March in about 48 hours.  

We’re angry (captured so powerfully in Dr Ayoade Alakija’s interview with the BBC World News), scared, and just so tired. What we needed was a cool head – and boy did our president deliver last night.  

Tourism had a seat at the table when the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) met on Saturday, and you could tell. Travel bans were at the top of the agenda and Cyril Ramaphosa was in an unforgiving mood as he literally listed the countries who have wronged us like some sort of presidential Arya Stark.  

But his speech was clear: there is still much to learn about Omicron. Until we know exactly where we stand, South Africans have to continue to get vaccinated, remain vigilant, mask up, and avoid gatherings. He’s introduced vaccine mandates into the conversation, praised our kick-ass scientists and called on countries to reverse their unjustified and unscientific decisions to restrict travel to and from Southern African countries. 

In his words: Every one of us has a role to play. We will not be defeated by this pandemic. We have already started learning to live with it. We will endure, we will overcome, and we will thrive.  

I’m not sure about you, but I woke with a bit of a fire in my belly this morning. Especially when I listened to a voice message from a friend living overseas, saying that today he is proud to be a South African.  

But I don’t want to get ahead of myself (the rollercoaster has delivered some spectacular lows). While we remain on Level 1, with no new restrictions in place, the situation will be reassessed in a week’s time. That flipping graph has to go our way.  

So, how does one get through the next week? Share trusted information, lean on colleagues and friends, stay far away from the comments section on social media, try and sleep, stay hydrated, watch a little Ted Lasso and remember to be kind to yourself, because, according to Ted, fairy tales do not start, nor do they end in the dark forest.  

And could we maybe, just maybe, have one slow news day? 

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Mindful Musings

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Marketing Musings 

It’s no secret. I love a good Christmas ad. Year on year, John Lewis’s highly-anticipated Christmas ad usually ‘opens the season’. And they’ve had some great ones. Buster the Boxer (and a whole cast of woodland creatures) is still my absolute favourite. Watch it if you need a lift.  

But this year’s ad feels a little flat. Perhaps it’s just me.  

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Actually it’s not. Mark Ritson, Marketing Week columnist, has written a scathing article which argues that Christmas advertising is drowning in marketers’ fake tears. It’s a great read. But if you don’t have the time, I’ll paraphrase: 

“Sorry to sound like Scrooge, but Christmas 2021 is shaping up to be a perfect storm of over-indulgent, faux-sentimental, hyper-emotional brand bullshit. And we all know why.” 

Eek. His argument is that the current crop of Christmas advertising is safe, generic and entirely predictable. It’s been a long year, but advertisers and marketers can do better. Like the V&A Waterfront who ditched traditional Christmas decorations back in 2019 for a giant rotating planet bauble and other sustainable installations.  

It was spectacular – and they’ve built on its core principles of sustainability, supporting local design and making a positive economic impact this year. Themed: Joy from Africa to the World, over 130 local designers, crafters, makers and artisans have used recycled and upcycled materials to transform the V&A Waterfront into a wonderland that tells an African festive story of peace and kindness.  

Another Christmas slam dunk? This beautiful, powerful and progressive ad from Norwegian postal service Posten, celebrating the fact that 2022 marks 50 years of Norway being able to “love whoever we want.” 

What the world was musing over this past week 

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Pangolin-friendly fencing project is a game changer! 

Electrical fence installations – prevalent on game reserves, private game farms, nature reserves and commercial livestock farms across southern Africa – are one of the biggest threats facing the Temminck’s Pangolin but this new ground-breaking project hopes to change that. 

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SA voted among the cheapest countries in the world for a night out 

Mzansi has just been named among the top five cheapest countries in the world for a night out, according to research by jewellery box. The team looked at factors such as the cost of a taxi ride, the price of cocktails and the average price for a double hotel room, to name a few. It found that South Africa, placed second, got 8.81 night out score out of 10.  

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Great Barrier Reef explodes into life in ‘magical’ spawning event 

The Great Barrier Reef has “given birth” in its annual coral spawn, which a scientist monitoring this year’s coral spawn off Cairns has called “the ultimate treasure hunt.” 

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KFC just launched a doughnut Zinger burger  

And we don’t know how to feel about it … It’s certainly different. But is it finger-licking good? If you’re brave enough to try it, you’d better get in quick. The doughnut Zinger is only available at Kentucky Town until 5 December 2021 as part of KFC’s 50th birthday celebrations

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Now, this is how you sell a Christmas tree 

Obviously, the world needs a smile. So when a Christmas tree farm in Utah went a little “Magic Mike” last year with a sassy viral video, they sold out their trees in just 11 days. It’s gone viral again this year, with more than 3 million TikTok views ahead of the company’s 22 November tree lot opening. 

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This edible chocolate cottage in France is what ‘sweet dreams’ are made of! 

Cottage. Parisian garden. Chocolate. Honestly, what more could one ask for after the last two years? Oh perhaps a chocolate course, which comes standard with a stay in this sweet, sweet cottage