Posts by Christine Miranda and Marian Berelowitz - New York

South Africa’s FNB allays World Cup anxieties with Shine 2010


South Africa has invested several billion dollars into hosting the FIFA World Cup, in large part to boost its image on the world stage. The country is highly motivated by “reputation-anxiety,” says South African journalist Mark Gevisser. But the spotlight holds a risk. As a senior government official told him: “When the world’s cameras are trained on you, sure they pick up the feel-good stories … but they also look for trouble—which is not difficult to find in South Africa.” (Case in point: This AlJazeera English broadcast, titled “South Africa crime clouds World Cup” on YouTube.)

To keep the emphasis on the positive, South Africa’s First National Bank (FNB) has been sponsoring the Shine 2010 campaign, which consists of a website and the usual social media platforms (Facebook, YouTube, etc.). The site (billed as “Home of the 2010 World Cup good news”) offers an upbeat blog, a Good News section, video clips, podcasts and guides for World Cup attendees. “We believe that confidence in South Africa only needs a home,” the About section explains. The idea is to “shape perceptions online” and inspire locals “to be active ambassadors,” FNB’s head of marketing told

For a brand operating in a relatively new nation (the post-apartheid era began in 1994) worried about potential embarrassment, FNB seems to be doing a good job not only positioning itself as a South Africa booster but giving citizens the tools to join in.

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AT&T ‘rethinks’ its image

AT&T’s new “Rethink possible” campaign represents a major push to convey a positive and innovative brand image. This commercial, for example, shows a gloomy suit-clad young man sitting on the roof deck of an urban tower; childlike animations happily frolic around the cityscape as “Pure Imagination” (as sung by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) plays. The voiceover asks, “Remember when you were 5? And anything was possible?” Another spot urges viewers to “See what’s on the other side of too far” and to “Play the angel’s advocate.”

As still-anxious consumers slowly recover from the recession, AT&T seems to be betting that they are looking for messages of inspiration, motivation and optimism. By associating its brand with a forward-looking, upbeat outlook, perhaps it can tap into a yearning for the days before the tough realities of the recession put a dent in many dreams.