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November 29, 2018

An article by Jason Harrison, Founding Partner: Group Managing Director at M&C Saatchi Abel & Africa for Marklives.

 I was just a 24-year-old account executive (a title which my mother thought was very important), going about my business writing a very important contact report. Then he called — a very senior and important client who couldn’t get hold of anyone else, so he got put through to me by the receptionist. He was pissed off. Very, very pissed off.


Source: Pixabay

He used the first 10 minutes of the call to tell me how rubbish the agency had been on a job and then he used the next 10 minutes to then tell me how rubbish I was, too. He was swearing, demeaning and out of control.

“You have no right”

As the saying goes, “Cometh the hour, cometh the man,” and I just thought to myself, “I’m not going to be disrespected like this.” So I very calmly interrupted him and said, “You have every right to be angry, but you have no right to speak to me like this,” and I put down the phone on him mid-blowout.

Then I started crying.

My first job. Blown. I was going to be fired. The agency was going to be fired. I was in so much trouble. And what was my mom going to say, seeing as I was no longer an “account executive”? At that moment, my boss (and my boss’s boss) came in and, seeing my ugly crying face, asked what on earth was going on. I relayed the story, fearing the worst, but they simply replied, “Leave it with us,” and walked straight out.

Thirty minutes later, the same client phoned me. He said that my boss had in no uncertain terms told him he was completely out of line and was to phone me immediately to apologise, which he was now doing. I was stunned. How had this happened? How had they managed to turn this around?

The first lesson

It was the first, and most-important, lesson I have learnt as a suit in advertising: respect. It is the start, middle and end of being a great suit. When it exists, great partnerships, great work and great friendships flourish in an open and honest manner. When it doesn’t, everything is stillborn.

As a young suit, you come up against disrespect in all shapes and forms in this business because it’s easy to shout at the person in the middle. I have seen average suits disrespect themselves, their clients and their creative partners in these situations, all in the hope of “being liked”.

Your first job as a suit is not to be liked. It is to be respected. Then liked.


The very best suits demand and command respect. How? They know their client’s businesses better than they do. They know everyone in the client’s organisation, from the receptionist to the CEO (and remember all their birthdays, too). They study their client’s category and their competitors’ every move. They love, debate and share great ideas with them. They get under their skin. They build their foundation off a deep and smart knowledge of the business.

They obsess about the work

They share their passion and knowledge inside the agency, continually trying to align business problems and creative opportunities. They never try to curry favour or play both sides. They obsess about creating and making the best possible work, because they love the work more than anything else. They understand that the product that gets made in the end might not have their name on it, but it does have their indelible fingerprint on it. They build their foundation off a deep and passionate knowledge of the power of creativity.

They care deeply

They understand that both clients and agency people are human with the same fears and dreams. They know how to connect with all of them in a real and authentic way. They call them on their nonsense and help them when they are in trouble, using a persuasive mix of intellect and compassion to align everyone behind the same goal: the best possible work. They build their foundation off a deep and authentic human understanding of what makes people tick.

Will it get rid of the sometimes-rampant disrespect in our industry? Not always. But now it’s a decision, because it’s very hard to disrespect someone who has the confidence and knowledge that comes from a strong foundation and the right attitude.



April 5, 2018

An article by Wouter Lombard, Head of Talent at M&C Saatchi Abel for Business Live.

Brands like Banana Republic and Tiffany & Co have successfully featured same-sex couples and LGBTQ audiences in their advertising as part of an attempt to include gay audiences. And yet SA, famed for its diversity, continues to represent homosexuals either as clichés or stereotypes.


Source: Pixabay

Marketing budgets need to work extra hard these days, and the LGBTQ audience is a decidedly niche market. Put these two facts together, and it’s understandable why so few brands have created advertising specifically targeting this market. That’s fine. I don’t expect brands to reach out to every single market segment – funds simply don’t allow for it.

What’s not fine, though, is that our “normal”, mainstream media is noteworthy for its lack of inclusivity. This means that gay people – especially young gay people – seldom (if ever) see anyone they can identify with, either on screen, online or in print. Imagine how that feels. Apart from further isolating young people struggling with issues of identity, it also skews heterosexuals’ view of what it means to be gay, because they have very few references – and that only further fuels the stigmas.

In my opinion, one of the contributing factors in SA is that big brands want to play it safe. They’d rather avoid anything contentious, in case it alienates their audience. In this instance, it means keeping the LGBTQ community out of advertising.  And, when they do include the LGBTQ community, they often do so in a way that isn’t altogether appropriate. Gays and lesbians are either stereotyped (think of the flamboyantly camp Harold of the Netflorist campaign), or used as comic relief. Any attempt at normalisation gets buried under hype (remember how Sewende Laan’s onscreen gay kiss in 2017 made headlines?).

Most often, it’s treated as niche advertising for a niche market, appearing only in niche media – such as gay publications. Or, most egregious at all, the gay and lesbian characters included in advertising have little going for them besides their sexuality – it’s as if they have no purpose besides, well, being gay.

So, what needs to change? For a start, it would be great if a big brand with a big budget stepped forward to show the rest how it should be done.

As for how it should be done, the answer is, with authenticity. I don’t want “gay ads” aimed at me because I am gay. I don’t want everyday products repackaged with a big gay bow just so they can appeal to my “pink rand” (as marketers have referred to the value of the LGBTQ market). And I don’t want to have to seek out gay publications (usually of poor quality, because of a lack of funding) or go to gay events just to find messaging that appeals to me or see other people who are like me.

Instead, I want advertisers to recognise that being gay is the least interesting thing about me. I want normal ads, which just so happen to feature LGBTQ people. As soon as gays and lesbians are featured in an ad in a way that makes them appear to be separate to the mainstream community, they become stereotypes. And the advertiser loses out on a chance to tap into real, powerful insights about the community.

Ideally, we should see greater representation throughout all media, not just in advertising – especially in a country as diverse as SA. So, let’s start the conversation. Let’s throw away those stereotypes and start creating content that displays society in all its real, diverse glory. After all, it’s our diversity that lies behind the magic that is the Rainbow Nation. So, let’s not forget the rainbow flag either.


January 8, 2018

An Article by Diana Springer, a Partner and Head of Strategy at M&C Saatchi Abel for Business Live

The festive season is an opportunity for brands to create advertising that taps into family and human connections and makes consumers feel something positive.


Image source: Pixabay

It hasn’t been an easy year for retail, and festive season trade can make or break a company’s results. In the past few weeks a number of UK and US brands have released their Christmas campaigns, including Amazon, M&S, Debenhams, House of Fraser, and of course the annual John Lewis blockbuster.

So far these campaigns have included big budgets, big directors, huge tracks, Paddington Bear and a monster under the bed. Most have been a little disappointing, perhaps, with few new story lines or insights, other than Tesco’s “Everyone’s Welcome” reflection of diversity and the celebration of sisterhood by both Boots and House of Fraser. Like them or not, their one commonality is that they’re all entertaining and full of emotion.

What can we expect from local brands this year? Will we have to endure more of the same heavily promotional festive ads and plenty of products packed into a 30-second television commercial ending with a promotional tag, all wrapped up with a remix of a Christmas jingle? Or will we be treated to some more emotional work?

Black Friday exposed consumers to lots of big sales and “door busters” adverts; and as much as I love a sale, the real question is whether an even bigger discount than before will be enough for a brand to stand out from the festive clutter, create an enduring connection or drive a repeat purchase. In these times a great price has become a right to trade, but beyond that, is there not an opportunity to deliver some emotional promotional work?

Mike Abel, CEO of M&C Saatchi Abel, is fond of reminding his staff: “We’re in the job of making the familiar strange, and the strange familiar.”  So, at this time of year, when much of the merchandise is commoditised, is there not an opportunity to drive preference with communication that really resonates?

Given the current state of anxiety in South Africa, I can’t help but feel that this festive season is a great opportunity for brands to create work that reminds us of our strength in community, that taps into the family and human connections that this time of year allows.

While I’m not a huge fan of local “nostalgia” work, perhaps now is the time for a big SA retailer to create work that makes us feel something positive or unifying.  Some good old-fashioned storytelling, perhaps; but authentically South African and not a sunny version of a European Christmas.

The brands that will win this season will offer not only deals to excite the wallet but stories that engender a sense of hope and positivity, delivering not only great Christmas trade but some equity to last long into the New Year. Takealot’s latest television commercial, a heartwarming SA story about the joy of giving, is a good example.

With online sales forecast to break the US$100bn mark in America this year it will be interesting to see how many South Africans shift their spend to take advantage of the amazing value, choice and convenience being offered online.


October 24, 2017

An Interview by Mike Abel for Wanted Online

Mike Abel treats us to one of his deep and meaningful Q&A sessions with Cape Town artist, Pierre Vermeulen, whose work mostly involves gold leaf, sweat and doing drag.

Describe the colour yellow to somebody who is blind.
For a warm yellow, stand in the sun on a hot day. Feel the top layer of the skin warm up and follow the heating of each consecutive layer. The smell of a yellow freesia can also be yellow.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your CV alone?
I do drag, her name is Rene Sans.

What are you known for?
Art wise: Gold panels, sweat and hair.

Teach me something I don’t know in the next five minutes.
Get present! Set a timer for 5 minutes. Sit cross-legged with your hands gently on your knees or lap and eyes closed (even better with an eye mask). Take note of your breath entering and exiting your nostrils. Try not to verbalise the action or count the breaths. Just observe the action as it is without liking or disliking it. When a thought comes to mind just allow it to pass by, by bringing the focus back to the breathing. Take harder, yet calm, breaths if you find it difficult to feel the air moving past your nostrils at first. When the timer pings, take a moment to feel your calm body and mind.

What inspires you?
Moments in which I’m completely present. The clarity of a meditated mind is incredible. My partner. Drag queens and Diskotekah. Time in nature. Nutrigenomics – eating according to your genes. Raw chocolate – eat a whole slab and feel the rush. And obviously good art and good conversation.

What’s the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
Nocturnal Animals by Tom Ford. I’m a fan of his debut film, A Single Man. Not the intensity I expected! Yoh!

What was the last gift you gave someone?
Amanda Lear’s record Never Trust a Pretty Face.

What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
I endlessly ramble on topics concerning the human condition. Especially people’s perspective of themselves and how they see themselves fit on earth. I recently read the books Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari. It expanded my understanding of the human-earth-relationship. I also sing a lot, stretch the vocals – at the moment it is Erasure in the 80s.

You’re a new addition to the paint box. What colour would you be and why?
At the moment it is probably verdigris. It is the final colour of the oxidation process on the sweat and gold works – especially in high concentrated areas of sweat. I like the idea of a colour developing over time as a chemical reaction when materials touch each other. Although the actual latest addition to my paint box is a couple of large tubes of black and white oil paint.

How do you handle criticism?
By observing it. Getting upset about critique only wastes your own energy that can lead to health issues. So it’s really your own doing. Stay healthy and observe it.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I slide out of bed to meditate for about 40 minutes. And then a bulletproof coffee.

Tell me about a time you did the right thing and no one saw you do it.
Saved goslings off the freeway. It was a quiet night and I wore dark clothes, so not too many people saw me.

What do you worry about, and why?
I try not to worry, but there are so many things to worry about. Especially climate change. The displacement numbers of people and wildlife in recent years have escalated and will only get worse: Extreme weather conditions of drought and flooding, desertification and ocean dead zones. Nuclear weapons are still being made, oil drilling is booming and everything is being wrapped in plastic.

Things are not looking promising at the moment unless a big change is made. Actual change. Not small finicky change – we need a change of perspective, to live along with nature. People are hoping for someone or something to bring the quick change and fix it when change is very accessible within yourself. We have to strive for greater collective enlightenment and aspire to increase the scale and scope of human consciousness.

I think it has got a lot to do with a warped fundamental viewpoint of the world. Many hold the view that they came into this world when actually everything and everyone came out of this world.

They view themselves as alien to the planet they come from and need to be defended from it – thus don’t respect it. This inspires self-disrespect as you ‘other’ yourself from the natural world.

Most people don’t even understand how much self-hatred they have accumulated and this gets projected outwards. Without respect for the world, this includes animals and ourselves, we won’t be able to live in harmony. For too long people have been trained lived the greedy way, with complete disregard to the laws of nature.

“When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in the bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.” By Alanis Obomsawin

How do you define success and how do you measure up to your own definition?
To be a beneficial human for the earth and its beings. Nature is very successful, which I try to follow.

Give me an example of when you failed at something. How did you react and how did you overcome failure?
Being late has always been one of my failures. I feel terrible about it for a bit, acknowledge it and then get better for a while until a glitch forms in the new habit.

Would you rather be liked or respected?
We don’t have to like everything and everyone. Differences (dislikes) are what drive new innovative ideas. We do need to respect each other to live together.

What is the last book you read?
Homo Deus, a Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari. I recommend it to everyone. Perhaps read Sapiens a Brief History of Humankind, by the same author, first.

If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
Do, don’t, ought to and should.

What makes you angry?
S.N. Goenka said: “When I generate anger, hatred, ill will, or animosity, I am the first victim of my anger. I am the first victim of the hatred or animosity that I have generated within. First I harm myself and only afterwards do I start harming others. This is the law of nature.”

What was the biggest risk you ever took and what did you learn from it?
The concept of risk is very important in expanding your life perspective. It’s stepping into the unknown, a space of new wonders. With all these internet algorithms curating our lives I think risk taking is even more important. Otherwise, you will become a whirlpool of your old self within yourself. Same-old-same-old. I don’t remember where I heard this, but it always reminds me to re-evaluate when I’m hesitant to change: Most people die after their studies but the body only gets buried at 75.

What’s your most significant project? Tell me about it, what did you get/reach? How?
You have to start with yourself and expand outwards. Existential crises have been a hobbyhorse of mine growing up. So to have found a way of life that makes sense to me was a significant change of path. My first Vipassana meditation course. You meditate for over 100 hours in 10 days, talk to nobody and repeat the same pattern of living for 10 days. No form of stimuli like books, notepads, obviously no phones, no nothing. Only yourself with your mind. I learned to understand my mind better and experience how powerful it can be. You rewire your brain’s perception of craving and aversion by learning not to react to it, but to observe it and see the sensation pass by. If I can recommend only one thing to everyone it would be to go on a Vipassana 10 day course. It’s very tough, but literally, life changing.

If you were a brand, what would your motto be?
I have two. The first one is a quote by Lao Tzu: “Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?” The second one is: Stand still and rot.


September 20, 2017

An Article Written by M&C Saatchi Abel’s Partner: Talent, Wouter Lombard, for The Media Online


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After spending my first 10 years in advertising working in account management, I moved into the people and HR space as Partner: Talent for the M&C Saatchi Abel group of companies in 2014.

One of my biggest priorities is to find and attract the very best talent for our agency. I’ve spent many hours and days reviewing every CV sent to our office and interviewing hundreds of prospective candidates.

Right from the start, it shocked me to discover that in this industry, ‘creativity’ seems to be reserved for the select few, as only designers, art directors and copywriters bring to interviews a portfolio of work that they have delivered against client briefs. After four years of reviewing CVs and conducting interviews, I am yet to see a strategist or a suit (as someone in account management is also known) proudly submit their portfolio as testimony to their role in helping to deliver brilliant and imaginative creative solutions for brands.

Suits can talk for an hour about their project management and people skills and brilliant relationships with clients. A select few will even throw in their strategic smarts and, if I am lucky, their business acumen, proved by running a profitable account. Yet to date, no suit has ever pulled out their computer to show me some ads as evidence of their hard work. It’s almost as if their role and responsibilities are disconnected from the very reason their job exists in the first place: to get great work done. 

This tension becomes even more transparent when I ask them to describe the role of account management. Hardly anyone focuses their purpose around creativity; instead, I will hear things like “my job is to hold the relationship with, and represent the client, in the agency”. I bet there’s not a single creative who would want another client on the project (as clients play that role well enough). So why on earth would suits position themselves that way? 

… to date, no suit has ever pulled out their computer to show me some ads as evidence of their hard work. It’s almost as if their role and responsibilities are disconnected from the very reason their job exists in the first place: to get great work done. 

Mark Winkler, one of our creative directors, summarises the role of account management as having to “facilitate the best possible work”. I think it’s a brilliant lens through which to view the single-minded purpose of account management, because whether you write a great brief, implement a smart process, manage your budgets carefully, present with flair or even write an accurate contact report – it’s all in pursuit of the best possible work.

And, as such, every suit should equally be able to talk proudly about the work in their portfolio, because they played a critical role in making it happen.

One could even argue that everyone’s role in an ad agency feeds into this purpose – to facilitate the best possible work – whether it’s in finance, HR, strategy or account management, or as a PA. Because, surely, an ad agency is a creative company, not just a company with a creative department. 

So, if you do come for an interview, bring your portfolio of work and let’s start the conversation from there. After all, if it’s not about the work, then what’s it about?


September 4, 2017

An Article Written by Mike Abel for Daily Maverick

It’s spring! Let’s all focus on areas where we can bring our voices to bear. Where we can have influence. There is no greater tool than the polls. Each and every day in business decisions, in investing in ideas, in talent, in employment, in democratising education, in creating fair and equal employment opportunities. In supporting more charities. We each have far more power than we realise.

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I was at my holiday home last weekend, a beautiful spot on the water, just outside of Hermanus, enjoying the happy sounds of family and nature, when I opened that app with the little innocent white bird (definitely not a dove) on a gentle blue background. You know the one that you just touch lightly, so as to open Pandora’s Box to the gates of hell?

And there, sure enough, I read the expected, yet enraging news, the “First Lady” (both words a joke in this instance) of Zimbabwe, that bastion of democracy and preservation of human rights, had safely returned home.

That our government had provided disGrace with immunity for beating-up a young South African woman, with an electric cable no less.

We’d all by now, seen that chunk of flesh she’d removed from Gabriella Engels forehead as she mercilessly attacked her for simply hanging around with her wayward sons in South Africa. Not their home country, but that of the victim.

And so, I stopped hearing Mother Nature, the joyful sounds of my sons playing, no longer seeing the sunbirds sucking nectar out of the aloes outside my lounge. I felt my blood pressure raise, my heart-rate increase and was once again startled, believe it or not, by yet another unfathomable decision and action by our government.

Then, like a miracle, as I stared across the water, I had an epiphany – one that is probably bleedingly obvious to most of you, who haven’t been drawn into this deep and dark world of constant insta-news feeds.

I thought “why the fuck are you doing this to yourself Abel? You have worked bloody hard to be able to enjoy time away in this beautiful spot with your family – and here you are allowing Grace Mugabe’s departure to screw up your day, to rob you of this current happiness”.

And with this sudden realization, I found immediate peace.

I committed to 140 characters on the matter of the assault, and closed the app – for the day.

I then went for a glorious breakfast with my wife, to this great little hideaway spot called Milkwood, on Onrus beach.

There is a wonderful prayer written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” – and there, simply, is what my epiphany was about.

What I realised, is that no matter how angry and outraged I got, I could do nothing directly, about this outrageous betrayal of a South African citizen. That the words of our Minister of Police the day before were now utterly meaningless – or that we would finally do the right thing, having learnt from the Omar al-Bashir fiasco.

Learnt what….

And while there was absolutely nothing I could do directly to stop her jet from leaving, I comforted myself in that I try to do the small stuff I can, where I can, to hopefully bring a little more justice and consequence to bear, like so many of you reading this, given our NPA continues to play hide and seek with the country.

Has there been a Shaun sighting of late?

Where organisations such as Outa, SaveSA, Afriforum try tackle the madness – where our opposition parties fight the good fight, and independent media like Daily Maverick and their Scorpio, EWN, Amabhungane and a few others try to expose these stories so that active citizenry and hopefully, finally the courts, can help bring about positive change, in the complete absence of those paid by our tax money, to prosecute.

It is through supporting these initiatives, media organisations and NGO’s that we’ll eventually return our country to the one envisioned by Mandela versus the one created by Zupta.

But we need to be kinder to ourselves in the process, so as not to become emotional victims to the insanity that currently besets our beautiful land. But to have the calm, the strength and the resolve, to help where we can, and when we can.

Wilfred Owen, the great poet of Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori fame (we all remember that from high school in the 80s) who died in World War l had two truisms that he left behind for us, as gifts. The first is the English translation of the poem above : “That it is sweet and honourable to die for one’s country” which he said was the greatest lie of all. And the stresses of the current situation here, can cause one great anxiety and illness. A country poised for growth, currently ruined by corruption and cronyism.

A country that enjoyed 3% economic growth under Thabo Mbeki, now hoping to realise 0,3% growth in 2018 – this against the backdrop of 28% unemployment. Where tens of thousands of graduates, with huge student loans, are unable to get jobs, because of the lack of investment in South Africa – 100% due to a credible lack of faith caused by endemic corruption.

His other insight was “every night as I stood in trenches, I was faced with a choice. I could either look down and see my feet in the mud. Or I could look up and see the stars”.

And so, we all have choices. We can be outraged, as we should rightfully be, but then we need to make decisions that will dig us out of this mess.

There are many ways we can help this country, beyond also needing to actively support the fighters for truth, consequence, accountability and justice.

The only way to create economic growth, is to create an environment fertile to investment. This is where our focus must be. And populism isn’t a solution. It spells even greater disaster for our country.

Yes, we may have a political party currently in power, which hounds those who would hold them accountable, even from within like the heroic Dr Makhosi Khoza, Pravin Gordhan and many others who actually tried to save the ANC with their vote of no confidence. Those who would also try bring them to book, like Thuli Madonsela, Mcebisi Jonas, Vygie Mentor, Desmond Tutu and others, against a backdrop of massive fear and tangible danger.

But back to that lovely prayer by Niebuhr: “Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Let’s all focus on areas where we can bring our voices to bear. Where we can have influence. There is no greater tool than the polls.

But beyond that, each and every day in business decisions, in investing in ideas, in talent, in employment, in democratising education, in creating fair and equal employment opportunities. In supporting more charities.

We each have far more power than we realise – but let’s channel that energy into where we can affect positive change versus simply negatively impacting our health and general outlook.

Today’s 1 September. Spring. What better time to commit to growth and renewal.



August 2, 2017

An Article Written by Mike Abel for Daily Maverick

“Fake news” is not a new phenomenon, with lies and propaganda used to justify wars, royalty and the greatest atrocities of all time. If something seeks to divide, to foster hate or intolerance, there is usually a deliberate and evil agenda at play, and it is vital to dig further – despite your own fears and prejudices.

A lie told often enough becomes the truth” – ascribed to Vladimir Lenin

Many today lament the growing scourge of fake news but truth be told, we have always lived in a time of “fake news”.

It’s not something new, but dates back to the very beginning of “civilization” — if ever there were an interpretive word. fake news is possibly at the very centre of all religions, where seemingly impossible stories lurch from being espoused as hard fact, to metaphor and symbolism in order to find steadier grounds for believability.

Fake news can’t exist in isolation of gullibility and I can’t argue, today, with anyone having a phone being able to portray themselves as an expert on a chosen subject, the chances of being misled, are dramatically heightened.

The plethora of messages anyone is bombarded with in a day happens against a backdrop of insta-news, where many time-starved people are turning to social media channels like Facebook and 140 characters of Twitter to form initial opinions.

So, as our friend Lenin is quoted above, I’ve also heard it ascribed to Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao, a lie told often enough becomes the truth. Joseph Goebbels also had a similar version.

Looking at all the greatest atrocities perpetrated over time, a great lie usually can be found as the catalyst.

There are many great religions which have been around for centuries or millennia like Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and more. They surely can’t all be right? In some cases, or dare I say possibly even all, millions or even billions, have got it hopelessly wrong.

But the genesis of each, assuming there is a “mistake”, would be based on creating deliberate fake news.

Human nature, unfortunate as it often can be, provides a bountiful bed of rose

petals (like the poster for “American Beauty”) upon which fake news and prejudice will land, in gentle comfort.

You see, sadly people (mankind – if ever their was a euphemism) frequently like to believe bad of others. Be it the falsely accused witches of Salem and countless other examples of supposed witchery which still today bizarrely costs innocent women their lives in parts of the world, to any of the ridiculous, farcical and evil lies concocted to suit an agenda.

We saw this this play out on a grand scale as recently as the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and how the poisonous rhetoric of “cockroaches” saw almost a million or more Tutsi’s, murdered by their lifelong neighbours and friends, the Hutus. Goebbels, one of the great psychopaths of our time, understood well the power of fake news in creating a fertile environment for Hitler and the Nazis’ industrialised extermination of the Jews. He is quoted as saying “think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play”.

And isn’t that something we all know so well today. But his warped genius required people to literally abandon all they knew to be true, with neighbour turning on neighbour (not without then looting their apartments): where your trusted friend, doctor, lawyer was over time, deliberately turned into a non-human monster perceptually.

The level of gullibility was so extraordinary that even the classification of a Jew, being parent or grandparent, would have seen Jesus gassed were he alive (due to Joseph and Mary) and Ishmael (due to Abraham) and yet few, many of the church included, conveniently saw the obvious lie for what it was. Then it was extended to blacks and gypsies (the Roma people). How gloriously inconvenient it must have been to witness Jessie Owens laying bare the great lie of racial inferiority at the Berlin Olympics.

This was the same psychology that allowed various Crusaders to mow down “natives” in droves for God’s glory.

Consider King Henry Vlll firing the pope and ordaining himself Defender of the Faith simply because he wanted to go through a few wives, to the concept of “royalty” in and of itself, where, when not limited to fairy tales, is a factually impossible and ludicrous notion.

Now I actually like the pomp and ceremony of the royals and their palaces etc, but to factually believe it can be true that someone is royal, is naturally, idiotic. And it is indeed the very pomp and ceremony that is experiential marketing to enhance its believability. That is why palaces and houses of worship are built on such a grand scale and often with such opulence that how could it possibly not be in the house of God or a king/queen.

All the Holy Wars of various religions were and still are, based on fake news.

Getting a gullible species to perpetrate horror, big or small, in the name of a giant lie – wrapped in honour and glory.

We have seen a British PR firm, Bell Pottinger, hired and briefed by Duduzane Zuma and the Guptas, play to our emotions and fears, very much like Goebbels described the press being his “keyboard”. We have seen how a lie told often enough becomes the lingua franca.

Just look at how the United Nations and then major global news channels all report on and condemn occurrences differently to suit their various sponsors and agendas.

Look at how the BBC reports as compared to the Telegraph, Fox versus CNN. It’s farcical.

How on a smaller, yet possibly even larger scale in terms of impact, fake profiles are created to sow hate, havoc and division once again in our beautiful land. The horrors of apartheid and third forces, should have taught us all better.

We even recently saw how a fake letter was generated by a disgruntled customer to damage a corporate on a fake charge of racism.

Today, we need to start by believing nothing that doesn’t come from a trusted and verified objective source. I am eternally grateful for the independent media locally for creating a platform for the truth to be told. 

We need far better investigative journalism, we need unbiased and secure reporters to give us balanced views and stories. We need to educate our friends, colleagues and the next generations to sift and filter through noise until they find the truth. We need far less gullibility.

My rule of thumb is if something I read seeks to divide, to foster hate or intolerance, there is a deliberate agenda at play. Any information/news that has a negative angle on a religious, racial, gender or sexual orientation basis is usually seeking to drive an evil agenda.

In my experience, that’s usually the case.

Ultimately, and most scarily, what you choose to believe at a superficial level, is usually a reflection of corroborating your own fears, prejudice and insecurities – or you’d naturally choose to dig further.

Always be careful what you believe, because it talks to who you are.