Dear Hudsons.

HudsonsDear Hudsons.

I’m Sorry.

Today, I ended my 30 day detox and decided the best way to completely piss away my hard work would be to try out Burger King for the first time. The queues, as you well know, have been inordinate during the opening weeks of this mass-market marvel of excess consumerism. And, I won’t lie to you Hudsons, the bright red lights reeled me in and had their filthy way with me. As the tears streamed down my face and fell onto my deteriorating upper body, I did have a brief moment to reflect on exactly why it is that my soul feels so tainted at having frequented this house of shame.

As I stood waiting with all the other sad, sick looking faces for my order number to be called by the King’s heralds, I noticed that almost all of these once happy people seemed medically attached to their bottomless Pepsi – in what felt like a ritualistic, self-inflicted, cattle force feeding of refined sugar. The darkness in me began to emerge. I judged them, I judged them all Hudsons just as the same sweet anxiety-inducing carbonated bubbles of happiness trickled down the back of my throat…

“Order 256!” the call rang out. It was not my number Hudsons, I was number 143. What the hell happened to the 113 orders in between? Before I knew it the next call came down, “691!” WHAT!?! My anxiety grew along with that of the rest of the proletariat with which, by now, I had developed strong kinship. In an attempt to restore numerical sanity, I went to re-fill my cup. It just felt like the right thing to do. It came as naturally as if it were my very next breath. No luck.  “287”. Tens of seconds later, my number finally came as if sung by Josh Groban: “143 – you raise me up…” within split seconds I had forsaken my people and snatched up the brown paper bag like a wild beast and ran out gnawing at my straw. I barricaded myself in my car and began devouring what the King deemed fit to feed me.

It was at this moment that I caught a glimpse of my ketchup-stained-reflection in my rearview mirror, of the man I had become. The tears began to flow. How could I let this happen, how could I betray you like this? You have always been there for me. How could I fall so far from grace? How could I let human kind down like this?

Please find it within your heart to forgive me.

Yours,

Dylan

Poor Mrs. Fergs

Poor Mrs. Fergs. She travels all the way from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town to visit her beloved children, only to arrive and have her car broken into by a man who’s name is assumed to be “Joe P@ES!” according to the neighbor who spotted him in the act. A fair guess I feel.

Car break ins are not anything new for us South Africans, it has happened to all of us and as sure as death, tax and car guards it will happen again. I’ve noticed that we all follow the 5 simple stages of car break in grief:

  1. Denial: Typified by the following phrase, “No no no is that my car window? It can’t be, surely not, ag no man.”
  2. Rage: “Blerry crime and the government! I’m moving to Australia!
  3. Bargaining: “What do you mean it’s going to take 2 hours to replace the broken window? I have a meeting, please try do it quicker, I’ll pay extra.”
  4. Depression: “MY LIFE IS OVER I CAN’T GO ON!”
  5. Acceptance: I hate Australia.

Each one of us go through these stages during the course of the 24 hour period it takes to remedy this little hiccup of our reality.

Except if you drive a Renault. Poor Mrs. Fergs.

Renault owners get caught between steps 2 and 3 and sentenced by the French manufacturer to a mental Bermuda Triangle. It turns out the Renault don’t keep very basic stock within accessible reach of a market they operate in. We are not talking about a complicated piece of machinery here,  we are talking about glass.  It apparently takes 8 to10 working days to get a piece of glass from France. Glass, the same stuff that humankind has been making since about 3500 BCE takes two weeks to get to a customer who has spent in excess of R 200 000 with Renault. Disgraceful.

I have politely highlighted my feelings on this matter in writing to Renault customer care that I’ve copied for you below. I have only changed names to protect anonymity.

Hi Candice Jeffery

 Thanks for getting back to me quickly. I’m acutely aware that this is not your fault, in fact I’m willing to bet if it were up to you that you would assist in anyway possible. That said, perhaps you could forward this to somebody within Renault SA that might be able to make your job easier. 

 8-10 working days for a window is simply unacceptable. We live in South Africa, car break ins are a part of our reality, it happens often. Perhaps a brief Power Point with some stats may help tear your French colleagues away from their baguettes long enough to understand this with greater precision. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a fine croissant and beret as much us the next person, but I drawn the line when it comes at the expense of losing business. Let me put this into perspective, my Polo got broken into last month. I had the window replaced before 10am that same day. That’s less than two hours. If we assume an 8 hour working day, that means I could have my Polo window replaced 32-40 times over before your Champagne drenched friends could get your product to South African shores.

 The temptation from your corporate colleagues of course will be to spin some bureaucratic baloney about how the glass is special or optimal stock levels need to be maintained and such. You must be strong here Candice Jeffery, stick to your heart and call their bullshit, you are the one on the front line, not them. It’s a simple yes or no question. Ask them:

 ”Do we feel it is acceptable to make our customers who have spent over R 200K on our product wait 8-10 working days for a simple part, rendering their vehicle (of over R 200k) compromised at best and useless at worst. Yes or No?”

 If I were MD of Renault SA I would be embarrassed. But he’s not is he? He’s not, because he’s not the one reading this and you are. I empathize with you, I really do. Thanks again for getting back to me so quickly, perhaps you should run the company.

Regards,

Dylan  Dillon

Needless to say Mrs. Fergs will be “Driving the Change” back to the VW family very soon.

Poor Candice Jeffery.

Change is as good as a SCREW YOU!

It could only be something terrible to wake me from this blogging slumber. Something so dark that I dare even look you in the eye. Those of you who know me well will know that Dias Tavern in Cape Town is among my purest pleasures in life. Dias has been my double rainbow for many years now.

Our visits to Dias were down to a beautiful art. To the connoisseur it was like watching poetry write itself on a canvas of garlic with peri-peri paint. It would take your breath away, mine it often did. Ordering at Dias was like singing the lyrics to a song that you wish you had written yourself, only we did write those lyrics:

“Castle Lite Draught, brandy and Coke Zero.

One deep deep fried calamri starter.

Two trinchado with chips, medium rare.

And…

Two rolls.”

That rhythm and beauty has been destroyed!

I’m sorry to report that the aforementioned deep fried calamari is no longer the tender strips that we know and love. They are now as leathery as donkey ball rings, at the same cheeky price of R42. I don’t know what the going price for donkey balls are in our current economic climate but R42 seems a little steep to me, not to mention that “deep deep fried donkey balls” don’t roll off the tongue quite as nicely.

Dias Tavern, I still love you, but you have really hurt my feelings. See you on Thursday.

 

 

The Lord of Loyalty

Dear all brands and marketing teams.

Here is a money back guaranteed piece of free consumer insight: WE DON’T NEED ANOTHER LOYALTY CARD.  My wallet is currently bursting at the seams and sadly not with the half hand full of muesli that I have leftover from my December paycheque, but with cards of all shape, colour and genre.

How can I possibly get excited about another card that promises me a whopping one cent back on every rand I spend?  That’s right my friends, spend ONE THOUSAND RAND at Pick ‘n Pay and they will give you ten whole rand back… to spend at Pick ‘n Pay… on a muffin perhaps.  Yes, you are a Smart Shopper now.

There is only one way to make this work.  I submit the following scenario:

As I approach Pick ‘n Pay a gentle murmur will begin to brew from some women who appear to be a group of Swedish swimwear models, “murmur murmur… It’s him… murmur murmur… It’s really him… murmur… almost sufficiently endowed… murmur murmur… size isn’t really all that important to me… murmur murmur.”

As I cross the store threshold I am confidently greeted by the store security guard, “Mr. Ferguson, welcome back Sir” and with that a slow clap begins, breaking the deafening silence of anticipation.  The ruckus spreads from Lotto counter to deli where the deli staff halt mid chicken tetrazzini to come together (with the bakery staff) in a perfectly choreographed one minute rendition of Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance.

I must become the Lord of the Dance.

Fortunately my exceptional lack of talent is disguised by the exploding fire works against the back drop of ten thousand white doves in aisle 7 (toys and stationary).  As I crest the wave of Michael Flatley’s masterpiece I make my way to the tills flanked by flick flacking midgets and other suitable circus folk.  My basket of soda water, 4 soft rolls and small packet of Big Corn Bites is handed to me… by the Archangel Gabriel. As I reach the counter the cashier, Natalie Portman, gently but assertively whispers in my ear…

"Do you have a Pick 'n Pay Smart Shopper Loyalty Card, Mr. Ferguson...?"

*silence*

“YES! YES Natalie! I have a Smart Shopper card! I am so psyched to get one cent back on every rand I spend at Pick ‘n Pay, thank you Natalie! Thank you Pick ‘n Pay!”

Now, potentially I am asking too much of the retail sector, but is it really any more ludicrous than thinking another mother-phunking loyalty card will excite customers?  So here is your challenge, an imposed New Year resolution for marketing and brand people to use or ignore.  Please excite us this year, somehow, anyhow, please, I’m begging you.  Give us a real reason to be loyal.  I know you can do it.  Get Natalie Portman involved.

Here’s a clue, it’s not a loyalty card, or a flash mob.  It might start with something as simple as actually keeping the most basic of promises, for example putting at least the marked 40 grams of O’Grady’s into the packet.

Hugs,

Dyl

Tuppence a Bag

As it turns out many international tourists love Cape Town, can’t blame them really.  I know this because you will find most, if not all of them at the V&A Waterfront encouraging the Seagulls to become slightly more useless (and by “useless” I mean deadly and primed to do The Dark Lord’s bidding) than they already are.  Sven and his sunburnt cohorts seem to derive an endless pleasure from listlessly discarding various pieces of prime steak right off their plates into the mouths of these foul creatures, giving them a taste for mammal flesh I might add.  This is normally followed by the following comment “Diese Vögel nicht fressen unsere Seelen HA HA HAHA” which I suspect loosely translates into “Look at us, the benevolent kings and keepers of the winged HA HA HAHA”

But this is not the point I want to make today.  What I have noticed from some of our travelling friends is that while they enjoy countless hours playing with the pigeons, drinking in our spectacular views, wine and hospitality there is always one… Sven, who moans like a pudgy pimply back teenager about the speed of our Internet connection.

Well Sven, allow me to remind you that you are in fact in Africa, Dick Face.  You are lucky not to be eaten by a lion, now go put on a hat.

Anyway, enjoy your stay, please spend lots of Euros.
Hugs, Dyl

The Most Annoying Human Being on the Planet

I fly fairly regularly. Not like the majestic swan that you have come to know and love, but rather of the more standard aeroplane variety.  It is a terrible pity that the miracle of human flight can be ruined by the most annoying human being to ever live, walk, eat and sleep in our past, present and foreseeable future.  For the sake of brevity we shall call her “Sue”.

Dylan Ferguson Flying Swan

Majestic indeed. Courtesy of www.mikemet.com

Here is my account of flight BA 6409 from Johannesburg to Cape Town, written on the back page of Rob Stokes’ eMarketing book… This has no relevance to my story whatsoever except for the fact that it’s all very David Ogilvy of me, no butterfly though, so there is a good chance that this may amount to nothing.  *sad face*

At the time of writing this Sue is sitting behind me in seat 6A, I am in 5C.  I remember thinking to myself how tremendously close I was to the Business Class section, just one row away.  I don’t know what goes on behind that curtain. We know they get their own newspaper and the finest plastic champagne flutes that 79 cents can buy.  But when those curtains close we have no idea. I dream it to be a magical world where crunk juice flows freely, a world far beyond chicken or veg, a world of boundless opportunity. Just like Port Elizabeth.

Anyway, Sue is very excited about Young Daniel (sitting in 6B) coming to visit her and her friends in Cape Town for the weekend.  How do I know this?  Well, she is saying as much. I would like you to imagine Janice from Friends getting lightly beaten with a wild fog horn toting tabby cat and you will get a general sense of what I’m hearing right now…

“Oh my Gawd DANIEeeL! I’m like so excited…” At this point in language you would expect anybody to make some sort of progress with their sentence structure or at the bare intellectual minimum to simply stop talking altogether. Not Sue. “I’m  so, juss like so, so juss SO, like so so like… um… so EXCITED! ”

BLEEDING HAMMER OF THOR SUE, CAN I BUY YOU A METAPHOR!?

“Oh my Gawd! This chocolate is, like, amazing. What is this chocolate, what is it?!”

Young Daniel confirms that he does not know the name of the aeroplane chocolate but identifies it as a Woolworths brand.  A very keen eye from our Young Daniel having spotted the great big Woolworths “W” on the packaging.  The children are our future.

“DANIEeeL, but what is it called?! What iiis it Daniel?! Tell meee… ” Shockingly Young Daniel still does not know. “How long is this flight, Gawwwd, it’s so long… I’m bored, what game are you playing Daniel?” as she motions to Young Daniel’s PSP, admittedly it does look awesome.

The flight from Joburg to Cape Town is approximately two hours and ten minutes.  At this point we had been in the air for about one hour and three minutes. This information is no longer important because she is in fact singing now, or at least what I think is an attempt at song.  She has also hijacked Young Daniel’s PSP and is imploring him for help all in mid falsetto.

“I want your loving and I want your revenge… How do you jump Danieeel, I AM pushing that button, I am, I am, caught in a bad romance. Rah, rah, ah, ah, ah roma, roma, ma Gaga, ooh, la, la”

Just as the blood from my ears was beginning to dry, the gate to hell itself opened. Out of the black abyss poured the most paralysing litany of the most deeply stupid commentary to ever befall the good unsuspecting citizens of the sky…

“Daniel I’m bored. I want chips. Why isn’t he jumping Daniel? I’m cold. What should we do tonight Daniel, Daniel, Daniel? Gawd I was drunk last night. I drank like a million bottles of vodka. I’m never going to drink again, aah let’s go have drinks tonight. Ja ja let’s go to Tiger. Rah, rah, ah, ah, ah Roma, roma, ma Gaga. What am I going to wear?  How much longer Danieeel? What was the chocolate called?…”

My friends…  flight 6409 changed me.  I have never before been afraid of flying.  The nightmares keep coming and the tears have become real.

*double sad face, with a lifelong twitch*

The iPad – Marketing 3.0

Something interesting has happened. April 2010 changed the face of marketing, I would go as far to say that it has revolutionised it. To illustrate my point I have drawn up a highly detailed and accurate SWOT analysis for what seems like every brand in South Africa, here we go:

Behold...

STRENGTHS - We are giving away an iPad.

WEAKNESSES - We are giving away an iPad.

OPPORTUNITIES - We are giving away an iPad.

THREATS – We are giving away an iPad.

Apple has successfully eradicated the need for any marketing insight whatsoever, thank you Apple for solving the problems of lazy marketers everywhere. Here are some real world examples:

Employee: “Our third quarter sales are down Sir, what should we do?”
The Boss: “Give away an iPad”

Employee: “Our product is inherently flawed and inferior to the competition’s, what should we do!?”
The Boss: “Give away an iPad”

Soldier: “Rebel forces are advancing on the western frontier Captain, what should we do!!?”
Captain: “Give away an iPad”

Nurse: “The testicular haemorrhaging is getting worse Doctor!”
Doctor: “iPad stat, give it away!”
Nurse: “The testicle?”
Doctor: “No you fool, the iPad!”

Steven Tyler: “MY FACE IS MELTING!!!”
The rest of Aerosmith: “GIVE AWAY AN iPAD!”

Stick with the iPad solution for as long as you can friends, ride this wave all the way to world peace. I wonder if there is an app for that yet? I’d pay $1.99 for world peace. God, I wish I had an iPad.

Car Guards, the Machines and World Domination

I have important information for you.  It’s not often that I make ridiculously bold claims and today should be no different:  All parking paypoint machines are secretly owned by an underground consortium of car guards… and they’re coming for you.

Is that scepticism I detect in your voice…?

Well, the next time you find yourself at the V&A Waterfront dodging tourists and the man eating seagulls, pay for your R 12 parking with a R 100 note and see what happens.  Even though you already know, I will tell you.  The deafening cacophony of R1, R2 and R5 coins of your change descend upon you like an eternal hell fire of rapid gun shot.  As your heart breaks and the ear drums of small children burst, the daily wage of a Camps Bay car guard is now in your possession. That’s right my friends, your “I’m sorry I have no change” excuse that has long been the anthem of every non-pay parking lot and street side has just been obliterated in one fell swoop.  A rather brilliant piece of strategy, where car guards are not present, they do have allies.

Mr. President?

I feel I need not present any further evidence for my case because you know as well as I do that this is the behaviour of every parking paypoint in South Africa. I will leave you with these thoughts - what else do they control? Just how far do these puppet strings extend? Do they have gum ball machines as well? Cigarette machines? Are they building a Machine Army?  Or worse still are the Machines building a Car Guard Army? I’m scared.

Dear Simba the Lion

Dear Simba the Lion, Simba the Lion

Far be it from me to question the King, but I must bring something of grave importance to your attention Sire.  I am a humble man, a man that takes a simple delight in simple things.  One such delight takes the shape of the odd snack on your kingdom’s finest potato chip O’Gradys®. I am very happy to pay the handsome premium for this pleasure, money that no doubt fills the Royal coffers to the brim each passing year of Your Majesty’s reign.

But alas, this day I have been saddened and dare I say it, shocked to my very core.

Immediately upon parting with my 3 pieces of silver at my local merchant I knew something was amiss, an imbalance in our universe.  I rushed Sire, I rushed to find out what I knew in my heart to be true but was too afraid to admit. FRAUD Sire, “Fraud at the hands of His Majesty?!”  I thought, “Surely not.”.

Indeed the scale revealed it, my fear,  22 grams in a packet clearly marked 40 grams.

I wept.

22 grams Sire! For shame.  This is not the Kingdom your father had in mind when that monkey held you up on that rock.  This is not the Kingdom we fought for…

Paranoid Chicken

My iPhone completes me.

Yesterday I forgot my phone at home while going to pick up some lunch. Now, I estimate that the average time it takes for a Nando’s Cheese Burger Meal to be prepared is an acceptable 10 minutes.

So… you want me to just sit there without a phone and do nothing? Do nothing!? What if people I ignore in real life are uploading Facebook pictures of their pets or better yet, of their children eating porridge?  What if I miss out on an inspirational quote of pseudo wisdom? What if I miss a Tweet about what somebody else is having for lunch… 10 minutes without a smart phone? Surely I can handle this… Here goes…

Minute 1: re-read the menu, as if I ever intended ordering anything other than my usual, especially anything with pineapple.

Minute 2: Go to the toilet. Realise that I do not need the toilet but wash my hands for good measure. Return only to find my seat that has been stolen (in broad day light) by an overweight middle aged man. The lucky bastard has a Crackberry.

Minute 3: Finally some action. I notice the semi-attractive woman that has just walked in and appropriately name her Candi in my mind, that’s right with an “i”. Because it’s a pretty name that could also be the name of stripper, that’s why.

Minute 4: Reach with absent mind into my pocket for my phone so that I can Tweet and text about my first 3 minutes. Of course disappointment ensues along with a mild form of embarrassment, after all I knew I was sans iPhone all along.   Not to worry, Crackberry is so involved with his phone to notice the slip up and Candi is still ordering. Bullet dodged, Keanu style.

Minute 5: The pineapple seems to be getting bigger on the menu. Odd. It seemed quite proportionate just 4 minutes ago.

Minute 6: Crackberry manages to tear himself away from his “scintillating” BBM chat with his mom for just enough time to look up at me with what can only be described as a glare… As if I was the one that just BBM’d him to tell him he was a mistake… Aggression is in his eyes, I will have to keep a vigilant watch on him for the remainder of my time here, lest he ambush me.

Minute 7: Candi is also getting restless, her condescending thoughts are deafening, “look at him just sitting there doing nothing. He must be poor, only poor people don’t have smart phones, I don’t like poor people, I think I’ll knee him in the groin on my way out”

Minute 8: Maybe if I cancel the cheese I can shave a minute of the time, but that would require me to relinquish my groin defensive position and leave myself fully exposed on my way to the counter.

Minute 9:

Minute 10: That fat balding Crackberry addict and his slutty temptress are in cahoots with the pineapple! I must get out of here! I didn’t want a cheese burger this badly, not like this.