The Execution of Brand Mandela


Bigger than branding. Iconic

Bigger than branding. Iconic

The brand seems to be  everywhere, on a stained-glass window inside a Soweto church, to an mammoth bronze statue in a Sandton shopping mall. It is on road signs and on bridges. The brand exists on T-shirts, clocks, coasters, the brand has inspired a clothing line, pricey artworks, a wine range ‘House of Mandela’ and more curiously, a reality TV show by his grandchildren. The brand is well and truly firmly in South Africa’s collective consciousness.

The Mandela brand is everywhere but as with all personality brands guide-lines exist, Mr Mandela’s face may not be placed on commercial products, and cannot be associated with tobacco and alcohol. Seems like the latter has been clearly bent with the introduction of a quite pricey wine range by Mandela family members perfectly content to sacrifice the brand at the capitalist altar to make that quick Rand (best do it now before it further devalues).

But where is the line drawn between promoting the brand, and thus promoting the values its bearer advocated; freedom, peace and forgiveness and commercialism that bears no resemblance to what Mr Mandela stood for?

Has the Mandela brand not been over commercialised and edged further away from its original consciousness of selflessness?

Nobody is implying anything here

Nobody is implying anything here

The fight is on for brand Mandela with daughters Makaziwe Mandela and Zenani Dlamini, with the support of a third child and most of his grandchildren, having started a court battle over the Nelson Mandela brand “to claim back what is rightfully theirs”. It seems to me Dollar signs are tearing the family apart and the Mandela legacy is being torn apart with it. If the rights are claimed by the greedy little ones (who should be spending more time with daddy dearest rather than gracing our courts with their presence), then I fear brand Mandela will stand for something completely different in the future.

It’s not only the beloved daughters that are trying to extract every last Rand from the brand. More and more people are seeking to capitalise on what has become one of the world’s leading brands and I fear the image of Mr Mandela may become devalued.

This Day newspaper once described the rebranding of Mandela Square in Sandton as “one of the most crass examples of capitalist commodification”.

Jeremy Sampson, chief executive of Interbrand Sampson in Johannesburg, told Reuters. “Public relations experts quote a US survey placing Mandela second only to the mother of all brands, Coca-Cola. Mandela has an amazing brand internationally and he’s untarnished, better than Mother Teresa actually” he goes onto say.

In the end, we all need to know what he stood for

In the end, we all need to know what he stood for

All this commercialization of brand Mandela reminds me of the words of Mr Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela stating that Nelson Mandela had become a ‘corporate foundation’ who was ‘wheeled out’ only to raise money for the ANC party he once led. Now these were most likely the words of a bitter old lady with an axe to grind but isn’t there some truth to it? Brand Mandela has become so associated with gross capitalism and making a quick buck that I fear our children and their children will see Mr Mandela as just a capitalist leader and not a selfless leader that liberated his people

That’s our piece and tell them you heard it from Mat “The Rat” Mkhize right here on Starving Creatives. Check this little video below where they discuss “What has happened to Brand Mandela”

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