Profile

Brendan Seery has been in the news business for most of his life, covering coups, wars, famines - and some funny stories - across Africa. Brendan Seery's Orchids and Onions column ran each week in the Saturday Star in Johannesburg and the Weekend Argus in Cape Town. Contact him now on
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#OrchidsandOnions: The dignity of discipline and labour, contrasting with the invasion of your space...

When I grew up, there was never much money in the house. And, with Irish ancestry, I have a fear of poverty in my DNA, which can probably be traced back to the Irish Famine. So, I am careful with money...

By Brendan Seery 22 May 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Cheers, from the lads, to Windhoek Lager - but, FNB, How the Hell can we believe you?

Beer is, for the most part, a product for men. They are, by far, the majority of its consumers and, therefore, the advertising is generally directed at them. And over the years, beer advertising as a genre has generated some good ads and some shockers...

By Brendan Seery 15 May 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Tales of great marketing communication from our own political Twilight Zone - and Volvo breaks the advertising mould

There are times, in modern-day South Africa, when you feel as though you have woken up in some sort of Twilight Zone - where things are upside down, or not where you expect them to be...

By Brendan Seery 1 May 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Getting lost in translation is one thing, but using someone else's incorrect, and dangerous, garbage is something totally different

I am not always convinced that a brand which makes arbitrary funny gags as "content" - which is light on, or even missing, a marketing message - is doing the right thing. A brand exists to sell its product or service, not to entertain...

By Brendan Seery 24 Apr 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Country roads, take me home... to the ad which makes me want to take a road trip

One of my greatest pleasures is a road trip. Getting up before sunrise, packing, with the aroma of the bacon-and-egg sarmies wafting through the car, almost as heady as the anticipation in the air. And this country, South Africa, has provided me, and my family, with some amazing memories...

By Brendan Seery 17 Apr 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Orchids for Wimpy cuteness - but Onions for PR sloppiness...

There's cute and there's cute and knowing how not to overdo it or get too twee and clever - that's what makes the difference between ordinary and great advertising...

By Brendan Seery 10 Apr 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: When cute becomes cloying and how to win (and lose) at the car insurance business

Sometimes cute does work in advertising. And sometimes, as a critic of advertising, if you pan something which is cute - or, even more dangerous, includes an animal - you incur the wrath of diverse constituencies, whose hate mail wishes you all manner of unpleasantness...

By Brendan Seery 27 Mar 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: "Cityproof" Nissan Qashqai hits the urban edgy spot, but latest Castle Lager ad has no fizz, bru (brew?)...

I've always had a soft spot for Nissan: I learned to drive in a Datsun (that was originally the main brand and corporate name for Nissan) and I own a rare Datsun sports car. But other than those cars, I've never felt that attracted to Nissan's modern day products, interesting and quality cars though they are...

By Brendan Seery 20 Mar 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Corporate social responsibility should be more than a clever marketing con trick...

Corporate social responsibility, as a concept, sounds fine in theory... but in practice, it often turns out to be another marketing scam...

By Brendan Seery 13 Mar 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: When kindness can be deadly... and when bad PR means a lost opportunity

When I had my "conversion", it wasn't on the road to the biblical road to Damascus; it was on the back of a large elephant...

By Brendan Seery 7 Mar 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Up and over - to the place called Obsession gets an Orchid for Toyota's Prado...

My colleague and friend, Paballo, is a photographer and, as is the mark of a top camera person, he can be slightly obsessive about getting things right: exposure, composition, expression - they all have to be just so...

By Brendan Seery 27 Feb 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Real appeal for real people is how Kia's Sportage rolls... but who let Sanral's strange Valentine's Day road map out in public?

Advertising has sometimes been described as the art of enticing people into buying things they don't need and they can't afford. In the car business, especially, it is often dreams which are being sold... sadly, those sort of dreams which can get people into big financial trouble eventually...

By Brendan Seery 20 Feb 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Back to the Future, with science. But, Vodacom needs to get back to the basics of customer service...

I remember looking, in some amazement, at the results pinned on the school notice board: I had got a distinction for physical science. Next to the board was our lugubrious, pipe-smoking, Mr Bean-like science teacher, "Rab" Wright...

By Brendan Seery 14 Feb 2018

You're on the air, Jacob G...

Welcome to Harold's Relationship Hotline*. We have Jacob G on the line this World Radio Day...

By Brendan Seery 13 Feb 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Men are more of a risk - true story. Windhoek Lager ad - untrue story.

First for Women acknowledges that there are gender differences when it comes to underwriting risks. Some men might not like that, but it is the reality: Men are more of a risk, when it comes to insurance, because, generally, they are less cautious than women...

By Brendan Seery 23 Jan 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Lesbians at the dinner table? Who cares? We're more worried about our taxpayer cash being squandered

I just wonder if South Africans are not more liberal and "let and let live" than a lot of people - and advertising agencies - give them credit for...

By Brendan Seery 17 Jan 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Hey Proteas! We're coming for you! And Appletiser puts the air in airhead...

I sat down to start writing this column just after the First Test between the Proteas and India got under way at Newlands in Cape Town...

By Brendan Seery 11 Jan 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: We can fix our $h!t and we can still make great ads... but let's lose the political correctness, please

Timing is something which always sets Nando's ads apart from the rest. Sure, the ads are funny - and in a way we, as South Africans, instinctively understand... but it is their timing which gives them their humour...

By Brendan Seery 9 Jan 2018

#OrchidsandOnions: Coca-Cola moves with the health-conscious times... and abuse takes to the road

Perhaps it's because we are sliding into the silly season, but I really have not seen anything this week which has irked me enough to hand out an Onion. And, I'd rather not devalue my critical currency, the Onion, by handing it out just because you expect me to be bitchy...

By Brendan Seery 12 Dec 2017

#OrchidsandOnions: MTN's 'Bright side' really dazzles, but this Sunday Times sub sinks without a trace...

I've talked before about the mega-battles of the cell phone brands as they launch their end-of-year campaigns (why they focus on summer is a bit beyond me, given that summer's already been underway for almost three months by now)...

By Brendan Seery 5 Dec 2017

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