Marketers across the globe will not dispute that the best way to market and sell a product is to effectively and efficiently communicate with the targeted clientele in a language they can understand, colloquial or otherwise. It is important that the message is conveyed to the relevant people in an appropriate manner.
One of the local cellphone networks, beMobile, have since traded on the ‘blesser’ phenomenon a move which has been publicly condemned by a non-governmental organisation called Men and Boys for Gender Equality (MBGE).
Over the past few weeks, beMobile has dispatched bulk messages to their subscribers which read: “Bless yo’self with the Ditec Pioneer phone @only P700 …” and “be your own blesser! Get more than double mobile data when you …” a move which is seen by MBGE as perpetuating the blesser trend which has become quite popular and involves an intimate relationship which trades sex for gifts and money.
A statement from the team leader of MBGE, Desmond Lunga, indicates that in order for them to uphold their organisation’s mission which is to “engage men and boys in reducing gender inequalities, preventing HIV, ending gender based violence and promoting the health and well-being of women, men and children,” they cannot ignore these messages from beMobile.
Lunga goes on to challenge the beMobile team to indicate whether or not they conducted some kind of survey to ensure that the messages fall on to the ears of those who can afford to indeed “bless themselves” because those who cannot could very well be lured into finding ‘blessers’ to buy these products for them.
Lunga further states that this is a two-ended concept where sex is put on the table by the blessee’ and in return the ‘blesser’ provides gifts, money and a lavish lifestyle that would not exist in the absence of this relationship. “It has perpetuated inter-generational relationships, infidelity and has continued to contribute significantly to the spread of HIV and AIDS and the general disintegration of moral values.”
The head of Sponsorships and Consumer Public Relations at beMoble, Tiro Kganela, explained that beMobile was aware of the concerns which have been raised by “some corners of society,” of their beMobile Bless yourself campaign, which according to Kganela, has been running for the past two months.
“Our messages such as ‘bless yourself’ are premised on our product range which caters for every single citizen despite background and financial status. Our message is based on a creative language meaning “you don’t have to fall for wrong perceptions and ills of the community ÔÇô you can do it yourself,” and goes on to liken advertising to being a mirror depicting society.
Kganela further explained that they do want to trigger conversation around the ‘blesser’ concept since it is considered a social ill primarily because “as much as some in our society are uncomfortable with the content of the campaign and its wording, as beMOBILE we continue to encourage dialogue with our customers and members of our society.” In conclusion Kganela stated that as an organisation they were open to communication to all the stakeholders who perceive the campaign as negative.
According to Lunga, “The use of language has a powerful influence on how people behave and conveys intense subliminal messages. Though audio and visual content are also influential, the familiarity that comes with the use of everyday words steers consumers into identifying well and ultimately wanting to indulge in the product being marketed,” hence the vehement condemnation of this particular campaign.