As South Africa inexorably plummets down the global ratings of media freedom and with government’s Quixotic plan to ban liquor and fast food ads, it is important to remind our nanny state about the important roles media and marketing play in our society
However, as government does not seem to pay the slightest attention to what I or anyone else associated with the media or marketing industries have to say, perhaps they will take notice of this private letter to the World Health Organisation, written by a South African medical doctor, hygienist and econo-socio-medical analyst, who asked me to keep his name secret in exchange for a copy of this letter.
Dear Doctor De Freitas
It is my pleasant duty to inform the World Health Organisation, or more specifically your Committee for Global Hygiene and Killing All Known Germs Dead, that South Africa is now on the verge of being the first completely sterile nation on earth.
Yes I know Aids is still a great cause for concern, but by heaven, our kitchens are spotless
A bit of advice on this outstanding achievement, howeverIf you’re thinking of conferring some sort of honour on the country’s medical researchers, don’t even think about itIt is South Africa’s marketers and mass media that are responsible for this quite remarkable breakthrough
It all started about 15 years ago when a diabolically clever aerosol salesman saw the writing on the wall vis-a-vis the ozone layer being seriously depleted by his product, so he decided to diversify into something that local consumers would simply be forced to buy out of sheer terror.
The idea came to him late one night after a huge party to celebrate his fifth consecutive ‘Most Persistent Salesperson of the Year’ award when he had his head halfway down the U-bend of a Stasie Hotel lavatory in an effort to bring up 16 draft beers, a bottle and a half of Chateau Brakpan cabernet and a quart of crème de menthe
“Lavatories,” he thought”That’s where my future lies – lavatories.”
So, he developed all sorts of products to toss into lavatory cisterns, hook on to the edge of lavatory pans and that could reach into every possible nook and cranny to obliterate germs with every flush
At the same time he harnessed the power of the mass media to point out to South Africans the frightening array of deadly bacterial livestock that had taken up residence in their loos.
The nation heeded his warning with such gusto that in KwaZulu-Natal, for example, 200 square kilometres of Indian Ocean adjacent the main Durban sewage outfall pipe turned bright blue and thousands of citizens who were previously allergic to shellfish were able to climb into plates of paella with absolute impunity
Our salesman, now elevated by his peers to the level of marketing guru, was on a roll
He moved from lavatory pans to drains and harnessed the nation’s television channels to show us all the indescribable dangers lurking in our drainsThey responded immediately and killed them dead
Since then he has been unstoppableWe are now told that those little sponge things with the abrasive green stuff on one side and which we have used for years to clean pots, pans and kitchen surfaces are so deadly they relegate Legionnaire’s Disease to the danger level of a blind pimple
He has given us a bath soap that envelopes us in an invisible shroud of sanitation to ward off all those bacterial baddies that make us sick or cause our armpits to smell
But, my dear Dr De Frietas, that’s not allWe now have advertising telling us about household cleaning products that can obliterate viruses
Oh ho, I thought that would get your attention! How about that? All the medical brains in the world haven’t been able to find a cure for the common cold but hey presto, a simple South African salesman has not only managed to find a way of nailing all manner of viruses to the wall but can at the same time leave your entire home smelling like roses or anything from pine forests to freshly baked bread
And if that wasn’t enough, only a teaspoonful of his miracle domestic elixir mixed with a bucket of water can sterilise a kitchen to the point where it makes your run of the mill operating theatre about as hygienic as an Elizabethan cesspit
PS: Please wash you hands before replying to this letter
Follow Chris Moerdyk on Twitter @chrismoerdyk
IMAGE: Domestos Bleach