Category Archives: Advertising

Audi MVP Day: Why the ‘A’ in A5 stands for ‘Amanda’

I got to drive a half-a-million rand car on Friday. Of course, I didn’t know how much it cost before I hit the 200km/h mark.

The gasps of surprise (and perhaps fear) from the male passengers was most enjoyable, especially since one of the guys had taken it for a spin before me – an experience so stomach-churning that I had to close my eyes.

What elicited such a heady response? The Audi A5 3.0 Diesel Sportback. As Cape Town Girl said, “It’s the iPhone of cars.”

New love of my life (photo by Joe Botha)

I got to drive this baby thanks to Chris Rawlinson, an ardent Audi fan, organising an MVP day out for us advertising and blogging types.

I’ve never really got the whole car thing. I’ve never understood why some men weep at the thought of driving a Maserati. And now I know why – I’ve never driven a car like the Audi A5.

I tend to race around in my nifty Toyota Yaris, pushing the little 1.3-VVTi engine for all it’s worth. But now I know that I am a driver who is made for greater things.

Me, Joe & Therese before my life-changing experience. (photo by Chris Rawlinson)

As the Audi dealer who accompanied us said, “You don’t drive like other women. I mean, they’re a bit too cautious. You’re not afraid to take the corners at speed.”

Only because this car was made for taking corners at speed. And for overtaking. And for cruising. Anyway, you get the picture (see below).

Better than sex? Possibly. (photo by Joe Botha)

Although the Audi A5 – or as I now call it, the Audi Amanda5 – was obviously my favourite, it wasn’t the only one we got to drive. We actually took four Audis out on the road, cruising along the coastal road to Betty’s Bay where we stopped for tea and scones.

Swapping the cars at various checkpoints, everyone got a turn to take a spin in the A5 3.0 Diesel Sportsback, the A5 Petrol 3.2 Sportsback, the sporty little A3, and the four-wheel drive Q5.

Hot pink for the hot Q5 (photo by Joe Botha)

The Q5 was pretty spectacular for an SUV because it actually feels like a car, but my (fast-beating) heart belongs to the A5 Diesel. This irrational lust has already made me nag my mother to take it for a test drive. After all, I drive just like her so she’s bound to fall in love with it too.

Thanks Chris Rawlinson and the awesome guys from the Audi Cape Town dealership for such a superb MVP day out and the delicious post-drive lunch (follow them on twitter). You’ve converted me into “a chick who digs cars”.

Oh yes, my husband has been informed that his next car will be an Audi.

The Bank & I

Everyone loves a bit of bank bashing, but I haven’t been able to fault Nedbank too often. Their advertising is by far the best when it comes to the “Big Four”. Their call centre staff are patient and polite. Their fees aren’t as bad as the rest (at least on my option).

But then there’s their online banking. Sadly, it’s basic, clunky and cumbersome.

Alistair Fairweather is busy researching which of the Big Four banks have the most user-friendly online banking (article coming to soon) and Nedbank isn’t shaping up too well.

My own experience confirms this. When I log in it tells me I have a Transactor Plus account, but I actually have a cheque account. I cannot create or change stop orders. And now it no longer works in Firefox (since Firefox was upgraded).

I had called and reported all this, but nothing had changed. Then I saw the HeadStart promotion on TV, squarely aimed at my age and demographic. I thought, “Great, Nedbank are starting to speak to customers under 35. I’m sure they’ll jack up their online presence soon.”

This didn’t happen and their facebook page is rather forlorn, as you can (very) plainly see.

They’re not using it at all. They haven’t even promised, “Something coming soon!” They’ve just admitted that they registered the Page to protect their brand (fair enough, but you don’t tell the public that).

Then I searched for Nedbank on twitter and… nothing. I couldn’t believe it. Standard Bank is there, but the username Nedbank was a suspended account.

Rather annoyed by all this, I registered @NedbankSA and hoped that one day Nedbank would see my little protest.

The next day I got a call from Nedbank. A very helpful and kind technical guy explained everything I already knew and promised they are working on improving their online banking, as well as “getting on the twitter site”.

This is when I started to feel sorry for Nedbank. They are probably as confused and bewildered about social media and this interweb thing as many other big traditional companies. They have obviously spent millions on media placement for their latest TV ads, but their online persona is non-existent.

After I explained all this, the tech guy said their marketing department would contact me soon. I’m really looking forward to it. I want to help them Make Things Happen.

Hot women have it easier

Like it or not, beautiful women find it easier to succeed in business. Okay, attractive women and men find it easier to succeed. But looks have a far greater impact on a woman’s career.

Think about it. How many fat, ugly male CEOs are there? And how many fat, ugly female CEOs are there? Just compare poor old Whitey Basson (CEO, Shoprite) to the gorgeous Renee Silverstone (CEO, The Jupiter Drawing Room).

Righteous feminists will argue that looks have nothing to do with professional ability. They’re absolutely right of course, but they’re missing the point — looks empower a woman to use her professional ability. It’s a man’s world and that’s not going to change by showing how principled you are.

I’m not saying that stupid attractive women are more likely to be promoted. I’m saying that attractive intelligent women are more likely to be promoted.

It’s Darwinian and base, but people — men and women — take a well-groomed and shiny-haired woman more seriously than the one who wears T-shirts and shuns make-up. The latter may succeed via her intellect and skills, but she’s unlikely to be appointed CEO.

I have a friend who works for a prestigious private bank. The running joke is that they only hire former models with BCom degrees.

She freely admits that looking good has been helpful. Because while the men she works with are distracted by her long limbs and glossy mane, she’s making the company a lot of money and getting noticed by senior management.

I also know a skilled account manager who’s naturally a brunette, but says staying blonde makes it easier to deal with clients. Apparently they pay more attention to what she’s saying, which gets the job done faster.

That’s not using your looks — that’s using your brain.

Of course, it can cut both ways. I once had two female creative directors who were insecure about their fading looks and advancing age. They didn’t hire a promising young copywriter because they thought she was “too attractive”. The copywriter went on to be hired by another (mainly male) agency and do fantastic work.

Then there’s the problem of women who only get by on their looks. Without any real qualification except “people skills” and the ability to read a business management book, they usually end up doing well in PR or marketing (no wonder there’s a dearth of creativity in both fields).

That aside, there’s nothing wrong with a woman using her attractiveness, and her mind, to get ahead. Talent alone can take you very far, but if you really want to reach the top you’ll need a good hairdresser too.

*Amanda works in a sexist, shallow industry filled with pseudo-intellectuals and wannabe artists. She wears heels and a handkerchief when presenting to clients. That way they’re less likely to play with their BlackBerries.

(This originally appeared on Mail & Guardian’s

Mick Jagger to Andy Warhol

Could this be the coolest creative brief in history?

mick to andy