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Why are all the election posters so boring?

We are one week away from the elections and 23 million voters have registered. Who could ask for a more captivate audience! From a branding and image perspective, I feel most of the parties have not used these tools to the best effect possible. You can clearly see this just by looking at the uncreative, uninspiring election posters out there.

Worldwide, political posters have been the greatest form of propaganda. The leaders in this were the Russians, the Cubans and Chinese. Remember the silhouette of Che Guevara?

As temporary as it is, a poster can win votes. In my mind not one of the South African Political parties has used this medium to its full effect. They lack the “X Factor.”

Most posters are really boring and don't even make use of words creatively, in order to persuade.
Let’s examine some of these…

United Democratic Movement (UDM)
Mr Holomisa, I think you might be the only politician not smiling-why? Remember, smile and the whole world smiles with you… The UDM says “the time is now”, but we have no idea what for.

Democratic Alliance (DA)
I know Helen Zille and Joe Seremane, but who are the other people on the DA’s posters? Up to a month ago their posters were only in English and Afrikaans-not very PC. Helen-good choice of suit and lipstick colour, red conveys strength and power.

African National Congress (ANC)
At first the ANC’s were the only multilingual posters (featuring eleven official languages). However, they took it a bit far, when they introduced posters in Greek …yes you heard..Greek.

Zuma has also chosen the very popular red tie amongst businessmen. Combined with a dark suit and a white shirt it is “Power dressing” at its best.

Although the ANC has been handing out free Jacob Zuma T-shirts, a new range of prints with Zuma's image looks likely to take voters by storm.

Mantombi Tofile, has produced a range of ANC shirts with messages such as "Zuma, My President; Zuma, Man Among Men; Zuma Born to Lead; ANC, Under New Management," among others.

She said "I thought this would be a funky and youthful way to promote the ANC in the run-up to the election” You go girl for taking the initiative.

Congress of the People (COPE)
The new kids on the block. However, there’s nothing fresh or new about their posters. COPE – if you are competing with the ANC for boring-you are doing well.

Some posters display the face of Dr Dandala and others that of Mosiuoa Lekota. Apparently it's to underline COPE’s view that there should be a clear separation of powers between the State and the ruling party. Sounds all too confusing to me and in the run up to the elections confusing is not what you want to be. Dr Dandela wears a yellow tie- in the psychology of colour-yellow imparts a sense of optimism and hope. Someone is doing their homework!

Freedom Front Plus (VF)
Clearly has no creative writers, if “every vote counts” was the best they could do.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)
When it comes to the 3rd largest political party, I say, thumbs up for Prince Buthelezi’s portrait-a refreshing break away from the normal politicians photo. It depicts sincerity and warmth. The colour orange is associated with joy, enthusiasm and determination. Pity they are so few of these around compared to the ones with just the party emblem on. I find the slogan,“The Tried and Tested Alternative” long and confusing. It sounds like the byline for a company selling beds.

Independent Democrats (ID)
Patricia de Lille focuses on bringing solutions. Girlfriend, the first solution we need to work on is an image make-over. It really worked for Helen!

How did Obama get it so right?

The political poster should be a cultural symbol for social change. The advertising agencies could have walked away with many Loeries during this time. The ANC has Ogilvy, last year's most awarded advertising agency.

I am sure the art directors and copywriters were screaming “give us creative freedom”! However, the parties were erring on the conservative side, there is too much risk involved at this late stage.

I ask myself, why did not one of our political parties take their cue from the recent Obama campaign? A street artist Shepard Fairey introduced the Barack Obama CHANGE poster. A hit on millions of T-shirts, the poster is in Washington's National Portrait Gallery, having reset the standard for art in the service of politics.

Obama’s change campaign… was the smartest publicity siege seen in a long time. The Obama tecchies used everything from social networking sites, twitter, text messaging, and virtual advertising in video games.

Over 80% of SA's 25m-plus cellphone users connect to the Internet via their mobile phones. Yet political parties do not seem to have picked up on this.

What a lost opportunity... Think about it, if you were 18, would you vote based just on the election posters out there?

I was in Parys!

The Department of Social Development invited me to their team build session on the banks of the Vaal River outside Parys. The delegates were taken through the Power Etiquette Workshop and had an afternoon of INFOTAINMENT. They all designed an action plan which stipulated the changes they would each make when dealing with the public, colleagues and stakeholders.

The entire session has changed the way we conduct our business for the sake of those that we serve
Mr Thabo Rakoloti, Chief Director,
National Department of Social Development.
I recently, I walked past an office and had a giggle at a sign on the door which read,“What part of do not disturb do you not understand?”
Fast paced technology and the open plan office have led to a number of brand new etiquette issues.

In this e-letter:
The “Unwritten” Office Rules
Power Etiquette Workshop
Remember Mother’s Day-10th May
Why are the Election Posters so boring?
I was in Parys!

The “Unwritten” Office Rules

There are many “unwritten” office rules. To make a great daily impression and build fantastic working relationships, you need to brush up on these. Here are the top Do’s and Don’ts of office etiquette so you know when you may be overstepping the line.

Privacy Pointers
Working in an open plan situation, requires discipline and respect for others privacy and personal space. If you have problems with a colleague or a manager discuss these in the privacy of a closed office-with the person concerned.

Announce yourself
Don’t assume that all staff have an “open door policy”. Don’t barge into someone’s office space without checking that you are not interrupting – a verbal “knock, knock” will be appreciated.

Always acknowledge the person walking into your office by looking up and making eye contact – even if you are busy on the telephone. A nod and eye contact acknowledges the person and makes them feel welcome.

Confidential Work
If you are working on a project of a confidential nature-keep out of sight of curious eyes. When away from your desk, don’t leave an email or document open on the screen. Put away, confidential paperwork in a drawer.

Private Life
In most offices you are constantly in hearing distance of others. Leave your personal drama at home. The whole floor does not need to hear about your cheating boyfriend’s latest wrong doing or your child’s potty training saga.

Even if your company does not have a “clean desk policy” ensure your desk is neat and tidy at all times. Your tidiness forms part of the “halo effect” and your overall professionalism. If your office area always looks like a rubbish dump – people will start to think “Imagine what her/his house looks like?”

Avoid eating at your desk. There is nothing more unpleasant than having to endure various food smells at all times (slap chips, sushi and popcorn), in an open plan environment. There is no escape, except perhaps to flee outside and play in traffic….Even if they never mention their disgust to you, colleagues might start to resent you, and label you as inconsiderate. Make sure you clean away used mugs and plates promptly.

Take Your Turn
Whether it is making coffee, buying cake or showing the new person around, make sure you take your turn. These small tasks show you are a team player.

Personal calls
Personal calls are no longer personal , in open plan offices, your call is likely to be overheard, even when colleagues don’t want to. If you can, wait until lunch or tea time to make personal calls. If you are making long personal calls at work you are either lacking job motivation or are disrespectful of company time. The quickest way to irritate your colleagues is by walking around the office speaking loudly on a cell phone.

Help Out
Offer your help to colleagues when you can see they really need it eg making photocopies 5 minutes before that all important meeting. Make sure you use your common sense on this one, as you can easily be taken advantage of.

Personal Boundaries

  • When borrowing staplers, pens, telephone directories etc.-always ask for permission, make sure you return it promptly and in the same condition.
  • Before you move anything that belongs to a colleague -ask permission “Do you mind if I move these 2 files to give us more space?” Messing with someone else’s territory and possessions can lead to a nasty snap.
  • Different people have different personal space areas. So before you sit your behind on someone’s desk or look over their shoulder at their new screen saver, ascertain how comfortable they are with your proximity.
  • It is easy to pick up unease in someone whose space has been invaded by watching their body language. They may lean back, away from you. Turn in their chair to face you, using their legs as a barrier. They might move things towards you-files, a mug, almost pushing you away extending their boundaries.
  • Avoid inflicting these on your colleagues – chewing nails, picking your nose, burping etc.
Absolute No-No’s

Converse in front of others in a language not understood by them. Not only is this rude but shows no consideration for the person that cannot understand that language.

Abuse of company resources
Remember, only your personal belongings are yours - everything else- your files, notes, e-mails belong to the company. Taking home office stationary for your child’s school project or your husband's new business is called STEALING.

Using company e-mail for private purposes
Make sure, you keep these to a minimum: personal e-mails, personal instant messenger use, surfing the net on company time, personal blogging. Remember, your e-mail system is owned by your employer, so the company has the right to discipline you for abusing it. Read your company’s official internet policy.

Being Late
If your company has a security card access system- management knows what time you go in and out of work. When needed, they can use these reports to implicate tardy employees. Don’t expect co-workers to cover up for you when late. Being late does not show how busy you are but rather how disorganized you are.

Don’t Gossip
Everyone gossips a little, however constantly spreading rumours or hearsay is not going to win you friends. If you become known for being a gossip, people will distrust you. Also remember that your next “secret” will be just as appealing to be passed on by others.

Don’t Offend
Never make racist, religious or sexist comments. At the same time, be careful you are not being too sensitive and easily offended. You’ll be labeled as the over-sensitive one and people will feel they need to “tiptoe” around you.

I am sure you know someone at the office who is addicted to sms’ïng. Make sure this is not you-it's very annoying. If you have to text-make sure your phone does not beep with every letter pressed and keep it to a minimum.

Review your company's policies
Every company has a list of policies available to its employees. If you don't remember them, now's a good time to brush up on what's acceptable and not.

Enquire about the Power Etiquette Workshop

At all times, let your colleagues view you as a person with immaculate etiquette, courtesy and consideration. Let us guide you through the fundamentals of Business Etiquette. This corporate workshop will equip you to better present yourself at work and project a professional impression relevant for today’s working world.

For more information on our Power Etiquette corporate workshops, please contact us on: Tel: 011 467 5126 or email:

10th May is Mother’s Day
This will be my first Mother’s Day at the age of 41. They say being
a mother is the most unrewarding, unpaid job-I disagree. Since my
daughter’s birth, I have a brand new outlook on life.

I look forward to waking up each day just to see that two front
teeth smile. The excitement in her face when she sees me is worth
the highest paid position. As my husband says it is like having a
brand new puppy each day-only better!

Here is an idea for the Perfect Mother’s Day Gift

Make this Mother’s Day one, that your wife, mum, sister or girlfriend will always remember.
Spoil her with a personalised Style & Colour Consultation. It will leave her looking and feeling fantastically gorgeous, all in the comfort of her own home.
For more information click here,
Or contact us on 011 467 5126 email:

What clients say...

The Professional Impression consultants were friendly and approachable. I found the session an eye opener. (Even my daughters learned something from my feedback.) I don’t shop without my colour chart and my personal style shopping guide. This was money well spent.
Mariette Malherbe-Communications Facilitator.
Mother of Giselle 19 and Jean 21.

Professional Impressions would like to credit

10 Ways to Maintain Your Privacy at Work-Kate Lorenz.
Election 2009: Campaign Poster Commentry
Political posters should push boundaries- Janet Smith Tribune -March 08, 2009
Financial Mail-The Poster Struggle-20th March 2009-Matebello Motloung
Little works of poster art 11/03/2009 –Chris Roper
So who tops the parly pops? March 15 2009 By Agiza Hlongwane
Health News 1st April 2009
Tel: 011 467 5126
Fax: 0866 140 205
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