As the inevitable squabble over Nelson Mandela’s estate descends into chaos, advertising agencies have been left on tenterhooks awaiting the appropriate time to trample over his legacy. Untroubled by guilt and the minutiae of ethics, most executives are unable to judge when a respectful period of bereavement ends and the start of massive quasi-orgasmic ‘spondulicks. bonanza’ begins.
As with other twentieth century icons, the Mandela’s image will soon adorn t-shirts, bumper stickers and G4S prisons. While Santa pimps himself out to Coca Cola, who now remembers that Ronald McDonald was once the co-author of the ‘I have a Dream’ speech or that Tony the Tiger was a Sri Lankan separatist? Many South African activists are concerned that Mandela’s new aftershave, duet with Robin Thicke and musical biopic ‘Apartheid – Disco Inferno’ will some how ‘devalue his brand’.
One advertiser attempted to contextualize the issue: ‘If Mandela was alive today he would want to speak out against social injustice, while endorsing a range of underwear and cut price conservatories. You can care about civil rights and also be concerned about discount smart phones. The two issues are not mutually exclusive. His struggle against Apartheid could not have been maintained without an energizing breakfast of probiotic yogurt, red bull and the cooperation of F. W. de Klerk.’
Mr. Mandela has already been portrayed in various movies, but is it is hoped that his message of ‘tolerance’ will reach a wider audience as he does battle with robotic dinosaurs in a series of animated Manga cartoons. While the accompanying range of ‘Mandela Dolls’ is a ‘must have’ toy, the “Where’s Winnie?’ book has been a slow seller. Rumours that next year’s John Lewis Christmas Advert is set on Robben Island are yet to be confirmed.