Friday, November 30, 2007

RTF: “A Good Start” Isn’t Enough

I am sorry for not being here last Friday. You want to blame me? Right, go ahead. But I wouldn’t blame myself. Last week was Thanksgiving. You saw some Tanzanians in Houston, Texas, celebrating in their own way. I did not take that H-Town route, but spent time with family and friends thanking God for his endless blessings. So did you really expect me to have the energy to write after a wonderful bata mzinga feast? Come on! You wouldn’t demand that from a brother, would you?

Let me just get back to what I wanted to muse on.

So I was having a lunch break at work one day and I saw a flash of a commercial clip with an African tune in the background. I couldn’t see the whole commercial, but I definitely caught the last graphics. Tanzania was dangling on CNN!

You can watch the clip here .

I have made a call on this very blog that the Tanzanian government should do more to promote brand Tanzania . I applaud the government for putting this commercial on CNN and other media outlets. That is definitely a good start. Now, don’t take it that I am never satisfied or I simply get gratification out of criticism. I am not. I just like to call out things that folks tend to ignore. I just like to provide an honest feedback.

Doing something that has never been done before definitely deserves an applause. Nonetheless, good start is not good enough in some cases. In this particular case, the Tanzanian government attempted to do something that was long overdue. That deserves some praise, but does that justify doing a sloppy work?

A good start is not enough when you are spending tons of taxpayers’ money. A good start is not enough when you are just toying with competition. I am not a marketing expert, but I have seen enough commercials to tell what works and what does not, especially if you are going to advertise in a country like the United States of America. I have seen the Jamaican government advertisements, and I can only say that those guys know what they are doing.

From my little understanding of marketing, I believe commercials are intended to inform and persuade customers to consume a product or service. As such, commercials are meant to provide adequate information and tell a consumer why they should consume a product or service, and where to get that product or service. And that communication should be accomplished in a shorter period of time possible. Short of that, the commercial is just a waste of time.

Please revisit the Tanzanian government commercial again.

I don’t have any problem with the images and the background music presented in the commercial. Honestly, I think he images and the background music are great and are capturing the essence of the Tanzanian life. Nevertheless, the commercial does not communicate its core objective, which is to lure folks to visit Tanzania. Honestly, who suggested that informing viewers that Tanzania is the land of Kilimanjaro, home of the spice islands of Zanzibar and home to the greatest animal migration is good enough?

Why don’t you go out and say it flat out that “Hey you, Mr. Smith in Oregon or Arizona, come to Tanzania and experience all these things”? I mean, why would someone in Canton, Ohio care that Mt. Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania? You have to have a message for Mr. Smith to care about Mt. Kilimanjaro. The last time I checked, the Internet is full of that general information already. Kenyans have used the Mt. Kilimanjaro bait for so long. Your commercial must have a clear, differentiating point.

Let’s talk about the American market base, which this commercial targeted. It is a general expectation of an American consumer that all businesses have a website, where a customer can visit for further information on the company. Unfortunately, this commercial does not direct the viewer to the Tanzanian government or tourist board’s website. I know those websites do exist, but why in the world were those websites excluded from the commercial for further information and marketing?

I know Tanzanian government is full of bureaucrats who are experts in shoddy dealings, but when you want to play in an international arena, please bring your “A” game. Leave your Kaunda suits behind and know the league in which you are about to play in.

I expected that the Tanzanian government, in its attempt to woo the American tourist, had done their homework to figure out the behavior and general expectation of the American consumer. That is just common sense. Apparently, that was not done. I know the excuse will be that the Tanzanian government is new at this. That is fine, but when your commercial is not free; you better make sure that you are not spending that money on something half-baked.

Uurrgggghhhh! Let me just vent a little. Phew!
Photo credit: Maggid Mjengwa


Anonymous said...


You are really touching very sensitive issues in your blog. The problem I see is that most of the folks out there are not interested in taking part. After all, with the current mindset I came to realise that most of Tanzanians who visit blogs like the tabloids!

Coming to the issue on the agenda, it is actually disappointing to find out that a lot of taxpayers' money has been used in such a ridiculous way. Even if the target was the US citizens, the ad does not say anything potential, which might convince a person to come to Tanzania.

I heard some people who are close to TTB giving themselves Hi5 for the job done, after the footage was rolled on CNN!...This shows how we still not creating enough to keep the development wheel rolling forward!

Onyango Jashirati

Jaduong Metty said...


Omera, it was nice of you to drop a comment. So TTB folks gave themselves high-fives for this half-baked job? That is even more insane.

Nevertheless, I am convinced that change will happen someday. The Tanzania of today isn't the same 15 years ago.