2010 – Expectations and Commitment: The Communication Challenge
Ladies and Gentlemen
Background to the Partnership and the Conference
When South Africa was given the right to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup there was a surge in all the indicators of how South Africans feel about themselves. The Consumer Confidence Index underwent what was probably its biggest ever leap.
In fact as it turned out we were seeing a spike in a rising trend in the national mood – growing confidence in the direction of the country and in our capacity together to deal with whatever problems and challenges we face and to continue on the path towards the goals inscribed in our constitution; high levels of national pride and a steadily but surely increasing sense of national unity.
I mention this as part of the context in which government and others began in 2004 to think through the communication implications of having won the right to host a tournament that engaged the passions of our country and the whole world.
It was also a time in which the country’s communicators in all sectors were feeling their way towards a shared vision of the nation that we are becoming. Out of discussion amongst communicators there emerged the idea of National Communication Partnership for 2010 – of which more later
The government has to ensure both that it fulfils its obligations to FIFA for the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup; and that as a country South Africa takes advantage of the opportunities that come with hosting. These include the possibility to:
- Market our country to billions of people all over the world
- Boost our tourism and sports industries
- Speed up programmes to address infrastructure backlogs
- Unite all South Africans behind concrete popular objectives within a concrete timeframe, promoting both unity and development.
What government is doing?
Though it goes beyond branding and communication, it should be said at this point that the recent Cabinet lekgotla discussed the strategy for ensuring that we do indeed fulfil our obligations and make the most of the opportunity.
Preparations for the event are proceeding well, but there is no complacency, given the tight timeframes. The necessary institutional structures are in place and fully functional. An Inter Ministerial Committee is in place to co-ordinate all government efforts, assisted by a Technical Coordination Committee chaired by the Deputy Minster of Finance.
A transport plan was presented to the Lekgotla. It includes upgrading road, rail, air and non-motorized transport. It caters for long distance linkages, intercity travelling and transportation within host cities. The upgrading of infrastructure has already begun with airports upgrade being the most advanced. A public transport fund has been set up in the Department of Transport to focus primarily on 2010 initiatives. Going beyond 2010, these measures will ensure that South Africa will indeed be a better place for all afterwards – a reliable, efficient and affordable public transport system is among the legacies that we want 2010 to leave our country.
An operational and resource plan for all aspects of the 2010 FIFA World Cup has been completed. The government will work with all stakeholders to:
- ensure that infrastructure projects are completed on time and undertaken with confidence and efficiency
- ensure common action across the three spheres of government, State Owned Enterprises, big and small business, the football authorities and across society as a whole
- encourage the development and implementation of a vision for the national soccer team
- monitor preparations and implementation of the security strategy and transport plan, and communicate them widely to ensure that SA and the world appreciate this work
- promote international marketing on a massive scale to take advantage of this unique opportunity to improve perceptions of our country and continent.
Partnership for 2010
Fundamental to government’s approach towards accomplishing this enormous task is partnership in all areas, including communication.
- The 2010 National Communication Partnership is premised on the need for a joint effort around 2010 of communicators across society and in all creative and communication disciplines;
- It is informed by an understanding that the country’s communicators do feel a common responsibility to help meet the challenge of translating the positive trend that we now call the Age of Hope into united action to continue improving our society and to improve our image and that of our continent.
Before the 2006 World Cup Final the Partnership – about which more will be said later – focused on building capacity to do the things that need to be done after the 2006 final when we would be able to communicate. Though launched at a workshop last November, this is the first public conference, the first of what is to be an annual event. It helped shape the national approach to 2010 communication outlined in this presentation, and in the conference packs. One can add that this communication approach has been shared with FIFA.
Opportunity of a lifetime
Two terrains of communication
The point of departure is that the right to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup brings a unique opportunity that extends well beyond football. Defining it requires a distinction between two terrains of communication.
The one is the terrain of mandatory communication, in which South Africa must fulfil communication obligations on behalf of FIFA, whose World Cup it is
But beyond that there is an optional terrain, the space South Africa can create without infringing on FIFA’s rights, to draw benefit from the hosting of this very large event for our country, for all sectors of our society, and, working with other countries, for our region and our continent.
All the things that can be achieved from hosting 2010, require communication to one degree or another that is focused on a few key objectives.
A national, nation building perspective
If 2010 is to be a catalyst for change then we need to fix our sights beyond that year, and to think of:
- who we are; how we want to be seen then, by ourselves and others; how we want to have changed; what message we want 2010 visitors to hear
- linkages between 2010 and milestones of our history (2010 is the twentieth anniversary of the start of negotiations and release of Nelson Mandela) – and where we are going (2014 is the end of the Second Decade of Freedom and the year by which we want to see poverty and unemployment halved).
An African World Cup
Creative attention will have to be given to building African solidarity and to communicating 2010 as an African World Cup, in the continent and globally.
Working with institutions such as the AU Commission and the NEPAD Secretariat, and by building communication partnership in the SADC region and across the continent, strategies will need to be developed to ensure that the continent leverages the positive mood created by the preparations and hosting of 2010.
Leverage for marketing and speeding up development
2010 brings exceptional domestic and global media platforms; infrastructural development; and visitors on a scale that creates immense opportunities to establish linkages across government and the private sector that will enhance development efforts through investment promotion; international marketing; tourism and government programmes.
Mobilising the nation
A successful 2010 cannot be achieved by the soccer authorities and Government alone. It will require the participation of all South Africans, in their occupations, as volunteers and as brand ambassadors. Promoting that kind of participation is a prime communication objective.
Creating a favourable environment - setting the agenda
The next three to four years are a time to set the agenda of public discourse about South Africa, in particular in the foreign media so that the communication environment becomes more favourable to making the most of 2010.
Learning from the communication experience of others
The experience of other countries that have hosted major events like this has important lessons for us if married with our own perspective and character. Hence the attention are paying to the Olympics in Barcelona and Athens – and to the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
With so many organisations and interests having a stake in 2010, and with such intense international scrutiny, there is a premium on coordination and integration in communication
Overall government leadership of SA’s hosting and communication takes place under the oversight of the Inter-Ministerial Committee - some of whom sit on the LOC Board - and its Technical Co-ordination Committee. Structures coordinating government’s 2010-related communication are led by GCIS and link to the TCC.
The National Communication Partnership for 2010 links to the overall framework through the Technical Coordination Committee, and also works with the LOC.
It is a public private partnership working through the International Marketing Council and GCIS in consultation with organisations such as the 2010 Local Organising Committee, SA Tourism, and other stakeholders. Its purpose is to promote co-ordinated local and international communication to maximise the benefit of hosting 2010.
ritically, the Partnership is just that, a partnership. It is not an organisation. It is not an agent for 2010 World Cup communications or for the LOC. It is not an agent for government or for the host cities.
Its task is rather to ensure that these different strands communicate a common message in a coherent way, conveying a shared vision in alignment with the national brand. It should become a point of reference for all who engage in communication in the period leading up to 2010.
The partnership is championed by a Core Group of activist members broadly reflective of sectors represented by the International Marketing Council, Advertisers, Marketers, Parastatals, Media, Market Research and Government. It has effective linkages with the LOC and SAFA. Between Core Group meetings the process is driven by a Task Team working on areas including: issue management and promoting “good news” flow; opinion research; web-presence; and building networks.
Consultative workshops promote alignment and coordination through information exchange and sharing of strategy and plans. The Task Team engages with stakeholder sectors and encourages the formation of sectoral and discipline groupings within this broad approach to 2010 communication.
Phasing and messaging
A campaign over the four years and beyond will need to be phased, in ways that keep pace with World Cup technical milestones and with the hosting preparations. The phases would need to be developed into detailed communication programmes. In the first phase, which ended with the 2006 final, the focus was on building coordinating capacity and the management of issues. In the current period.
- Core message
With respect to content, we need to combine two things. We must use the platform to build our brand. And we must also convey messages specific to 2010 that mobilise and inform in specific ways that are necessary both to make a success of our hosting and to take advantage as a country of the opportunities.
Consistent branding will be premised on the BrandSA.
With regard to the specifics of 2010, in the current period particular emphasis is required on sustaining and building confidence in our capacity to deliver a successful World Cup – a specific instance of the national brand - and to creating an environment for SA and the continent as a whole to take advantage of the opportunity. Hence our core message for the current period, and perhaps beyond, derives from that of our bid: “Africa’s time has come – South Africa is Ready”
More detailed messaging with emphases appropriate to each phase and to particular circumstances will be developed and disseminate through the Partnership.
Conclusion – The communication challenge
Part of the title of this presentation is “The communication challenge”.
Research has shown two interesting findings. Asked in a national survey done by Markinor in April this year, if it was a good thing for SA that the world sees 2010 as an African World Cup, and whether 2010 would strengthen relations between SA and the rest of the continent, some 80% said “Yes”. Asked in a national survey by the HSRC towards the end of last year if they thought SA would be ready for 2010, some 80% said yes.
These are high number by any account and they point to a favourable environment for communicators.
The challenge is this – as communicators, are we ready!!!
Issued by: Government Communication (GCIS)