TV advertising is being allowed for the first time in SA in the coming elections, but its effect on voters is not expected to be huge, media experts say, writes Jocelyn Newmarch in the Weekender.

The Independent Communications Authority amended its election regulations last year, allowing political parties to broadcast campaign messages on television.

Free time has been made available to political parties on the SABC and, and the African National Congress (ANC) has bought additional 60-second spots.

But the cost of producing these advertisements can be prohibitive, and it is a luxury only larger parties will be able to afford.

The ANC has already launched its TV campaign, which will feature four adverts with real people discussing what they hope the ANC will do for them, ending with a call to everyone to vote.

Nunu Ntshingila, CEO of Ogilvy SA, which is in charge of the ANC’s advertising strategy, says the campaign is about South Africans having conversations with each other, talking about the past and the future. Both ANC spokeswoman Jessie Duarte and Ntshingila refused to discuss the budget for the advertisements .

The Independent Democrats (ID), one of the smaller parties, confirmed that it would also be using its free airtime of two minutes . Leader Patricia de Lille’s spokesman, Steven Otter, said the ID believed political parties should be barred from buying extra time as this would favour larger parties.

Harry Herber, group MD at the Media Shop, says the cost of producing a TV ad can range from “a couple of hundred thousand (rand) to a couple of million”.

Studio shots and graphics are relatively cheap, but location shoots — the kind the ANC has used — are much more expensive, costing about R1m or more each.

The ANC plans to flight four of these location-based adverts, each featuring a different testimony .

The adverts feature people in Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng and North West.

Duarte says they show real people with real experiences and real hopes.

“They show South African society as it is. And they give a voice to ordinary people.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will launch its television campaign on Monday. It is curiously reticent about its advertising agency.

Ryan Coetzee, the DA’s chief spokesman, says it prefers to focus on its message and will not disclose which agency it is using.

Click here to read the full report, posted on The Weekender's website.

Since only larger, well-funded parties can afford to produce TV advertisements and radio broadcasting is far cheaper, election campaign adverts were confined to radio until now.


But perhaps television advertising may not be as persuasive as parties think.

“Advertising is only as good as the strength of the brand it is promoting,” says marketing analyst Chris Moerdyk.