On April 28, midway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, the Mall of Africa opens.
From the beginning, the developers promoted the MOA as an international magnet that will capture shoppers in a five-hour radius from Lagos and Kinshasa to Luanda and Lusaka. On a national scale, MOA defines itself as a new mega destination for shopping, working and living set to attract around 6.7 million people living within an hour drive. In particular MOA targets what it calls “top earners” (senior decision makers, diplomats, business owners), “superior earners” (mid-level execs), and “rising stars” (entrepreneurs, young professionals).
It enters the much coveted category of super regional centres, that’s very large retail facilities offering the widest possible range of stores, products and services. They exceed 100.000 sqm in size (gross leasable area (GLA)) and 250 in the number of stores. They have at least six anchor tenants including clothing, groceries, household goods and entertainment. They also distinguish themselves by new retail concepts and latest advancements in design and architecture. There is only a handful of super regional centres in South Africa, including Sandton City, Centurion Mall and Fourways Mall. MOA sees Sandton City as its main competitor.
By all measures, Sandton City in Johannesburg is the most successful mall in South Africa. It has become so expansive in its offerings over the years that it is now a world-class tourist destination, beyond being Africa’s number one shopping destination.
Here is a quick look at some of the key ingredients of Sandton City success.
Thirty years ago Marrakesh became a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site. To celebrate the anniversary of this prestigious recognition, a panel of Moroccan ministers, UNESCO officials, historians, sociologists and architects convened at the Ben Yusef Madrasa end December 2015.
As one of the monuments that benefited from the rehabilitation and restoration works undertaken in Marrakesh during the last three decades, as one of the city’s most visited places, the Madrasa deserved to be on the spotlight. Built in 1570, the ancient Koranic school is a labyrinth made of tight stairs, deep windows, low ceilings, heavy wooden doors as well as an extravaganza of ornaments, zelliges and sculpted marble.
At the madrasa I also found what the theme of heritage have come to represent for several cities around the world: a smart way to attract tourists and new breed of residents. The combination of the joint efforts by the municipalities and conservationists, the realization among the population of the importance of preservation and the involvement of other stakeholders such as the local tourist and hospitality industries make it possible for sites of great historical value to serve new purposes in the modern age.
While a robust and diverse offering of hotels – among which are some of the best in the world – and global events, provides Marrakesh with a reputation very few cities in the world can match, there is one unique appeal with heritage: it completes the Marrakesh experience with a holistic journey through meditation, art, and architecture.
ADVERTISER: McDonald’s Morocco
PERIOD: Dec 2015, Jan-March 2016
“Acknowledging our farmers’ know-how is all it takes for them to give us the best of their production. McDonald’s Morocco is a 100% Moroccan company, servicing Moroccans since 23 years. The brand has perfectly adapted to local consumer habits and commits itself to actively contributing to the country’s economic, social and human development. McDonald’s restaurants work with local suppliers for half of their supplies in raw materials such as bread, oil, vegetables among which salads, ice creams, dairy products, confectionery and packaging. McDonald’s Morocco is also a 100% Moroccan staff. More than 2700 men and women strive every day to meet the needs of their customers.”
CHANNEL L’Economiste, a daily business newspaper and Tel Quel, a monthly magazine on current affairs
GOALS To gain long term brand assets, i.e. recognition and validation from specific targeted groups
MESSAGING Emotional and rational
TARGET Agri-food industry, private and public stakeholders, suppliers, partners (franchisees), influencers, affluent consumers
CONTENT This is a statement on the brand’s economic role and the company’s social responsibility in a national context. The tagline is “United in loving, united in acknowledging”.
VISUAL The main character is a farmer. His old age, his rugged hands, the absence of machinery suggest this is a longstanding, small-sized farm and an artisanal production.
In major cities across Morocco, one sometimes sees wall-covering, outdoor billboards containing nothing but flamboyant pictures and catchy names of McDonalds’s hamburgers. These billboards zoom in on the product features, are designed to create mass awareness and to generate augmented footfall in their restaurants in the very short term. What’s in this nationwide ad campaign running over several months is a totally different game.
By populating its message with numbers, McDonald’s Morocco tries to demonstrate that it is no longer a mere outpost of a US brand confined to importing US products. They are re-introducing themselves as an authentic Moroccan company that deeply understands local consumers and only employs local talents. They also wish to be considered as a major player in the Moroccan economy as they source half of the ingredients from local suppliers.
This elaborated narrative not only has powerful numbers, it also has evocative verbs – to adapt to, to service, to commit, to strive. The intention is stress that the brand entered Morocco and established itself with humility.
The text would have been perfect had they 1/ used “partner with” instead of “work” [with local suppliers], 2/ been conservative with what can be defined as “raw materials” (last time I checked, ice cream, bread, packaging, confectionery did not qualify).
By presenting a visual loaded with symbols – the green field, the used hands, the generous smile – and using an emotional tagline, McDonalds wants also to convince that it is a socially responsible company. So the pitch turns into a call to feel for and acknowledge Moroccan farmers. As Moroccans have a very positive view of agriculture, they will hardly resist to respond to this call.
Here also, it would have been perfect had McDonald’s avoided misspelling “reconnaissance” (acknowledgment).
Ultimately, McDonald’s Morocco is making a substantive, well-articulated case that will greatly resonate with the targeted audiences – corporate and institutional decision makers, influencers, stakeholders. In recent years these groups have gained greater confidence, have been more assertive about the stature, capabilities and prospects of the Moroccan economy at both the national and continental levels.
The advert will also resonate with well-off Moroccans who, as they became more empowered, more discerning consumers, expect brands to court them with sophisticated pitches.
Perhaps the whole advert would have been further incisive had McDonald’s Morocco gone beyond this past-present approach. Inspiring people, taking them to the next level, proposing a mission and a vision has proved to be a successful way to build a brand. For instance, Nike’s vision is to inspire the athlete in everyone, Unilever’s vision is to make sustainable living commonplace.
So what could be McDonalds’s vision vis-à-vis empowered audiences looking to a promising future?
Surprisingly, fruits, of which Morocco is a great producer, are left off the list of raw materials above. Therefore a step forward for the company could be to source 100% of the ingredients exclusively at national level and to use marketing to celebrate partnerships with vegetable and fruit growers, in addition to wheat and milk producers, and cheese makers. This is not only within reach, but it would also represent a decisive milestone in McDonalds’s quest for undisputable authenticity.