Eureka! I think I’ve found the answer to the question confusing the minds of SA brandy marketers “what is the identity of SA brandy?” It is surely not Idris Elba, the cockney TV star who played Nelson in Mandela: long walk to freedom, the vehicle for Bono to pay his respects to the most famous black man, ever. Nor is it Jamie Foxx, another non-South African black man used to market the stuff. Nor is it an urban cocktail made with condensed milk and coffee extract. Neither a vehicle for selling imported Lindt chocolate nor even Valrhona.
May I respectfully suggest it has more to do with Afrikaans cabaret, an art form invented by the late, great Hennie Aucamp as performed this afternoon by Amanda Strydom (above) in ‘n vuur gevang in glas in Die Boer: restaurant teater in Durbanville. This is your audience (below). These are the people who will buy your product.
Forget about black diamonds, bar flies and media luvvies. Sure they’ll come to your festivals if you give them free tickets. Wine impresarios will take hundreds of thousands from you to organize lavish two night stands in hotel ballrooms and conference centres. But at the end of the day, as Leonard Cohen sang in Songs of Love and Hate
There are no letters in the mailbox,
and there are no grapes upon the vine,
and there are no chocolates in the boxes anymore,
and there are no diamonds in the mine.
The problem is in the mad rush to make brandy hip and groovy, marketers have abandoned the base which is now invaded by whisky: single malt, blends and even bourbon as the bar at Die Boer (below) confirms.
When bottles of scotch outnumber brandy in a bar in Durbanville, the game is over. Time to get back to the roots. Perhaps Afrikaans music is a start.
Afrikaans cabaret is all about authenticity and identity, which is surely what selling brandy should be about. Here are two Afrikaans artists (Jan du Toit and Luan Nel) with Amanda this afternoon
and here she is with actress Trix Pienaar who lives in a train in Pringle Bay.
If marketers cannot turn a show called fire captured in glass – a beautiful description of brandy if ever there was one – into a campaign to market an artisanal product to South Africans, then they should give up their BMWs and sell life insurance policies. Once a beachhead is re-established among traditional drinkers, then sallies can be launched into the interior. For brandy is truly fire captured in glass and as Hennie noted
Al sou jou liefde doodwaai, soos ‘n kersvlam in die wind
Bly jy vir al jou dae aan sy temalied gebind