South Africa gears up to welcome more than 300 international broadcasters for World Cup

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Although the World Cup does not start until next June, the territory is already pulling out the stops. US president Barack Obama has accepted the invitation to be at the opening ceremonies of the first World Cup in history to take place on African soil. Meanwhile, multimillion-dollar advertising strategies aimed at profiling South Africa are already under way.

The country’s film commissions are preparing for big increases in production shoots, while post-production outfits are already churning out cutting-edge projects tied to the 2010 tournament.

The World Cup is being seen not just as a game, but as a major catalyst for change.

Peter Kwele, General Manager of the SABC 2010 Project and Acting General Manager of Strategic Marketing and Communications for SABC Content Enterprises said :“It has allowed us to fast track the improvement of our technical capabilities, to speed up our digitisation projects and to upgrade our equipment in order to be able to broadcast in a high-definition environment.” Kwele adds: “When I talk about legacy and access, it is about activating public viewing areas and official FIFA fan fests in partnership with the government and FIFA. In doing this, we will be able to create access for the people who won’t be able to go to the stadium due to the limited supply of tickets.”

For the past year, South African advertisers and advertising agencies have been gearing up to create campaigns around the 2010 World Cup. Major players, such as audio giant Samson and cell-phone company Zain, are already churning out football-related spots and campaigns with local outfits, such as Feelgoodfilms.

Y&R South Africa’s group chief creative officer, Mick Blore, reports that his agency has been working on the games since the beginning of this year, if not longer — as have many other agencies. According to Barry Munchick, chief strategist and managing director for award-winning Velocity Films: “The World Cup will help in terms of business, but there will also be a lot of pressure for everyone to box clever.”

The Cape Film Commission’s (CFC) CEO Laurence Mitchell hopes to use the event to drum up business for location shoots. As a prelude to the games, the CFC has been taking every opportunity to profile the region’s production and post-production facilities, as well as providing technical training in various disciplines, including HD. Gauteng Film Commission (GFC), meanwhile, has already issued its 2010 Media And Crew Filming Guidelines for visiting media, film and TV crews attending the World Cup.

SABC’s footballskewed programming slate features Fame From Faith, a six part documentary that looks at the role played by religion and spirituality in the life of famous football players, including several of those expected to be present in South Africa for the 2010 tournament.

“We are hoping to show viewers a side of their heroes that is not often reflected in the mainstream media,” McNair says.

Upton International Sports And Entertainment, meanwhile, is already in pre-production with Urban Brew Studios on Footprints To The Final, which combines an update on football in South Africa with a visitor’s guide. The 17-year-old TV rights and sports-marketing company represents such properties as the Comrades Marathon, World Bowls 2000, the Boston Marathon, the Rotterdam Marathon, Million Dollar Golf and the World Figure Skating Championships. Its client roster includes Coca-Cola, Rothmans, Spar, Pick n Pay, MTN, Vodacom and Nedbank. CEO Greg Upton predicts there will be a lot more opportunities for sponsorship in the run up to the World Cup.

Connectivity and broadband is making it possible for South Africa to be an international player, according to Waterfront’s managing director, Mike Smit. With some 70% of his clients coming from other parts of Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the US, Smit says that Waterfront and its subsidiaries send a huge amount of data, including images, around the world on a daily basis.

“We have bought enough capacity for our needs, but the new fibre-optic upgrade means that prices will come down all around,” he adds.

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