Proudly South African (PSA) — the campaign established in 2001 to stimulate local demand, sustain current jobs and create employment by encouraging consumers to buy local products — is undergoing a renaissance under new CEO Manana Moroka, the organisation said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Mail & Guardian reported earlier this month that PSA was floundering. Hundreds of disillusioned members had withdrawn their annual subscription fees, key staff members had resigned and revenue from founding sponsors had run dry, the report noted.
“The campaign has admittedly been in a state of flux in the past few years as we’ve had two interim leaders and hence no firm and consistent strategy. But now that I’m at the helm, we have set up a number of new initiatives to enhance the campaign, silence the doubters and focus on delivering monetary benefits to all our members,” Moroka said in Tuesday’s statement.
“And the results are beginning to show: in the last year alone we have signed up 276 new members and 54 of those joined in the first three months of 2006. We have a lot of momentum behind the brand,” she added.
She noted that another 65 large companies have expressed interest in joining PSA and are currently obtaining internal approval from their respective executive boards.
“According to independent research, more than 80% of consumers are aware of the PSA logo and understand what it represents. Twenty-three percent of consumers are actively seeking out Proudly South African products and services when they make purchases. Clearly, Proudly South African is working very well for our members,” she says.
Since the beginning of the PSA campaign, 2 697 companies were registered on the PSA database.
These are segmented as follows: 1 350 active, paid-up members; 130 potential new members; 386 up for renewal; 495 member companies whose membership have lapsed due to the closing down of companies; and 336 members who voluntarily terminated their PSA membership over the past five years.
According to the M&G, at the end of 2003, PSA had a membership of 2 500 companies, a figure which has since dwindled. A string of ex-members interviewed by the M&G gave a lack of return on their fees as a key reason for their withdrawal. Contracts with founding sponsors South African Airways, Eskom, Old Mutual, PetroSA, Barloworld and Telkom, yielding R24-million in the first three years, lapsed in 2004.
“Membership is expected to gain further momentum as we move into our second phase, which is more customer-driven, as opposed to awareness-focused, and which includes a sector-based approach. The key centre of attention is to use the Proudly South African brand to unlock business value and opportunities for members,” said Moroka on Tuesday.
Former PSA CEO Martin Feinstein, who left in mid-2004, told the M&G: “If members have started to leave the campaign, that’s sad, because it has enormous potential. At its core, Proudly South African is a brand and, like any other brand, its reputation and its value to users are closely linked. Brands have to be carefully managed and supported by delivery on the ground. If the brand isn’t delivering, people will lose faith in it and, while that situation can be reversed, it’s a tough job.”
Moroka also pointed to the success of the latest PSA Homegrown Awards, which recognise PSA companies that have heeded the call of nation-building and are committed to create and improve opportunities for many South Africans.
“We have embarked on a concerted drive to develop concrete and tangible benefits for all members. For example, in collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry, PSA is enabling some members to get global exposure and gain international business experience.”
Moroka also says PSA has had promising discussions with the National Treasury in an effort to include PSA members on the preferential procurement list of the government. These negations are ongoing.
PSA has also negotiated discounted advertising rates for PSA members with some of the PSA media partners. PSA has, furthermore, negotiated with a top corporate governance institution to assist members with corporate governance issues and provide them with the necessary training at discounted rates.
“However, it should be acknowledged that it takes time for the results of the numerous high-level negotiations on membership benefits undertaken by PSA to bear visible fruit.”
During the past six months, the organisation has undergone major changes through realigning systems, processes and procedures, and reassessing internal skills in preparation of the challenges posed by the campaign’s second phase.
Moroka says these will be followed through during the next two quarters, while a comprehensive strategic review, including the operations plan, is being undertaken and implemented.
“These measures aim to reposition the brand, to increase its marketing potential and improve the financial underpinnings of PSA. This is anticipated to provide additional dynamism and value contribution to the members.
“Member retention through the newly adopted sector approach; compliance; value-added tangible member benefits; and changing consumer behaviour in favour of purchasing quality Proudly South African products and services are the primary focus areas for phase two.”