iPod for nothing and your ears for free

If Telkom and Absa have got it right, the route to any journalist’s heart is through the ears. This appears to be the case as Telkom and Absa handed out free Apple iPods to all members of the media who attended their function earlier this week.

The companies used the occasion to announce the five-year, R1,7-billion contract they signed, whereby Telkom will provide an integrated end-to-network solution for 2 548 Absa sites.

The four-gigabyte iPod Nanos, which retail for about R1 600, were handed out in gift packs to all guests as they left the function.

One journalist estimated that there were at least 50 guests at the function, and that the two corporate giants spent about R80 000 on iPods alone.

The journalist said that the iPods, bearing brand names and loaded with music by Beethoven, were just the tip of the iceberg and described the function as “extravagant”, with guests treated to a four-course meal in the Michelangelo Hotel and entertained by a string ensemble.

“Most companies seem to be scaling back their functions,” said the journalist. “This event was really over the top.”

South African National Editors Forum chairperson Jovial Rantao said it was up to each editor to apply his or her newspaper’s code of conduct regarding gifts to journalists.

Nabintu Petsana, Telkom’s acting group executive for corporate communication, said the nature of the event was not unique in the corporate world. “In Telkom’s view, the biggest corporate retail deal in the history of the company warrants an event that celebrates in alignment with the brand,” said Petsana. “The corporate branded items were handed out to all guests — corporate and media guests alike — at the end of the event.

“Telkom does not believe that the ethics of our media stakeholders would be compromised by [giving out] corporate branded items as gifts,” said Petsana.

Absa’s Patrick Wadula said: “Although the event was jointly hosted by Telkom and Absa, Telkom took the lead in handling the logistics of the event. The gifts were not specifically targeted at the media but provided to all the guests, and it served as a souvenir for this significant moment in these two companies’ relationship going forward.”

A quick scan of News Google showed nine stories covering the announcement of the deal between Absa and Telkom.

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