Our marketing approach


South Africa overcame many negative perceptions about the country before and during the World Cup in 2010. Photo © Cape Town Tourism

Rumours abroad

South Africa – and therefore Cape Town – did not have a positive global reputation prior to the hosting of the World Cup, largely as a result of one-sided and exaggerated reporting on crime as our only defining characteristic as a country. It was imperative that these perceptions were changed for the better well ahead of time.

The issues of safety and security were not the only ones that were of concern to potential international visitors. Among other negative perceptions – shored up by pessimistic press reports – were that South Africa was overpriced and logistically lacking in infrastructure. This led to the opinion that it might be better to watch the event on TV, rather than incur the cost and risk of travelling to South Africa.

For Cape Town specifically, the fact that the games were to be held in winter – a season known in the Western Cape to be cold and rainy – was another factor to be considered.

And for the citizens of Cape Town, scepticism abounded. Why was taxpayers’ money being “wasted” on this event when there were so many other pressing social needs? Would South Africa be able to pull off a successful World Cup anyway? And even if we did, what part could Capetonians play in it – apart, of course, from massively hiking prices to “get rich quick”.

Countering negativity

Visitors to Cape Town were able to view World Cup 2010 matches in a safe and relaxed environment. Photo © Cape Town Tourism

The media

We needed to convince the international media that their perception of South Africa, and of Cape Town, wasn’t entirely accurate. Specifically, we needed to proactively address issues of the city’s readiness to welcome the world; safety and security; accommodation availability, accessibility (transport) and affordability (pricing); the Cape Town winter experience; and the legacy of the World Cup for Cape Town’s communities.

To do this, Cape Town Tourism appointed three international PR consultants to manage the reputation of the city in three of the key source markets where negative reporting and Afro-pessimism were most rife: the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

With a desire to continually improve Cape Town’s compelling destination brand and tourism offering, we sought agencies with fresh ideas, enthusiasm, and a thorough understanding of our beautiful city and its source markets. Our three new partners were clear choices to deliver this.

Cape Town Tourism’s international public relations partners are:

  • MTA Tourism Leisure – UK
  • Kleber PR Network – Germany, Austria and Switzerland
  • World Wide Tourism (formerly known as Tourism Africa) – Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland

Cape Town Tourism wanted to send out a clear message about what to expect in the city during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, but we were also mindful of the long-term sustainability of any intervention. Most countries who have staged mega events warned of tourism slumps after the fans go home and, as such, Cape Town Tourism mandated PR partners to adopt a sustainable outlook, focusing on the legacy potential of the World Cup rather than simply on the event itself.

Forging relations with invested partners in other regions became – and will remain – integral to Cape Town’s success. Our PR partners were retained after the completion of the tournament to ensure that we capitalised on the momentum of the World Cup with consistent PR and marketing messages in our key source markets. They were also tasked with providing insight and conducting research into public perceptions in their specific markets and to assist in proactively managing information and counteracting and correcting negative slants and misperceptions.

The international PR network educated the industry about Cape Town’s products and packages, working in conjunction with wholesale operators in order to promote the destination. This encompassed boosting trade engagements and developing leads through participation at international trade shows and other trade platforms. Partners also facilitated media coverage and destination features in both the trade and general media. These opportunities not only helped Cape Town gain visibility in operators’ storefronts and on their websites, but also reached prospective tourists directly through lifestyle, destination and news reporting in a variety of media outlets.

Back at home, Cape Town Tourism, in partnership with the local tourism industry, hosted the most influential media and trade representatives from key source markets, to ensure that they experienced the best of Cape Town and were fully informed ahead of the event.

In the immediate run-up to the World Cup, between January and June 2010, Cape Town Tourism hosted 205 international journalists and media channels. This included British breakfast TV show GMTV, CNN, BBC, Jornal do Brasil, National Geographic Traveller, BBC Radio, Sky Sports, the Associated Press, the inflight magazines of KLM and British Airways, the UK Press Association, ARD German TV, Univision in the USA, Australia’s Channel 7, FOCUS TV Germany, Discovery Channel and Der Tagesspiegel am Sonntag.

During the World Cup month, and as a result of careful planning, Cape Town Tourism was able to host more than 750 members of the media on tours and sightseeing excursions. This included the major newspaper and broadcasters and online platforms of the USA, the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, China, South Korea, Australia, Spain, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Japan, Uruguay, Cameroon and Ghana.

The outcome of these media trips is that millions of viewers and readers internationally were exposed to the media’s overwhelmingly positive response and coverage of the World Cup in Cape Town.

The industry

Cape Town Tourism attended all major trade shows, including World Travel Market in London, Vakantiebeurs in Utrecht, ITB Berlin, INDABA in Durban and Soccerex in Rio de Janeiro, so that we could engage with key trade members through targeted one-on-one meetings, thereby building a comprehensive database for 2010 trade communications. Cape Town Tourism also took these opportunities to distribute effective marketing tools, including a 2010 marketing toolkit on a flash drive, a Cape Town destination DVD (which was also flighted on key airlines) and the Cape Town Official Visitors’ Guide 2010.

Cape Town’s citizens

An important aspect of Cape Town Tourism’s destination branding was to get buy-in from the citizens of the city, including Cape Town Tourism staff, the media, industry members and ordinary civilians.

We wanted them to:

  • Have confidence in Cape Town’s ability to host a successful World Cup – to be “ready to welcome the world”
  • Embrace their role as passionate brand ambassadors, welcoming hosts and becoming unofficial tour guides – living the Cape Town. Live it! Love it! LOUDER! credo
  • Encourage visitors to explore and experience as much of Cape Town as possible and to discover that Cape Town winters really are cool, aided by the Cape Town 365 campaign
  • Encourage visitors to extend their stay in Cape Town so as to experience the areas beyond the city centre, in support of Cape Town Routes Unlimited’s Beyond the 90 Minutes campaign
  • Resist the temptation to hike prices unreasonably
  • Understand the long-term benefits of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™

Our citizen activation campaign and other initiatives achieved these objectives.

Cape Town Tourism’s 2010 e-newsletters

As part of our communications strategy, Cape Town Tourism built up valuable databases by distributing targeted monthly e-newsletters focusing on the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ to visitors, members, media and trade representatives.

  • Ten visitor e-newsletters were sent out between September 2009 and June 2010. The average open rate was 36.73% and the number of subscribers grew to 6 802.
  • Ten member e-newsletters were sent out during the same period. The average open rate was 31.51% and the number of subscribers grew to 2 393.
  • Seven media e-newsletters were sent out between January 2010 and June 2010. The average open rate was 25.35% and the number of media subscribers grew to 1 039.
  • Three trade e-newsletters were sent out between April 1 and May 19, 2010. The average open rate was 29.66% and the number of subscribers grew to 898