Fit for King off-peak rates, ZNBC-TV

Date: January 1, 1970
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This ad pictures a roaring lion and a king’s crown with a voice-over in the background saying, “To us our customer is king. Be a king with our off-peak rates; fit for the king.À It advertises mobile phone service call rates. It was sponsored by Cell Z, a wing of the Zambia Telecommunications Company Limited (ZAMTEL).

This article may be used to:
1. Illustrate gender-blind advertising, which does not take into account the implications for men and women.
Trainer’s notes:
Why is this advert gender-blind? Firstly, it carries the masculine symbol of a male lion, and uses this symbol and a king’s crown to reinforce the idea that Cell Z customers are treated like kings. These male-oriented references imply that only male subscribers of Cell Z are important. It also implies that only men subscribe to the network, which is not true. The female subscribers are insignificant despite the millions of Kwacha they are pumping into the company through talk time purchases. If off-peak rates are fit for the king, they should as well be fit for the queen. Why not use both a lion and lioness to signify the gender balance of Cell-Z customers?
It would be worth noting whether or not this is the only Cell Z advert currently running. If this is only one in a series for their current campaign, the content, symbolism and references in those should be analysed concurrently with this advert. However, if this is the only advert running, it brings Cell Z advertisers’ assumptions and perceptions of who uses their service into question.
Discussion Questions:
1. Do you think Cell Z was intentionally targeting male cellphone users? Why or why not? What assumptions are they making about men by doing this?
2.  Should there be a separate advert targeting women running concurrently with this one, or should this advert be changed to target both men and women?
3. How would you change this advert?
Training exercises:
1. Break the participants into small groups and ask them to:
a)                 Interpret the symbols used in the advert
b)                 Analyse the words used in the advert and indicate whether they are gender-sensitive or insensitive.
c)                  What are the implications on gender equality?  Each group must elect a secretary to make the report-back.
2. Ask each participant to write in half a page what they think about the advert: Does it promote or perpetuate gender discrimination? How could it be improved?
3. Have the participants break into groups and write new scripts for this advert. Ask each group to perform their new scripts and explain their choices of imagery and text. Allow the other groups to analyse each other’s work.


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