With the news of Apple’s Steve Jobs taking ill, many are wondering about the future of the Apple brand without a Steve Jobs. There is no argument that the man is a marketing genius and Apple’s investment in really innovative marketing.  has radically propelled the share price of that company from $22.50 towards the end of 2003 to above $340 today, which is a massive return.

So we wonder what somebody like Steve Jobs would be able to accomplish if he were appointed the South African Minister of Marketing. Somebody that could package South African products, services and its image to the rest of the world in the same way Apple does with technology products.

In the age of global consumerism this would kinda make sense.

Before Steve Jobs and Apple computers where a commodity. He gave them a strong brand, a strong sense of design and charged a huge premium for that. Why then can’t the same thing be done for our fresh produce, our design, our commercial offerings [besides tourism], which in most cases are far superior to similar products from the rest of the world, but our poor farmers and entrepreneurs have to struggle with commodity pricing in the open market rather than offering a uniquely branded, quality South African product at a premium. We are underselling ourselves as a country and the affects are that we are missing a HUGE opportunity. Never before has a country of our capacity and skill set been presented with such a perfect storm of global economic circumstances to exploit.

We don’t have anything close to a Minister of Marketing. We have the Minister of Trade and Industry – oh and a Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism being Marthinus van Schalkwyk [cough], but there really doesn’t seem to be any focus at all on positioning South African products as a cut about the rest. We’re aware that BrandSA puts out a few marketing campaigns that show off our beautiful landscapes and talks of the heritage of Africa and all that kinda yawn inducing, stereotypical stuff. They even hold focus groups among thousands of people and change the marketing line every now and again at great expense to taxpayers, but what are they doing on the ground to tangibly promote and sell the products and business what we have to offer?

If Steve Jobs were Minister of Marketing he’d probably be making sure that the range of products that we are offering the world are remarkable. He’d hold inspiring workshops and seminars for free to budding entrepreneurs in every available library and school hall. He would offer hands-on suggestions for products that he thought we’d have a critical advantage in selling to the world. There would be booklets and pamphlets on how to run a successful business and effectively structure your marketing strategy in public toilets and bus shelters everywhere. There would be support hot lines, structured government angel funding, continuous publicly available academic insight from our top universities. Small business and entrepreneurs would be nurtured and guided so that their chances of success beyond the borders of South Africa are greatly increased.

We just think that if South Africa is going to get serious about reducing our alarming levels of  unemployment and becoming a real developing force to be reckoned on a world stage, it’s just not possible without a strong Minister of Marketing inspiring all of us to work together to collectively accelerate our economic prospects.

Apple became one of the most powerful companies on earth through very effective and clever marketing, there’s no reason why the same strategy wouldn’t work for a country like South Africa.

Even if pockets of this vision are already happening, it’s just not good enough. There are a few vague attempts that happen behind closed doors, but nothing hugely urgent or concrete.

This mission should be a national priority and tackled seriously like AIDS awareness and support for the Proteas. The Minister of Marketing should make an annual address in parliament – like the budget speech, that we debate and wait for the whole year long. This is our future we’re talking about. In a world driven by commerce nothing is more important, we should be gloriously bathed in it constantly, not searching for it through a sea of government red tape.

The opportunity has presented itself – somebody get Steve Jobs on the line and offer him the job.