Friday, November 6, 2009

Crafting the national team

Mpumemelo and Bliksem

As one of the opportunities (read "lean pickings") from the 2010 FIFA World Cup, crafters can make things which soccer tourists will buy. There is not a great deal of space, because FIFA has tied up the brand space so extraordinarily tightly, that really, one has to be a bit of a genius to navigate one's way to even the most megre profit out of the mega tournament.

For instance: you can't use the figures "2010" (or the word form) in relation to any or all of the following - the National flag; the words "World Cup"; or a soccer ball. Naturally the FIFA logo belongs to FIFA, and you would use it at your peril. We have heard of instances where a lollipop manufacturer made a wrapper in the form of a football, with the letters 2010 on it. FIFA sued. They have made it abundantly clear that they will tolerate absolutely no breach of the marks they have ownership over. If you could, in any way, reasonably infer that there is a relation to the tournament, they have ownership over it.

They own the words "Fan Fest" and "Fan Zone". They do not own the word "FanJol" because the Western Cape Provincial government has registered that name in its interest. (A "Jol" is a party, or a gathering where fun is happening. It is a Cape Flats word, which every South African understands. It is one of the few words in any language, which FIFA does not own!)

So, in our quest to find things which local people can benefit from, we commissioned this adult man sized wire figure, which we are calling Mpumelelo, which means "overcome" or "advance" in one of the local languages - isiXhosa, and his smaller (and as yet undressed) side-kick, Bliksem which is another local word, meaning "to anhialate", or "to destroy". It also has a playful meaning, because it is an extremely strong word - and one wouldn't necessarily take it very seriously if someone threatened to Bliksem you.

We are going to take these figures with us, to major events and to shopping malls and other public places. It is unlikely that a tourist is going to buy them - because they are pretty bulky. But they will point to the other amazing wire work talent which we have in this part of the world. Smaller figurines, dressed in the colours of all of thew participating teams; wire ear-rings, in the form of soccerballs; wire cups and saucers, with the word "CUP" in beads on the cup - (Sorry FIFA, you don't own cups!) and a host of other really imaginative items.

Hopefully, the football tourists, (who seem, from all the research, to be extremely single-minded, wanting to watch soccer, drink, eat and have a place to stay - and not much else) will be amazed by our wire crafting skills. And hopefully one or two of our wire crafters will be able to look back on the tournament and feel that they benefitted directly from it.

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