Advertising takes on Mugabe in 2009 – From the MEK Archives
A feared despot, Mugabe, renders your national currency worthless. An unrelenting national crisis emerges. Now what? Back in 2009, the barbaric antics of now-former Zimbabwean president-for-life Robert Mugabe were annihilating both people and economics alike in the formerly prosperous southern African nation. As western governments looked the other way, TBWA in London took action. The firm collected trillions of worthless Zimbabwean dollars and put them to a new use: an international ad campaign. The 2009 advertising effort (see below) tried to raise awareness and energize action against Mugabe’s then-harsh suppression of free speech. Here’s the original 2009 MEK blog content:
Worthless Zimbabwean Currency Used in Outdoor Campaign
To call attention to the deplorable situation in Zimbabwe, TBWA\HUNT\LASCARIS collected trillions of dollars worth of worthless Zimbabwe currency to create billboards, flyers and wallpaper. The purpose of the campaign is to support the Zimbabwean Newspaper which has been slapped by the Mugabe regime with a 55% luxury duty tax making the paper unaffordable to most citizens.
The campaign is running in England and South Africa where it is hoped people will buy the newspaper to support its ongoing coverage of the country’s plight.
Thousands tortured, killed by Mugabe regime
This copy (above) from the March 2009 former “MEK Marketwatch” blog, noted British advertising firm TBWA’s effort to promote justice on behalf of the devastated Zimbabwean people. Throughout most of his rule, Mugabe’s atrocities were legion. As the Economist magazine points out: “In 1983 he unleashed his special forces (trained by North Korea) on the Ndebele [a rival Zimbabwe political party and tribe], raping, torturing and murdering thousands of civilians. Survivors of village massacres were forced to dance on their neighbours’ mass graves, singing praise to the ruling party, Zanu-PF, in the language of the Shona majority.”
In addition to mass torture and murder, Mugabe — known to many as “Comrade Bob” — ushered in insane economic policies that created legendary hyper-inflation in excess of 500 billion percent, according to Johns Hopkins economists. The rate was beyond comprehension. In 2009, paycheck time was also panic time. Freshly issued payroll was nearly worthless before Zimbabweans could spend it on foodstuffs and other essentials. The TBWA British ad campaign underscored this economic travesty with more than $1 trillion of worthless Zimbabwean dollars made into flyers, billboards and advertisements.
With Mugabe’s reluctant resignation in November 2017, many celebrated. Unfortunately, the upfront would-be Zimbabwean leaders on deck hold their own checkered past. As the Economist magazine glumly notes, a “bloodstained crew of plotters make unlikely national saviours.” Following Mugabe’s ouster, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson hinted at an invitation for Zimbabwe to seek its former independent Commonwealth status to help stabilize the southern African nation’s economy and advance toward prosperity. With truly free elections in the devastated nation, the new leaders could “make clear to the Commonwealth and to the world that Zimbabwe fulfills the criteria on human rights, on rule of law, on democracy, that are necessary for Commonwealth membership.”
Let us hope for real national elections and an end to suffering.
Michael Snyder – MEK Managing Principal