Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The great PPC advertising debacle

By 1967, Premier Portland Cement (Pvt) Ltd of Rhodesia (PPC), was inundated with complaints. Not for the quality of the product but the fact as soon as a bag was picked up it promptly split it seams or simply tore in half.

This resulted in many a Baas cuffing his faithful servant for 'Mekkin a bludda mess of my car boot and vellies, hey!'

With sanctions hitting hard, the Prime Minister was personally involved when a similar incident caused him to throw away an almost brand new safari suit. Threatening the PPC management with
several months of touring Gokwe Tribal Trusts lands on foot, naked except for a split bag on their heads to cover their shame, they raised the price and invested the new income on a sturdier bag.

Unquestionably, there was a huge improvement but when the PPC decided on an advertising campaign demonstrating the strength with the slogan 'Not even a grown man can punch his way out of our paper bags', that things were to go seriously wrong.

An extra large bag was specially made for the occasion and the advert would be filmed by self-employed camera man, Paddy Murphy, who had recently been extradited from Pakistan and he offered special rates. An amateur boxer from a Salisbury gym was given the unenviable job to attempt the task for $12,75 ($10 after deductions).

To stop the bag and its struggling combatant from falling over, it was quarter filled with quick setting powdered cement. The idea being that when he was eventually cut out of the bag, covered in a fine coat of grey, all would cheer as he gave a despondent smile of defeat. Well...that was the plan.

The boxer (no one remembers his name), was duly popped in and under a blazing midday sun was soon punching away amid the sounds of coughing reminiscent to a really bad morning smoker. After about 30 mins, the management and camera man wandered off for a two hour lunch break and left the hapless man pounding away in terrible desperation.

Returning (less Paddy Murphy, who had mysteriously disappeared along with the the senior management's BMW), the paper bag was rather still and made no sounds even when spoken to.
To much hilarity, the bag was cut open, and to everyone’s surprise, instead of a tired boxer sitting down, there was one standing, still punching, but perfectly encrusted in 2 inches of quick setting cement that obviously been created by his sweat.

A quick debate broke out. Ad hoc plans were scribbled on the back of a fag box. The disappearance of the boxer would be covered up as MIA (Missing In Action) whilst fighting, which was close to the truth. The body would be dispossessed in such a fashion that no one would raise an eyebrow should it be spotted and that would be that.
The picture shows a man walking past the boxer without raising an eyebrow.

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