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#OrchidsandOnions: Proving speed is of the essence

Having a nose for news: Kudos to Checkers, The British Embassy and Nomu; Retroviral's Sixty60 campaign funny and a reminder it is there for you.
#OrchidsandOnions: Proving speed is of the essence

Confession time: I have not watched The Tinder Swindler on Netflix. But – and here is the power of the media, not just the much-maligned ‘mainstream’, but also social – I have certainly heard about the series and its sad, sometimes funny (because it’s hard to believe) tales of gullibility.

The Tinder Swindler is a slick, fast-talking dude who has conned a collection of women (many of them South Africans) out of their cash with his lies. The one which seems to get the female suckers going is where he anguishes that “my enemies are after me”, followed by a plea to send large amounts of cash.

Maybe because it’s not an obvious 419 scam, some were taken in – although, to be honest, really...?

But that phrase – “my enemies are after me” has gone viral, proving that the absurd still has a strange magnetic attraction.



The Checkers home-delivery app, Sixty60 (via its agency, Retroviral), quickly seized the opportunity to own the phrase in the commercial space. Speed was of the essence because nothing goes past its best-before date like an internet meme.

So Retroviral put together social media plugs for Sixty60, plus a video of the supposed swindler himself, pointing out that, because he is ‘in hiding’ from his ‘enemies’, he needs to have food and basic necessities delivered.

It is funny and it showcases not only some of the items you can buy and have delivered, but is a reminder that Sixty60 is there for those times when you don’t want to (or can’t) go out shopping.

Good advertising is that which capitalises on societal talking points and which is up to date with the news. This is exactly that. So it gets Orchids for Checkers Sixty60 and for Retroviral.


It clearly helps to have someone with a nose for news in your agency - point proven by Retroviral.

English is a funny language


Another online talking point is the word game Wordle. Invented, so I hear, by a Welshman by the name of Wardle – and sold recently to The New York Times – Wordle gives you six chances to guess a five-letter word.

It’s addictive, trust me. But, given research has shown doing mind games and puzzles helps keep any brain fresh and sharp, it’s no bad thing; although the facility which enables people to share their results is a tad annoying, especially if you’ve failed and someone you follow is smirking at their own cleverness.

This week, though, there was outrage in cyberspace because the word was, allegedly, spelt in ‘American English’. I saw people moaning about that on Twitter and, naturally, went on to Wordle, where I got it first time out.

#OrchidsandOnions: Proving speed is of the essence

The word was ‘humor’, which is one of the most irritating Americanisms (to me anyway). Pedants pointed out (with some validity) that ‘humor’ in its Shakespearean form, refers to bodily fluid.

The opportunity for clever social media teams was too much to resist. One of the best was from the British Embassy in Washington, which interrupted its serious timeline (Ukraine, Putin, blah,
blah, blah) to have a gentle go at its hosts by posting a completed Wordle grid with an extra letter, pointing out that in English (not the dialect abused by ‘Murricans’) the spelling is ‘humour’.

Not that you’ll see this in the embassy in Washington, chaps, but jolly good show and a jolly good Orchid for you.

And on that note


Commercially, a local brand to also take quick advantage (see above: speed is of the essence) was Nomu, a Cape Town-based food and lifestyle brand, which “aims to inspire creative kitchens anywhere in the world, using only the very best quality ingredients to create consistently amazing flavours, whether you’re an expert or an absolute novice.”

Nomu’s riposte was to post an enlarged Wordle grid with the word Flavour at the top. The kicker was down below: You only need four letters to spell Flavour, even if you’re American - with the Nomu brand logo below it.

Simple, clever and timeous. An Orchid for Nomu.


About Brendan Seery

Brendan Seery has been in the news business for most of his life, covering coups, wars, famines - and some funny stories - across Africa. Brendan Seery's Orchids and Onions column ran each week in the Saturday Star in Johannesburg and the Weekend Argus in Cape Town. Contact him now on moc.liamg@4snoinodnasdihcro

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