Image and Reality in Zimbabwe

"Horrified directors of global marketing giant Young & Rubicam have begun a sell-off of their holdings in Zimbabwe, after learning the company's head was behind Robert Mugabe's election campaign image makeover," reports Rowan Philp. The head of the Zimbabwe firm, Imago Y&R, used "pop culture figures such as rapper Tupac Shakur and reggae icon Bob Marley to 'sex up' a campaign that Mugabe's own advisers called dismal." The firm also designed ads that labeled opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as being in "the losers club," claimed that Tsvangirai's party "has a reputation for violence," and mocked British and U.S. leaders. The UK Sunday Times reported that Imago's "benign images" of Mugabe "are a world apart from the cruel reality of Zimbabwe. Assaults with iron bars, clubs and guns were growing more frequent," and "more gruesome murders were recorded as a vicious crackdown against Mugabe's opponents intensified." The violence led the United Nations Security Council to declare it "impossible" for Zimbabwe to hold a fair election on June 27. Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change party have been receiving PR assistance from Fleishman-Hillard since at least May, reports O'Dwyer's.