Puma's extraordinary ad on Kingston's streets
The power of a good ad flows from its ability to strike at the gut and extract an emotional response. Its power also rests in simplicity; it must leave space upon which one can lay one's own narrative. Puma's latest ad now blanketing the streets of Kingston is an example.
With the tagline 'And then Jamaica conquered England' acting as the foundation and a flag-clad Usain Bolt staring to the future, the ad has created a buzz on social media.
The reasons for the ad's success are numerous. It is the contrast of a pensive and solitary young man set against the way we usually see him: gallivanting, posing, dominating. Visually, its stark white background contrasts with what usually surrounds Bolt: a stadium of roaring fans, the media's flashing bulbs, and the red rubber of the track.
Because to be sure, the image of an exuberant, supremely confident Bolt celebrating his Olympic record-breaking feats with his signature lightning pose is now iconic. The 26-year-old Bolt is the epitome of success: a finely honed human being at his absolute peak, giving a performance that is the result of unparalleled talent, unmatched hard work and unsurpassed dedication.
The use of Bolt's image, captured from behind, is also powerful, as it positions consumers as observers: we are watching a young man ponder his future. Where can he go from here? What more can he achieve?
For Jamaicans, he need not achieve anything else. As far as citizens are concerned, he is a hero on par with Bob Marley or Jimmy Cliff. Jamaicans are eagerly awaiting his return, so much so that there is a cry for a national holiday to celebrate his achievements, as well as those of his teammates, who, combined, won 12 Olympic medals.
The Jamaican athletics team's performance reinforced in this nation a confidence already lodged in its psyche, but that has been challenged by social problems like unemployment, crime and financial difficulties.
More than celebration
However, Puma's ad strikes deeper than an ecstatic celebration of sporting victory and the claim of the title of the fastest man in the world.
With its reference to the complicated and heart-wrenching relationship between these nations, Puma has evoked the history of colonisation.
Look, the ad whispers, you conquered our land, now we conquer your culture, your sports and a title of global excellence. And we did it in a civilised, modern fashion using the universal language of sport and culture.
Perhaps the Puma executives had in mind a poem from Louise Bennett Coverley, another beloved Jamaican who celebrated the nation's culture and embraced the use of Patois. Here's an excerpt from a Bennett poem.
An week by week dem shippin off
Dem countryman like fire,
Fe immigrate an populate
De seat a de Empire.
Oonoo see how life is funny,
Oonoo see de tunabout?
The poem paints the picture of the challenges and opportunities faced by Jamaican immigrants as they make a new life in the UK. This story is ongoing, as the ad references: "And then Jamaica conquered England." This statement begs a precedent sentence, with the intuitive phrase being "England conquered Jamaica."
Thus, another layer of brilliance to Puma's ad: the effects of colonialism continue to impact everything from culture to international relations to sports. But with Bolt's win, Jamaica has written a new chapter to the story.
Concerned about TRN use
In recent weeks I have been having some concerns about the number of places I go and am required to provide my tax registration number (TRN), as well as the number of parents/guardians who have asked me to sign documents because they are applying for a TRN for their under-18-year-old child.
With these in mind, I went to the Tax Administration website to find out the purpose of a TRN and saw the following:
Q. Why TRN?
A:The TRN system facilitates Government's computerisation programme for the revenue departments, and aid in improving tax administration and provide better service to the public. TRN provides more reliable information to taxpayers regarding their accounts and will eventually become taxpayers' driver's licence number upon application for a driver's licence.
Q. How will TRN help taxpayers?
A: Through the elimination of varied numbers and duplicated information used by the revenue departments for the same taxpayer. [And] To create and maintain accurate files for taxpayers for easy retrieval on taxpayers' files.
Who needs a TRN?
a. All taxpayers, including those who do business with revenue departments.
b. Businesses and other organisations.
Having noted this, I still do not understand why the TRN is needed for persons who are not working or for non-tax matters. I understand that employers and related agencies would need it for tax purposes, but for other places I don't understand. Is there a law that protects me or prohibits those who want it for these 'other reasons', especially because 'everybody else is asking for it'?
The other big question is why a child who can't and does not pay taxes needs a TRN. And if children are eligible for one, why can't they apply on their own strength but parents/guardians have to apply on their behalf.
I have heard it said that Jamaica wants the TRN to be like a Social Security card as in the USA. If this is correct, it needs to be properly investigated, because there are consequences.
What we do not know is that there are many children who are indebted before they are old enough to get a job because adults put them there because of this number. The same can be applicable here, if a child is not able to work to pay taxes, what is the purpose of a TRN for those under age 18 years.
I will also dare to ask what is the purpose of a TRN for every little transaction you do, especially now that we have learnt that TRNs and driver's licence are being falsified.
The other observation is that a number of organisations are using TRN as staff/members' number. Can any organisation take on to itself and decide to use a TRN as a critical piece of information to be included on, for example, a work ID without permission from the relevant government body?
TRNs are not supposed to be free-for-all information and should only be disclosed in critical matters.
More buses needed for schoolchildren
Why is it that on Wednesday, September 5, 2012, when most schools were reopened, some children were left stranded at bus stops.
I think the relevant authority should ensure that enough buses are out, especially on the first week of the new school year.
I drove past Windward Road, East Queen Street, Orange Street, Molynes Road, Washington Boulevard and the bus stops were full.
Since the relevant authority is on the verge of getting the illegal taxis, better known as 'robots', off the streets, in the meantime they should make provisions for enough bus on the routes.
It hurts to see so many children at the bus stops looking so desperate to get transportation to school. I am appealing to the relevant authority to put measures in place so that the children can get to school on time in the mornings.
Development, not 'dough'
Paul H. Williams' article 'From crying man to 'Under Di Rock', published in the September 5 edition of Hospitality Jamaica, makes me wonder if he has ever spoken to anyone that lives in Port Antonio. Did he ever think to ask what we want for our hometown?
"Raking in the dough" is the wrong way to imagine Port Antonio. How about a viable infrastructure with reliable water and electricity and usable roads that allow us more than one way in and out of our home parish?
How about a sewerage system that doesn't befoul the town and harbour? We want what Kingston and Montego Bay and Ocho Rios take for granted. Then leave the rest to us. We don't need ersatz bogus 'tourism', as envisioned in 'Ochi' or Falmouth or MoBay.
Portland is naturally beautiful, and that is how we like it.
Just let Kingston and the powers that be back us with the investment from our taxes and we can do the rest.
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