How to fix Bok Rugby. Start with the Bok Brand.

16 April 2024, Tuesday






To hear some tell it, April 23 1985 was a day that will live in marketing infamy… spawning consumer angst the likes of which no business has ever seen.  





Even the greatest brands sometimes get it wrong.

Great brands do falter at times, but the truly great brands are the ones that bounce back stronger.

In this article , I draw a few parallels to help ‘Our Bokke’  bounce back onto the road called  Sustained Success and Significance.

aaaa960In 1985, Coca –Cola faced with plummeting market shares, made their move.

Believing they were in the business of great taste and backed by extensive research they introduced NEW COKE.

They believed Coke’s one thing was: GREAT TASTE.

They were to learn the hard way, to find out that Coke’s one thing was: A GREAT AMERICAN TRADITION.

Coca Cola’s switchboard crashed overnight. Americans revolted. Americans said NO.

Coke knew instantly that they had made a big mistake, re- introducing Classic Coke and the brand bounced back even stronger. Americans said thank you for listening.

We missed what we had.

Coke learnt a valuable lesson and restated their brand purpose:

to create open happiness.

From disaster spurned opportunity. This is what great brands do.

Some people might even tell you that Coca Cola planned the move.

aaaa3064102-inline-i-1-tiger-woods-entrepreneur-inside-the-superstars-new-startup-tgrHere’s another great brand which has recently faltered:

Brand Tiger Woods.

For more than a decade Tiger dominated world golf. Today he’s ranked at a lowly 786.

And it’s not on the technical side of the game where Tiger has got it wrong.

Tiger fell into the trap of  :

Chasing the Game.

And chasing the game will take even the greatest brands down the road called ”Burn Out.”

Tiger eventually wore himself out with his obsessive focus on the goal he had set for himself – to chase down Jack Nicklaus’s record 18 majors.

Great brands are built by focusing on the journey, not chasing the result.

Great brands achieve great clarity on their higher purpose in life . For a sporting superstar like Tiger, his purpose should read like this:

To Entertain,  to Educate and to Enrich the lives of others through his god given talent.

If Tiger could focus on just that ,  THE ONE THING WHICH HE IS GREAT AT  ,  and forget the chase – the result – he would automatically relieve the unrelenting pressure he unwittingly stacks on himself.

If you want to have a chance – you have to give yourself a chance.

Note: Tiger has recently launched his new brand interests  : TGR .Tiger Woods Ventures ,with the help of brand experts Sub Rosa , so maybe things are about to change for this sporting superstar – or maybe not,  if he keeps placing pressure on himself  ?


The Springbok brand is another brand which is currently in the crosshairs – and at high risk of going down the road called ‘Burn out ‘ .

Many rugby fans and past players have recently taken to social media to share their heartfelt views on Bok rugby, but as one of my great mentors once told me:

Nobody has ever won a test match from the grandstand

A quick reality check and diagnosis on the Bok Brand reveals the following:


  • There’s little alignment between key stakeholders – who do not agree on the Bok Brand’s one thing.


  • There’s no clear Brand Blueprint to take the brand forward.


  • There’s a high degree of chasing the game – the result – by trying to enforce racial quotas.


It’s high time to RETHINK, REFINE and REBOOT.

The Bok Brand owns a very powerful branding proposition – one which is of national importance:

THEIR ONE THING is called:


And their brand blue print should read along these lines:


to Create National Gees

Priorities: (The Four Pillars of Success)


Operational Excellence

Development & Diversity


Performance Goals:


  1. Invest in Bok Brand as per four priorities/ the four pillars of success  :  this entails Entertaining ( winning ) , Educating and Enriching lives of all stakeholders
  2. Capitalise on our national strength in diversity
  3. Host Rugby World Cup 2023


What SA Rugby needs is someone with the innate talent to unite diverse stakeholders in mutual trust and purpose.

aaaarwc-2013-lrgWe all witnessed how Soccer World Cup 2010 united our great nation.

It’s vital that we now leverage Rugby World Cup 2023 to do the same.

RWC 2023 is the lure to get more people – more players into the game .

Someone needs to get us all singing off the same hymn sheet fast .

We need to play to our strengths, one of which is our national diversity.

However, trying to enforce racial quotas will do little to create national gees – as it risks placing a once potent brand on a bumpy road to burn out.

We need to keep investing in diversity and development, but understand that winning in sport demands picking the very best.

To be the best – you must pick the best

We have some of the greatest players in the world, but it will be near impossible for them to perform against the very best in the world  – given the ongoing non – alignment of the Bok Brand Blueprint.

Twickenham is going to be a huge challenge,  unless we can inject some new found Faith , Confidence and Belief .

 If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one – Russian Proverb

Rob Opie is a Brand Strategist, Author, Speaker, and Performance Coach to Business executives, Corporate teams, Sports teams and Individuals.


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