It takes an endorsement from three famous local faces to convince Gauteng motorists who aren’t paying for etolls or aren’t convinced of their “benefits”, to convert them to the pro-etolls side and get them etagged.

Or at least that’s what Sanral thinks.

Sanral (the South African National Roads Agency Limited) recently unveiled a series of adverts featuring entertainers Khanyi Mbau, Minnie Dlamini and Tbo Touch speaking about the benefits of etolls for Gauteng residents and ending off with an “encouraging” word to all motorists.

“When I first heard about etolls, I was just as mad as everyone else,” Dlamini says in her ad. “At the end of the day, etolls is for a higher quality of life, it’s for better roads, it’s for safety. And as a woman who drives a lot, I’m for those things…I’m for etolls.”

“I didn’t accept it at first,” says TBo Touch, real name Thabo Molefe, “I understand it’s not an easy thing…we enjoy better roads today, because someone conceptualised a better South Africa that’s gonna work beyond 2020. Let’s support etolling, it’s the right thing to do.”

Apart from the ridiculous scripting in these ads, it reeks of another bad attempt by Sanral to get residents etagged, a strategy they’ve used previously.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) in a recent post on its website, has laughed the campaign off, declaring it a “desperate tactic”.

“We have seen Sanral try every trick in the book to coax the public to support e-tolls, from threatening SMSes to a multi-million rand advertising campaign, the latest of which is an amusing selection of three celebrities who appear to have changed their minds, from once being opposed to the scheme, to now having suddenly fallen for the new desperate dispensation,” Outa said.

“The fact that Sanral has chosen to use celebrities to try and sell a defunct policy, as if it were a toothpaste or a washing powder, makes a mockery of the message they are trying to send to the people. Etolls will remain an irrational and unjust double tax for citizens, and no amount of sugar coating is going to sweeten the deal or get the people to change their minds to the levels required,”the alliance added.

The Twitterverse isn’t convinced either:

Obviously the thinking behind this is taken from public relations and marketing strategies that use famous people to support certain products or services, revealing how it makes their own lives better and urging ordinary citizens to do the same.

Usually consumers respond positively and buy into this because they want to be like their favourite celebrity, but sometimes this strategy back fires badly, especially when it’s an unwanted product that’s already riddled with controversy, like etolls.

Nice try Sanral.

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Watch the ads below.