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Monday, April 22, 2019

Movies and Eiffel Tower Burgers at the French Toast Coffee and Cafe in Hartbeespoort, South Africa

In the Moment

People in South Africa are forever trying to escape reality. 

Caught between yearning for a greater tomorrow and memories of a much better past, they are masters at creating a different world from the one they have and perpetuating cliches about times and places they would rather be. 

It is probably the only place on the planet where you can have a hotdog better than one in New York, pizza that is done better than in Italy, and Swiss cheese made better than in Switzerland. It only fits then that you also have a little bit of Paris in Hartbeespoort that is in some respects better than the real deal.

It is called the French Toast Coffee Cafe.



South Africans are an industrious bunch. Regardless of geographic isolation and years of culture detachment and division, they don't shy away from the challenge to innovate and create something in the image of what they think it should be.

They are masters of cliche. If they think Texas is about barbeque, then they will make it more barbeque than Texas. If they believe Paris is about love, South Africans will make it more about love than it can ever be. If they think the French eat French Toast burgers, then that is what you will get at a French-themed coffee shop in Harties, and it is likely to be better than even the best French Culinary Master would be able to make.

On our recent trip to South Africa, we met up with our long-time friend and fellow movie maker, Paul Kruger. He is the maker of the Eiffel Burger, proprietor and creator of the French Toast Coffee Cafe, and initiator of a series of destination-themed dining and weekend experiences in Hartbeespoort Dam.

His business came about because Paul's invested in movie sets. Hartiwoodfilms, another of his companies, is responsible for a mini-renaissance in Afrikaans language movies with successful productions such as Liefling, Pretville and you guessed it - French Toast! The dining experiences became an extension of the movie brands, and the investment he made in the film settings was repurposed to continue beyond the movies.

While the movies were doing a phenomenal job at exploiting the cliches in the Afrikaner mind, Paul seized the opportunity to turn an average financial return from moviemaking in a small and niche market, into a popular merchandising and destination themed-experience goldmine. Disney's been doing it forever. Trust a South African to try and do it better!

If his Eiffel Burger and the line-up of people waiting to be served on weekends is a testimony to his success, I think Paul hit the jackpot.

Making Milkshakes

Paul showed us how to make his monster Eifel Tower burger at French Toast Coffee Cafe.

We tried to finish one while we discussed the perils of entrepreneurship and owning a business in a country ready to confiscate your property at any moment. "It is about job creation", Paul said. The more people you include and involve in your enterprise in South Africa the more people can have an opportunity to benefit from your work.

While government corruption in South Africa is as rampant, as it usually is in the developing world, the ultimate focus for these businesses and their entrepreneurs, on the ground, is job creation and upliftment. Regardless of the country's difficult circumstances, and the hardship of movie makers and content producers to get paid in South Africa as it is anywhere in the world, Paul convinced us that there are still opportunities with the right approach.

In his own words, "I make movies to sell milkshakes". Herein lies the most important lesson for us, the Two Cowboys. It should be a lesson for most fellow content producers. We should use our content production and promotional power to sell our own 'milkshakes'!


There is merit in trying to convince clients of the power of good online content's ability to build their businesses and promote their products or services. However, it's getting harder and harder for us, as content producers to make a business of it.

Instead, the value of good production and storytelling have been destroyed as a result of factors such as the proliferation of high-quality cameras, the ease of basic editing tools, online self-publishing and an avalanche of social and other media content. Even robots are in on the act of stitching together a few images, music and some text in a 'video' or a news 'article' for so-called publishers.

Gone are the true journalists, producers, directors, editors and publishers. Now, 'anyone' can be a writer, videographer and a publisher, and the real professionals are poorer because of it. So is the audience when their intelligence is insulted, and their time wasted. However, that is a story for another time.

As marketers, we know that good and well-made content, delivered to the right audience, works to build a business, sell wares, engage customers, entice prospects, and grow a brand. In a world where advertising and promotions moved online, a successful business has no choice but to have good, engaging, positive, informative, authentic and well-produced content, and lots of it. It gets and holds customer attention.

Having no content is fatal when a prospect's attention comes at a premium. Simply, out-screaming your opposition no longer works either. Audiences merely click or swipe away. Poor content like bad reviews, meh pictures, amateurish or meaningless slow motion feel-good music videos on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, is equally compelling in destroying budgets and damaging brands.

For an excellent example of how not to do it, have a look at Tourism Associations' online marketing efforts. They are the last to discover how a colossal and useless waste of time and money meaningless feel-good content is for marketing. It is because they don't spend their own cash on it. If it was their own money they would have already been confronted by reality, and most probably fired their social media managers and supposed 'content' departments and 'influencers'.

With online media consolidating, the Facebooks and Googles of the world are again making it harder for businesses to get access to, and communicate with prospective customers. There are solid examples and their own admission of how they actively force businesses to buy the attention of prospects. They do it by lowering search rankings and limiting content access within people's social media feeds. Heck, they are even paid to manipulate national elections!

Unless a business is prepared to put out for a few AdWords or pay for Boosting a post, you can kiss communicating with your prospective and existing customers goodbye. These companies are not in the business of giving you free access to prospects, and they are not charities. Look at their profits. Selling access to users' attention is how they make their money! When you spend money for eyeballs with these elephants, you better be sure that the eyeballs you get have something enjoyable, engaging, and informative to see.

We predict that there will be a time again when access to an audience becomes so expensive that businesses will no longer hesitate to invest in good quality content to draw and keep prospects' attention. Then there will be demand again for good content producers like the Two Cowboys.

Until that happens, we should use our capabilities to produce content about, and sell our own milkshakes, burgers, beard oil, brewing ingredients, tours, cabins and RV's. That is why a movie guy became a milkshake guy.

We congratulate Paul for setting the example.

Milkshake Cowboy

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Paris, Really?!

Movie Making


Movie Maker


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