How we got our sponsors
Some of the most frequently asked questions we have been asked on this journey have related to our sponsors.
Everyone comments on the ZebraBus's sticker outfit; most of them after they recover from the laughing fit about the car looking like a zebra or, as it is called in North Africa, a bush donkey.
In nearly every town or village we have entered, we have been greeted with cries of: "Sony!" or "Kodak!"
Very many people have asked us how we managed to get our journey sponsored, especially by such big-name brands. So let me tell you the story of the sponsors of the Zebra Safari:
When Christian told me about his intended trip, the first thing that came to mind was: "Why don't you make a documentary about it?"
"Sure," Christian agreed, "but how?"
I was working as a TV commercial producer at the time. I had no idea where to start, but I was determined to at least give it a shot. I found out the name of the MD of Sony South Africa from a friend and dialed the company's main switchboard number and asked to speak to Jess Goedhals. I did not expect to get through to him directly, but at that moment everything worked for me (sometimes you need a little luck on your side) and I got through to the man himself. I was able to put forward my proposal and arranged to meet him a couple of weeks later (Jess is a very busy man).
With this initial success, Christian prompted me to attempt the same with suppliers of film and tyres and various other possibilities. I was a very busy girl the next two months, phoning complete strangers, arranging meetings and so forth. A lot of people said no, but a few said yes.
Christian and I put together a written proposal of who we were, what we were doing, what we wanted and what we could offer. Mainly we offered advertising space on the car (as everyone has noticed) and on our website, which at that stage was still in the process of being constructed. A very good friend of ours and also a web designer, Kath Shapshak, designed a very user-friendly site for us. Kath is one of the ZebraSafari's unofficial sponsors. Initially, we planned to do some video streaming on the site as well and JD, another friend of ours, agreed to host our site and assist us with the streaming of ZebraSafari footage.
Things were moving fast and the ZebraSafari team was working around the clock to get everything ready for our departure.
About two weeks before our initial planned depature date, 2 July 2001, nothing had yet come together. Sony had agreed in principle to loan us two state-of-the-art digital video cameras, but we had not yet taken posession of them.
Meanwhile, I was struggling to get a final go-ahead from Mike London, the MD of Goodyear South Africa, and I had reached a dead end with Kodak. Things were not looking very good and I became very despondent. Then one morning I received an e-mail from Kodak, referring me to their PR company, BMC, and a contact called Lee.
Suddenly everything turned around. Lee was the one who put the life back into me. What a pleasure it was to deal with her. She was friendly, fast and effecient. Within a week we had all the film we asked for from Kodak Consumer and Kodak Professional. At the same time, Mike London phoned me and said Goodyear would give us the six strong tyres we had asked for. By the way, the same four tyres that we left Johannesburg with are still on the car -- our two spares are still locked to the roofrack, brand new. We did not have a single puncture or blow-out all the way from Cape to Cairo, which speaks volumes for Goodyear's tough tyres.
We also took delivery of the video cameras and all the toys that go with them, plus a bonus of 10 DV tapes from Sony.
The only thing that did not want to work out was our website. JD's site was permanently under construction, and we were constantly promised that our site would go online "tomorrow". This posed a bit of a problem for us, as the website formed an integral part of the promises we made to our sponsors.
We continued preparing for departure, "dressed" the ZebraBus up nicely in her sponsors' branding, and ended up leaving three weeks later than planned, on the coldest day of the year, 22 July 2001.
And still no website. In Cape Town we finally gave up on JD and registered our own domain, www.zebrasafari.co.za, and the rest is history.
Another major sponsor of the ZebraSafari was Acadamy Brushware, owned by Gina's dad, Andrea Meneghelli. We were looking to buy ourselves a GPS, and had been offered a very good deal on one, when Andrea offered to loan us a brand new Garmin GPS III Plus. It was an offer we couldn't refuse.
With our sponsorships wrapped up, we were able to hit the road very well equipped for a trans-African safari.
But the sponsorship didn't end there. In the Okavango Delta in Botswana we met some very, very important unofficial sponsors of the ZebraSafari (and of me personally). On our mokoro safari in the Delta we met Adri, Anton and Warren, three South Africans on holiday. Upon hearing that we had no whisky aboard, and no budget for such luxuries, they sponsored us with two bottles of scotch!
The first bottle vanished within an hour on our last day at Jungle Juntion, when it was discovered that we had been hoarding the only bottle of scotch on the island after Jungle's supplies had been drunk dry four days previously. We were severely reprimanded and our punishment was Irish coffees for everyone. The second bottle lasted a bit longer, and died just before we left Ethiopia and entered Sudan, where alcohol is illegal and possession is punishable by flogging.