Why the undercover Economist is entitled to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s long walk to freedom

The great and good (and doubtless not so good) of world politics are gathered in Soweto’s Soccer City today to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela and The Economist has produced a fitting tribute to the great man, courtesy of agency AMV/BBDO.

It will be the first of many such no doubt, as brands try to find a way to incorporate Mandela into their messages – without putting their size nines in it.

images-1But the Economist has an interesting connection with Mandela. When he was incarcerated on Robben Island the only reading materials allowed were academic works as the prisoners were allowed to study. Someone persuaded the prison authorities (clearly not the sharpest knives in the box) that The Economist was a weekly economics textbook rather than a political news weekly.

Eventually this wheeze was rumbled. Even so it’s a big, real feather in the Economist’s cap and so it has a real connection with Mandela that is certainly worth celebrating.

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