Seventeen's Project BFF

It would more aptly have been called "Mission" BFF, because that's exactly what it was.

When Pearl and I were trying to figure out where I had to be using Google Maps two nights before, it had seemed simple enough. Almost too simple, in fact, as it looked like the building I had to be at was literally just down the street from the Gautrain station.

Well. I got off the train. And I started up the street to my left, but when I saw Sandton City up ahead I thought '...this can't be the right way'- so I turned back.
I walked to the other side of the station, and when I saw a sign saying "Sandown" I thought ' can't be far now'.
Yeah, right.
I walked, and walked. Then I asked a security guard for directions. He was useless, so I carried on walking.
Then I started getting lost. I asked a few more security guards. The first two obviously don't have very interesting lives, because as they sent me back the way I came I heard them call after me in tones of "...if you weren't lost, I'd so be there"- it was creepy. The last guy almost sent me all the way back to the first two, but when I told him I'd already been that side, he told me to follow the road until I got to the garage, then ask at the hotel next to it. So more walking. By this time, I'm starting to feel a burning in my ankles- it's all just uphill and winding in Sandton, I swear!
I pass the garage, and ask at the hotel. The men there are less useless than the security guards, and I'm soon on my way. Up again. Past another shopping centre, and a deceptively named office block- which I pass, as it is not on the street that the man at the hotel mentioned.

Up ahead is another hotel. I stop to ask for directions for what I hope will be the last time. What the security guard tells me sounds pretty simple, so I start walking again.

At this point, all I really want is for the Media24 offices to magically appear in front of me- and not like a mirage, which disappears as soon as the haggard desert traveller reaches out for some "water". No. In a real, 'this is where you need to be' type of way. I reach a fork in the road. No, seriously: I actually stood there on Fredman St, which goes both ways, and tried to decide whether to go left or right. I go right. Up, up, up. And up. By now I am beyond frustrated: where is this place? I consider aborting the mission and coming back to Braamfontein, but I reprimand myself: 'no- you've come too far'. After standing on the island and mustering the courage, I go back in the direction I came: maybe left was the better choice.
I stumble on the sidewalk, and it occurs to me that- had I known this would turn into a hiking trip- I would've worn takkies. Now I have bunions- not cool.
Okay, so- left. I go down the street, and then I see it: a street sign saying "Sandown Valley Crescent". "You have got to be kidding me!" I say. Now I'm where I need to be? Now? When I'm ready to just go home and forget the whole thing? When I've been walking in circles, in this scorching heat, on an empty stomach- while dodging the advances of creepy security guards? Really?

Before I faint, I turn right into the office building, and ask the guards at the underground parking how to get up to the 2nd floor. One of them comes with me in the lift, and when we get to the Media24 office, it's locked. Great. There are definitely people inside, though, because I can hear voices. The guard knocks- there's no answer. I try calling the reception, but the number is connected to a different phone, because the one at this reception isn't ringing at all. After about 5 minutes, a man comes out from the offices, and I walk in before he closes the door behind him. Finally, it looks like I'm getting somewhere. I quickly formulate an excuse in my head as I approach the room from which the voices are coming: it's a little after 13:00- and the focus group started at 12:00. As I walk into the room, all I can manage is "I'm so sorry", as I try to find a seat without disturbing The Voice- who actually turned out to be someone I knew! "Small world" indeed.

Although I'm sure the girls had lots of fun creating the 'Good Ad, Bad Ad' posters they were presenting when I got there, I know I was in no state to do cut and paste work at that moment.
They each had interesting things to say about what appeals to them (and what doesn't) about brands and products, though. Thanks to a pretty risque Marc Jacobs ad in one of the other publications which Media24 handles, the "sex sells" debate was raised:

 Some said it (sex) works, and others questioned the message such ads really send out to the youth- sensible points, overall. Personally, I think that this ad is just like Marc: provocative, and unconventional. I mean, who else in the fashion world can go from a bob and a skirt to using litres of baby oil and tin foil as the "outfit" for his latest fragrance?

I arrived in time to answer some general questions about brand awareness and loyalty- 'do you influence the brands your parents buy?'; 'how would you describe your favourite magazine- if it were an animal?'- and then after that it was goodie bag time. Yay! I needed something to console me after I had such a tough time finding the place- and if this is what a consolation prize is like, I could take one home every day!

DVDs, a mug, shades, and make-up? Come on, now- what else could I want?
I was so impressed by the goodie bag, I went out and bought this month's issue of the magazine as soon as I got back- just so I could somehow extend my Seventeen experience.

Apart from the whole getting lost thing, this experience was so worth it: I got to see what a market researcher does at a magazine, I had the privilege of taking a tour of the Media24 offices and listening to someone who's been doing this for a while tell me how to go about getting myself at the top too.
Also: I took the Gautrain for the first time! It was so cool- Rosebank to Sandton in 4 minutes. And for R19, as opposed to a cab driver's R100, I think I'll be going to Sandton City much more often.Where are all the "After the World Cup..." naysayers now?

I'm tired, my legs will punish me for treating them so badly tomorrow, and I didn't get as many pictures as I would've liked to, but at least I took the opportunity that was presented to me, right? Plus, I think I should get extra kudos for making it through the entire ordeal- walking the streets of the big city alone- in one piece.But that's just me.


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