Africa Style: Hats off to home-brewed ads and marketing
by Masingita Mazibuko There is something about the familiar that feeds our soul, makes us feel connected, safe and emotionally committed. At the risk of sounding ‘Afropolitan’, I do believe there is something about home-brewed that really moves the needle when it comes to advertising.
Oh yes, these quintessential South African marketing messages — whether reflecting a real South African challenge, capturing the tactical grounded soul of Africa or just simple pride in what is South African — get me every time.
There are a handful of such moments on our screens (of all sizes) at the moment; and I just have to pay homage to three of them.
Give that father a Bell’s
The first is the Bell’s ad telling the story of an illiterate father who learns to read so that he is able to consume the book that has been written by his son.
The father’s journey includes adult education classes, intimate messaging between his wife and himself, and moments of triumph shared with friends at each milestone. It ultimately leads to a father-son connection when he is finally able to read his son’s creation.
This ad manages to highlight a key societal challenge while staying true to the brand premise. It makes me cry every time I see it.
The second is an offering from a trio from Soweto (two brothers and a friend). They have managed to capture ‘kasi’ soul through their Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter links, “I See a Different You’.
This is photo-biography that captures the world around them on a daily basis and transports one to a 1960s’ Drum era, resulting in much coverage in various media, and firing pride in my roots whenever I visit the page.
Finally, there’s Super Diski, an omnibus characterising soccer in SA — ultimately, unashamedly, declaring Diski Mzanzi style. Here is our uniqueness, our soul, our joy; I can’t help but celebrate our passion whenever I experience this brand.
We marketers work relentlessly, striving to grow our brands.
Unfortunately, boredom sets in far more quickly for us than for our target consumers, and we consequently often change things unnecessarily. At times, this change/tweak/desire for a new expression may lead to recreating the brand, instead of ensuring a core that is intact and re-emphasising the most relevant expression.
At other times, we need to refresh the brand as a result of evolving consumer dynamics or varying strategic perspectives.
Let’s take a look at the controversial new logo for the City of Cape Town.
In my opinion, Cape Town’s decision to rebrand in 2014 is a sound one. One, the city has moved on and has a different set of goals and ambitions, and this should be reflected in its imagery. Two, it is 2014’s World Design Capital. That said, whether the rebranding is a success or not is in the detail.
The rebranding is, in my view, not an obsession with the African for its own sake, nor does it lack real definition. Rather, it is an attempt — and a successful one — to recreate the rich and unique perspective to which this South African city lays claim.
I believe it is critical that that which is created and adopted is a synthesis of something new and unique, thereby contributing to a fresh perspective. I contend that we embrace that which is around us as inspiration — it is how brands contribute and make a real difference.
Rigour and discipline
Focus requires greater rigour and discipline. It demands that marketers be clear about the business issue the brand is encountering, clarity on the experience the brand needs to create and, lastly, deliver the message in a way that shifts the dial. In essence, it is a case of ‘the basics that matter’.
Think of the great artists. To give their best, they need to be able to connect and be comfortable in their skin and what defines them. It is only then the paths of experimentation can begin that will ensure that their art evolves, transcends and becomes breath-taking.
For brands, that is a real understanding of what your brand root strength is.
Masingita Mazibuko, marketing director at Unilever, contributes the monthly “Africa Style” column to MarkLives.com. The views expressed within this column are entirely her own.
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